Attorney General Opinions - by Date

November 13, 2023 - Op. Atty. Gen. 622a6
EDUCATION-SCHOOL PROPERTY-LEASES: Where education district will use ninety percent of property for educational programs and leases for remaining ten percent are for commercial uses that do not interfere with educational programs, existing leases do not disqualify the purchase of the property by the district. Under these facts, purchasing the property subject to existing leases is a purchase for a valid public purpose if the education district board determines lease terms are in the best interests of the district. Minn. Stat. § 216B.51.

October 17, 2023 - Op. Atty. Gen. 358a3
INCOMPATIBLE OFFICES; COUNTY COMMISSIONER AND CITY ADMINISTRATOR; City administrator position description did not reflect independent and final decision-making authority and therefore did not meet criteria for a public office subject to inherent incompatibility with another public office; local government units are best positioned to assess actual and potential conflicts under their personnel rules and policies.

August 22, 2023 - Op. Atty. Gen. 169f
SCHOOL PUPILS: DISCIPLINE: Laws of Minnesota 2023 ch. 55, art. 2, § 36 and art. 12, § 4 do not limit the types of reasonable force that may be used by school staff and agents to prevent bodily harm or death. Minn. Stat. §§ 121A.58; 121A.582.
Supplemented Opinion issued September 20, 2023

February 17, 2023 - Op. Atty. Gen. 622i-11
SCHOOL DISTRICTS: SCHOOL PROPERTY: PURCHASE OF REAL PROPERTY; SALE OF REAL PROPERTY: Intermediate school district’s purchase of property from a member district where the member district retains title as security for the purchase price is governed by Minn. Stat. § 465.71 and the limitations therein and is not authorized by Minn. Stat. § 465.035.

November 17, 2022 - Op. Atty. Gen. 169i (Cr. Ref. 169x)
SCHOOL PUPILS: EXCLUSION: FEES: Minnesota law prohibits schools or districts participating in the federal school lunch program from providing an alternate meal not on the scheduled menu to students with unpaid meal debt.

June 30, 2021 - Op. Atty. Gen. 430
HOUSING AND REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY: LATE FEES: Statutory cap applies to each overdue rent payment once and may not be applied to a cumulative total of overdue rent that includes rent for which a late fee has previously been assessed. Recalculation of late fee on a partial payment is not required. Minn. Stat. § 504B.177

October 27, 2020 – Op. Atty. Gen 355a (Cr. Ref. 159a3, 442a20)
Public Funds-General-City: Regardless of new technology or public health crises, a city may not use public funds to advocate for one side of a ballot question. Minn. Const. Art. 10 § 1, Minn. Stat. §§ 10.60, 412.211

October 16, 2020 – Op. Atty. Gen 182 (Cr. Ref. 183)
ELECTIONS: CHALLENGERS: Challengers do not have any role or authority within the ballot-board process.

May 7, 2020 – Op. Atty. Gen 28A-6
SECRETARY OF STATE: ELECTIONS-BALLOTS-GENERAL: MARKING-RULES: Section 208 of the VRA preempts the prohibition on a candidate assisting a voter and the prohibition on a person assisting more than three voters in an election, as set forth in Minn. Stat. § 204C.15, subd 1. Any enforcement of these prohibitions would violate the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution.

January 2, 2020 – Op. Atty. Gen 185a-5
SECRETARY OF STATE: ELECTIONS: POLLING PLACES: County auditors may designate voting site(s) for early voting in three ways: (1) absentee balloting alone during entire 46-day period before election; (2) both ballot counter-ballot box voting and absentee balloting during 7-day period before election; or (3) absentee balloting during 46-day period, with additional voter option of ballot counter-ballot box voting during final 7 days of period. Minn. Stat. § 203B.081, subds. 1, 3.

May 16, 2019 – Op. Atty. Gen 624c-4
PUBLIC UTILITIES: ELECTRICITY – LIGHT & POWER: DELINQUENT BILLS: Municipal utilities must use reasonable methods to compel payment for services and utility service may not be disconnected other than for good cause. Op. Atty. Gen. 624c-4 (Nov. 2, 1938) superseded.

May 14, 2019 — Op. Atty. Gen 169j
SCHOOL PUPILS: GRADUATION: FEES: Public schools are prohibited from denying
students – who are eligible to receive their diploma – the opportunity to participate in graduation ceremonies due to unpaid meal debts.

December 21, 2017 — Op. Atty. Gen 280k
LEGISLATURE: LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR: INCOMPATIBLE OFFICES: Last elected president of state senate becomes lieutenant governor as a result of vacancy in that position; strong argument can be made president of senate cannot simultaneously serve as state senator and lieutenant governor in light of lieutenant governor’s executive branch functions. Minn. Const. art. IV §§ 5, 15, art. V §§ 3, 5 (2017); Minn. Stat. §§ 3.05, 4.04, subd. 2, 9.011, 15B.03 (2016).

October 17, 2014 — Op. Atty. Gen 16-b
AUCTIONEERS: LICENSES: COUNTIES: Time-limited online auction sales are not subject to auctioneer-licensing requirements. Minn. Stat. § § 330.01-330.13 (2012).

April 22, 2014 — Op. Atty. Gen 280l-1 (Cr. Ref. 86a-16)
LEGISLATIVE: MEMBERS: Privilege from arrest during session does not apply to criminal conduct. Minn. Const. art. IV, § 10.

April 18, 2013 — Op. Atty. Gen 425c-11
TAX SALES: FORFEITED LAND: PURCHASE BY MUNICIPALITY: Conveyance of tax-forfeited land by the State of Minnesota to a Township for public park purposes does not supersede a prior Declaration on the property restricting the use of the property to private, residential purposes and therefore, use of the property as a public park is prohibited. Minn. Stat. § 282.01, subd. 6 (2012).

June 15, 2007 — Op. Atty. Gen 185b (Cr. Ref. 159a-3)
SCHOOL ELECTIONS: PETITIONS: Petition Rules promulgated by the Secretary of State generally apply to petition for school district referendum. School district clerks should perform the functions of “filing officer under those rules:” Minn Stat. §§ 204B.071, 205A.05, subd. 1, 205A.13 (2006); Minn. R. ch. 8205

October 6, 2006 — Op. Atty. Gen 852 (Cr. Ref. 64, 184a)
GOVERNMENT DATA: CANDIDATES FOR PUBLIC OFFICE: Criminal history data collected by city on council candidates is not private “applicant” data under Minn. Stat. § 13.43 (2004). Authority of city to collect such data questioned, Minn. Stat. §§ 13.03, 13.43, 13.601.

July 14, 2006 — Op. Atty. Gen 852
GOVERNMENT DATA: Where members of governing body are considered employees of governmental unit, personal information submitted by applicants for appointment to fill vacancies on the body is private personnel data except for items designated as public by Minn. Stat. § 13.43, subd. 3 and 13.601, subd. 3.

April 13, 2004 — Op. Atty. Gen. 852 (Cr. Ref. 817, 851)
GOVERNMENT DATA: PROPERTY APPRAISALS: Data Practices classification of property appraisals done for purposes of acquisition discussed. Minn. Stat. §§ 13.44, 117.036 (Supp. 2003).

August 12, 2003 — Op. Atty. Gen. 125a-66
COUNTIES: PLANNING AND ZONING: SUBDIVISION REGULATIONS: FEES: County may not prevent recording of all land conveyance documents that do not comply with county land use controls and fee requirements. Minn. Stat. §§272.12, 272.121, 394.37.

May 13, 2002 — Op. Atty. Gen. 63b-14 (Cr. Ref. 61c)
CITIES: COUNCIL: ORDINANCES: Computation of two-thirds majority when mayor may only vote in case of a tie. Minn. Stat. §§462.355, subd. 3 (2000), 462.357, subd. 2 (2001 Supp.)

May 8, 2002 — Op. Atty. Gen. 1001k
HOSPITAL DISTRICTS: CONTRACTS: Hospital Districts created under Minn. Stat. §§447.31, et. seq., are subject to the bidding requirements of Minn. Stat. § 471.345 (2000). Op. Atty. Gen. 1001k, April 18, 1962 superseded.

March 29, 2002 — Op. Atty. Gen. 174 (Cr. Ref. 159b-12, 161b-14)
TEACHERS: COMPENSATION: SCHOOL:Districts not authorized to pay for teachers’ insurance and retirement contribution while on extended leave.Minn. Stat. §§122A.46, 354.094 (2000).

January 25, 2002 — Op. Atty. Gen. 59a-32 (Cr. Ref. 441h; 477b-34)
MUNICIPALITIES: ZONING: AMENDMENT:With certain exceptions, municipal zoning ordinances may be adopted or amended by majority vote of governing body notwithstanding charter provision, or ordinance requiring greater majority. Minn. Stat. §§462.351, 462.357.

October 18, 2001 — Op. Atty. Gen. 125a (Cr. Ref. 59a-9)
COUNTY: BUILDING CODE: ADOPTION: County may adopt and enforce State Building Code by ordinance notwithstanding previous referendum. Op. Atty. Gen. 125a. April20, 1994, superseded. Minn. Stat. §16B.72 (2000).

April 30, 2001 — Op. Atty. Gen. 125a-28 (Cr. Ref. 59a-25; 161b-7)
COUNTIES: INSURANCE: RETIRED EMPLOYEES: Health insurance coverage for retired employees may be modified in connection with a new collective bargaining agreement. Minn. Stat. §§179A.03 subd.19, 179A.20, 471.61, 471.6161.

October 5, 2000 — Op. Atty. Gen. 484e-1 (Cr. Ref. 185b-2)
CITIES: CONSOLIDATION: ELECTIONS: Voter approval of consolidation requires affirmative vote of majority of persons voting on the question. Minn. Stat. §414.01, subd.6 (1998).

August 4, 2000 — Op. Atty. Gen. 852 (Cr. Ref. 523a-17, 523a-27)
DATA PRACTICES ACT: LABOR AND INDUSTRY: ORDERS: Orders of Commissioner of Labor and Industry and objections thereto are public data. Minn. Stat. §§13.39, 176.181.

June 30, 2000 — Op. Atty. Gen. 229a(Cr. Ref. 1005, 1007, 1016)
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION: RESPONSIBILITIES: CONSTRUCTION: Responsibilities of Commissioner of Transportation and Metropolitan Council in connection with construction of light rail transit project discussed: Minn. Stat. §§471.59, 473.399 473.3997.

May 4, 2000 — Op. Atty. Gen. 62b (Cr. Ref. 477b)
CITIES: ORDINANCES: PREEMPTION: A city may completely prohibit smoking in restaurants under its general police powers. The Minnesota Clean Indoor Air Act expressly preserves the authority of cities to ban smoking where the Act, and Health Department rules promulgated thereunder, would otherwise allow designation of smoking areas by the proprietor.

November 23, 1999 — Op. Atty. Gen. 471m
STATUTORY CITY COUNCIL: VACANCY IN OFFICE: Person elected to fill remainder of unexpired mayoral term may assume office upon receipt of certificate of election. Minn. Stat. §412.02, subd.2, 2a.

August 23, 1999 — Op. Atty. Gen. 1035 (Cr. Ref. 170c)
MINNESOTA STATE HIGH SCHOOL LEAGUE: Questions concerning the nature, governance and powers of the League discussed. Minn. Stat. §§10A.071, 15.0575, 118A.04, 118A.05, 128C.01, 128C.10, 128C.15, 128C.22, 471.345, 471.705, 471.895 (1998).

June 28, 1999 — Op. Atty. Gen. 624a-3
PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION: HOME RULE CHARTER CITIES: City public utilities commission is authorized to set reasonable rates, including rates in excess of the precise amounts required to operate utilities, and the City Council may transfer moneys from the public utilities fund to the city general fund for public purpose expenditures, subject to applicable charter provisions.

June 9, 1999 — Op. Atty. Gen. 390a-14
SHERIFFS: MOTOR VEHICLES: County Board has authority to specify color of Sheriff’s squad cars. Minn. Stat. §§169.98 subd.1 (a); 375.18 subd.2; 387.29 subd.2.

May 11, 1999 — Op. Atty. Gen. 59a-32 (Cr. Ref. 125a-66, 477b-34, 484a-1, 484e-1)
CITIES: ZONING: City ordinance zoning newly annexed land in Mississippi headwaters area is not subject to requirement for formal review and certification by Mississippi Headwaters Board, but must, nonetheless comply with the Boards’ comprehensive land use plan. Minn. Stat. §103f.371 - 103f.375 (1998).

December 15, 1998 — Op. Atty. Gen. 161b-7 (Cr. Ref. 59a-25, 125a-28, 469a-7)
SCHOOL DISTRICTS: INSURANCE: RETIRED EMPLOYEES: School district is not required to make available same level of insurance coverage to retired employees 65 years of age and older as that provided to active employees. Minn. Stat. §471.61, subd.2b.

November 5, 1998 — Op. Atty. Gen. 379c-8c
ROADS: TOWN LINE: MAINTENANCE: County boards may determine division of maintenance responsibility for town line road established prior to enactment of authorizing statute. Op. Atty. Gen. 379c-8c, September18, 1951 superseded. Minn. Stat. §164.12 (1996).

November 2, 1998 — Op. Atty. Gen. 624a-3
PUBLIC UTILITIES: COMMISSION STATUTORY CITIES: City council is not authorized to delegate operation and management of telephone and cable television services to utility commission. Op. Atty. Gen. 624a-3 , May 7, 1968, superseded. Minn. Stat. § 412.351.

March 11, 1998 — Op. Atty. Gen. 159a-3
EDUCATION: INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT: BOND ELECTION: REVIEW AND COMMENT: School board which receives petition by voters to hold special election to authorize issuance of bonds for school facility must submit project for review and comment. A community recreational facility as described by school district is subject to review and comment procedures. Unless the review and comment is negative, school board must call the special election petitioned by voters. Minn. Stat. §§ 121.148 (1996), 121.15 (Supp. 1997), 205A.05 (Supp. 1997). Affirmative vote in bond election does not compel board to issue bonds. Op. Atty. Gen. 159a-3, May 25, 1970.

December 18, 1997 — Op. Atty. Gen. 107b-19
COUNTY FUNDS: USES: TAX FORFEITED LAND SALE: County may purchase motor vehicles with tax forfeited land sales funds. Vehicles must be used exclusively for maintenance and improvement of tax forfeited lands.

October 14, 1997 — Op. Atty. Gen. 268l
JUVENILES, CRIMES, PHOTOS: Minn. Stat § 260.161, subd. 3(a) only prohibits peace officers from taking photos of children in custody and does not prohibit news media.

October 14, 1997 — Op. Atty. Gen. 268l
SHERIFFS, POLICE, JURISDICTION: County sheriffs have jurisdiction to investigate crimes anywhere in their county, even in cities with established police forces.

August 27, 1997 — Op. Atty. Gen. 82t
FAIR CAMPAIGN PRACTICES ACT: DISCLAIMER: VIOLATIONS: The prohibition against anonymous campaign material in Minn. Stat. §§ 211B.04(a) and (b) (1996) is clearly unconstitutional under controlling U.S. Supreme Court precedent.

August 25, 1997 — Op. Atty. Gen. 90e
CONTRACTS: OFFICERS INTEREST: CITY: Officer and employee of nonprofit corporation that provides public access cable television services in connection with city franchise and contract is not disqualified from serving as mayor or council member, but must abstain from participating in city actions involving franchise. Op. Atty. Gen. 90a-1, July 12, 1973 superseded. Minn. Stat. §§ 238.15 and 471.87 (1996).

August 4, 1997 — Op. Atty. Gen. 161b-12
SCHOOL BOARD POWERS: SUPERINDENT: SALARY AND BENEFITS: School district powers regarding salary and benefits for superintendent discussed. Authority of Commissioner of Children, Families and Learning discussed. Minn. Stat. §§ 43A.17, 123.33-123.35, 356.24, 356.25, 471.38, 471.665.

July 29, 1997 — Op. Atty. Gen. 358e-3
INCOMPATIBLE OFFICE: CITY ATTORNEY: Office of Assistant County Attorney is not incompatible per se with office of city attorney. Minn. Stat. § 481.17 (1996)

July 10, 1997 — Op. Atty. Gen. 602j
DRAINAGE: REPAIRS: LIMITATION UPON COST: The limitation contained in Minn. Stat. § 103E.715, subd. 4(a) (1996) on cost of repairs made pursuant to a repair petition does not apply to routine maintenance and repairs made by a drainage authority pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 103E.705 (1996).

November 5, 1996 — Op. Atty. Gen. 390a-21
SHERIFFS: SERVICE OF PROCESS: Sheriff is not authorized to serve documents pertaining to proceedings in purported “courts” not established by law. Minn. Const. art. VI § 387.03 (1994).

August 28, 1996 — Op. Atty. Gen. 63a-5
OPEN MEETING LAW: CITY COUNCIL: COMMITTEES: Mere attendance by additional council member(s) at meeting of a council committee, held in compliance with Open Meeting Law, would not constitute special council meeting requiring separate notice, but such member(s) should not participate in committee discussions or deliberations, absent separate notice.

July 25, 1996 — Op. Atty. Gen. 442a-1
TOWN FUNDS: OFFICERS: Town is not required or authorized to reimburse officer for costs of criminal defense. Minn. Stat. §§ 465.76, 466.07, 471.44 (1994).

July 24, 1996 — Op. Atty. Gen. 59a-30
CITY OFFICERS: REMOVAL: City charter may not provide for removal of council member by council. Grounds for removal of elected local official must amount to malfeasance or nonfeasance in office. Minn. Const. art. VIII, § 5; art. XII, §§ 3, 4. Minn. Stat. §§ 351.02, 351.14, 410.07, 410.20.

February 23, 1996 — Op. Atty. Gen. 238i
MANUFACTURED HOME PARKS: FIRE CODE: Fire code road width requirements may be applied to existing park where hazard to life or property exists.

December 4, 1995 — Op. Atty. Gen. 852
DATA PRACTICES: COPYRIGHT: STATE AGENCY DATA: State agency data constituting original works of authorship are protected by federal copyright law. Certain restrictions may be placed upon use of public data. Title 17 U.S.C., Minn. Stat. §§ 13.03, 13.37, 15.95, 16B.483, 16B.51, 16B.53

October 27, 1995 — Op. Atty. Gen. 64f (Cr. Ref.63b-5)
ELECTIONS: CITIES: Uniform election day statute applies to charter cities transitional provisions discussed. Minn. Stat. §§ 205.02, 205.07, 410.015, 410.21

August 18, 1995 — Op. Atty. Gen. 59a-32 (Cr. Ref. 59a-9, 125a-66)
CITIES: ZONING: City may extend subdivision regulations and building code enforcement but not zoning controls, two miles beyond city limits where county zoning regulations are in effect. Minn. Stat. §§ 16B.62, 16B.72, 462.357, 462.358 (1994).

April 10, 1995 — Op. Atty. Gen. 106e
COUNTY SEAT: REMOVAL: Petition not invalid due to claims that signatures not personally observed by affiants: Effect of conditional offer of site and funds for construction.

January 24, 1995 — Op. Atty. Gen. 106e
COUNTY SEAT: REMOVAL: Otherwise qualified voters need not have actually voted at previous election or be registered to sign petition for changing county seat. Minn. Stat. §§ 372.01, 372.03 (1994).

December 28, 1994 — Op. Atty. Gen. 104a-9
COUNTIES: OFFICERS: COMPENSATION: County may not provide car allowance subsidizing personal use of automobile in addition to maximum authorized salary; authorized vacation leave is not considered severance pay. Minn. Stat. §§ 43A.17, subd. 9, 465.722; 471.665.

October 31, 1994 — Op. Atty. Gen. 390a-6
SHERIFF: COMPENSATION: FEES: County sheriff may not perform privately contracted policing services within the county for personal compensation. Sheriff's family members may be involved in private service of process business. Minn. Stat. §§ 387.03, 387.20, 436.05.

August 18, 1994 — Op. Atty. Gen. 632e-1
MOTOR VEHICLE: TAX: BASIS FOR COMPUTING: Motor Vehicle registration tax must be based upon base price as listed on window sticker. Minn. Stat. § 168.013.

August 1, 1994 — Op. Atty. Gen. 627e
ELECTIONS: CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS: Candidates for local office are not precluded by Minn. Stat. § 211A.13 (Supp. 1993) from transferring funds to other candidates for local office.

June 9, 1994 — Op. Atty. Gen. 90
CONTRACTS: OFFICERS' INTEREST IN: HOUSING AND REDEVELOPMENT AUTHORITIES: Housing and Redevelopment Authority Commissioner is not prohibited from performing work on projects approved by authority if notice and nonparticipation requirements of Minn. Stat. § 469.009 (1992) are met. Minn. Stat. §§ 469.009, 471.87 (1992)

April 28, 1994 — Op. Atty. Gen. 124a
COUNTY COMMISSIONERS: COMPENSATION PER DIEM ALLOWANCE: Authority to provide per diem allowance does not permit a per meeting payment. Per diem payment permitted for meetings of county board. Members may not be paid multiple per diem for meetings held on the same day, absent independent statutory authority Minn. Stat. §§ 375.055, 375.065.

April 20, 1994 — Op. Atty. Gen. 125a
COUNTY: BUILDING CODE: ADOPTION: County, wherein building code was rejected by referendum, may not adopt code by ordinance. Matter of code application may be resubmitted to referendum. Minn. Stat. § 16B.72 (1992).

March 11, 1994 — Op. Atty. Gen. 1007
JOINT POWERS ACT: CHARTER SCHOOLS: Charter schools formed as contemplated by Minn. Stat. § 120.064 (1992 and Supp. 1993) are not “governmental units” as the term is defined in the Joint Powers Act, Minn. Stat. § 471.59, subd. 1 (1992); consequently, such charter schools may not be a party to a joint powers agreement.

March 9, 1994 — Op. Atty. Gen. 213c
GOVERNOR: LEGISLATION: CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS: Amendments proposed by legislative action are not subject to gubernatorial approval or veto. Minn. Const. art. IV, §§ 23, 24; art. IX, §1.

September 14, 1993 — Op. Atty. Gen. 469b
CITIES: OFFICERS: SALARIES: Compensation of employee for unused vacation upon termination is not considered salary for purposes of Minn. Stat. § 43A.17.

July 27, 1993 — Op. Atty. Gen. 707a
MUNICIPAL CONTRACTS: ADVERTISING FOR CONSTRUCTION BIDS: City may include project labor agreement specifications if motivated by economic reasons as purchaser, and not in regulatory capacity.

May 4, 1993 — Op. Atty. Gen. 414a-5
TAXATION: INDIAN LANDS: The exemption from ad valorem taxation for Indian lands in Minn. Stat. § 272.01, subd. 1 applies only to lands held in trust by the United States for the benefit of an Indian Tribe, its members, or an individual Indian, and lands owned by an Indian Tribe or an individual Indian subject to federal statutory restraints on alienation. The exemption does not apply to lands owned in fee simple title by Indian Tribes or individual Indians.

April 15, 1993 — Op. Atty. Gen. 494a-1
CRIMINAL LAW: UNIFORM TRAFFIC TICKET: Issuance for violation not committed or attempted in presence of officer. Superseding Op. Atty. Gen. 494a-1, March 14, 1967. Minn. Stat. §§ 169.91, 169.92, 169.99, 629.34.

March 8, 1993 — Op. Atty. Gen. 387b-10
STORM SEWERS: CHARGES: City may impose reasonable charges for storm sewer services based upon classification of premises in reference to storm water produced. Minn. Stat. § 444.075 (1992).

March 1, 1993 — Op. Atty. Gen. 484a-1
CITIES: ANNEXATION: Time conditions in orderly annexation agreements do not bind determinations of Municipal Board or preclude annexation by ordinance pursuant to Minn. Stat. § 414.033, subd. 2a (1992). Minn. Stat. §§ 414.0325, 414.033.

January 4, 1993 — Op. Atty. Gen. 330c-3
BOARDS: HENNEPIN COUNTY: TERMS OF MEMBERS: Terms of members appointed by county board expire on January. They may continue in de facto capacity until successors are selected. Minn. Stat. §§ 383B.68, 383B.69 (1990).