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Minnesota Data Practices Act

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The Minnesota Data Practices Act is a series of laws designed to guarantee that the public has access to public records of government bodies at all levels in Minnesota.

The Minnesota Open Meeting Law legislates the methods by which public meetings are conducted.

To learn more about how to make a public records request in this state, please see Minnesota FOIA procedures.

Relevant legal cases

See also: Court cases with an impact on state FOIA and Minnesota sunshine lawsuits

Here is a list of lawsuits in Minnesota (cases are listed alphabetically; to order them by year please click the icon to the right of the year heading).

We do not currently have any pages on litigation in Minnesota.

Proposed changes


See also: Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2011

We do not have any legislation for Minnesota in 2011.


See also: Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2010

We do not have any legislation for Minnesota in 2010.


See also: Proposed reforms in state sunshine laws, 2009

Senate Bill 94 (and companion House Bill 100) would make "certain records pertaining to the I-35W bridge collapse compensation program" exempt from public disclosure.[1][2] Sen. Limmer (R-Maple Grove) questioned the proposed bill, saying that "the public has a right to know ... how the compensation board makes its decisions. That record should be as open to the public as possible."[3]

Minnesota's transparency report card

A 2008 study, BGA - Alper Integrity Index, conducted by the Better Government Association and sponsored by Alper Services, ranked Minnesota #15 in the nation with an overall percentage of 57.30%. [4]

A 2007 study, Graded state responsiveness to FOI requests, conducted by BGA and the NFOIC, gave Minnesota 53 points out of a possible 100, a letter grade of "F" and a ranking of 21 out of the 50 states.[5]

A 2002 study, Freedom of Information in the USA, conducted by IRE and BGA, ranked Minnesota's law as the 40th worst in the country, giving it a letter grade of "D".[6]

Features of the law

Sunshine variations Compare States: Sunshine variations
Click on the heading to compare your state's law to other state's transparency laws.

Declared legal intention

See also: Declared legal intentions across the U.S.

The Minnesota Data Practices Act "establishes a presumption that government data are public and are accessible by the public for both inspection and copying unless there is federal law, a state statute, or a temporary classification of data that provides that certain data are not public."[7]

Minnesota law requires the dissemination of information with regard to procedures for DPA requests within each department.[8]

What records are covered?

See also: Defining public records

Minnesota defines public records as "all data collected, created, received, maintained or disseminated by any government entity regardless of its physical form, storage media or conditions of use."[9]


Exceptions include but are not limited to:

  • Information classified as both private and confidential[10]
  • Personal information of students[11]
  • Examination data[12]
  • Social Security numbers[13]
  • Security information[14]
  • Sealed ballots[15]
  • Sealed bids[16]
  • Parking space leasing[17]
  • Labor relations[18]
  • Health data except to the individuals practicing physician for the purpose of medical analysis[19]
  • Civil litigation information and anything pertaining to attorney client privileges[20]
  • Library records of borrowers[21]
  • Licensing data, other than names and addresses[22]
  • All personal data of employees except, name, job title, dates of employment, complaints, disciplinary actions, resolution of disputes, work location and telephone number, payroll time sheets and all information concerning undercover agents[23]
  • Appraisal data for potential government sales or purchases[24]
  • Welfare data on individuals, unless it is statistical data and does not release information on particular individuals[25]
  • Information about individuals or corporations applying for government aid is exempt, except names and addresses[26]
  • Foster care information[27]
  • Employment and training data of individuals enrolled in state funded employment programs[28]
  • Financial information submitted by companies for awards[29]
  • Retirement data, excluding name, gross pension, and type of benefit awarded[30]
  • Farm data which includes "non-farm income; credit history; insurance coverage; machinery and equipment list; financial information; and credit information requests"[31]
  • Consumer complaint data at the Attorney General's office[32]
  • Employee relations data[33]
  • Financial information and statistics provided by energy companies[34]
  • Transportation department data, including motor carrier accidents and operations, construction estimates and complaints among other thing[35]
  • Museum and university donor and gift data[36]
  • Domestic abuse data[37]

Deliberative process

See also: Deliberative process exemption

What agencies are covered?

See also: Defining public body

The law indicates early on that all government agencies are subject to the law.[38] However, the judiciary is exempt and is instead subject to the rules of the Minnesota Supreme Court.


See also: Legislatures and transparency

The legislature is exempt from the Minnesota Data Practices Act, but due to past controversies the phone records of specific legislators are available for public inspection and copying.[39]

Privatized governmental agencies

See also: Private agency, public dollars and Private agency, public dollars-Minnesota

In Minnesota, private agencies that fall under the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 or contract with the government to provide social services are considered public entities and are subject to the Minnesota Data Practices Act.

Public universities

See also: Universities and open records

The definition of public body presumably includes public universities within the state. However, examination data and university donor and gift data are explicitly exempt under the law.[40][41]

Who may request records?

See also: List of who can make public record requests by state

Anyone may request public records in Minnesota. They are also entitled to have the data explained to them if they don't understand it. A "person shall be permitted to inspect and copy public government data."[42]

Must a purpose be stated?

See also: States requiring a statement of purpose

Nothing in the law requires a statement of purpose.

How can records be used?

See also: Record use restrictions

The only restriction on the use of records is that if a commercial use is intended the government agency may charge an additional fee.[43]

Time allowed for response

See also: Request response times by state

There is no response time specified in the Minnesota law.

Fees for records

Copy costs

See also: How much do public records cost?

While the law indicates that there shall be no fees for inspection of records, it allows for the charging of fees when someone requests a copy of the records. These fees can include the cost of duplication. However, if the records are intended for commercial purposes an additional fee may be charged.[44]

Search fees

See also: Sunshine laws and search fees

Public entities are entitled to charge fees for the labor costs involved in the search. However, they cannot charge for the separation of public and private data.[45]

Role of the Attorney General

See also: Role of the Attorney General

There is currently no provision within the state open records law that empowers the State Department of Law to enforce the right of the public to access governmental records.

Open meetings

See also: Minnesota Open Meeting Law'

"All meetings, including executive sessions, must be open to the public."[46]

See also

External links


  1. Text of SF94
  2. Text of HF100
  3. Friday opinuendo: On scrutiny, apostrophes, Blagoheads and more,, February 6, 2009
  4. 2008 BGA-Alper Integrity Index
  5. States Failing FOI Responsiveness, National Freedom of Information Coalition, October 2007
  6. Freedom of Information in the USA, 2002
  7. Minnesota Statutes 13.01
  8. Minnesota Statute 13.03.3
  9. Minnesota Statute 13.02.7
  10. Minnesota Statute 13.03.4.B
  11. Minnesota Statute 13.32
  12. Minnesota Statute 13.34
  13. Minnesota Statute 13.35
  14. Minnesota Statute 13.36.2
  15. Minnesota Statute 13.36.2
  16. Minnesota Statute 13.36.2
  17. Minnesota Statute 13.36.2
  18. Minnesota Statute 13.36.2
  19. Minnesota Statute 13.38
  20. Minnesota Statute 13.39 and 13.393
  21. Minnesota Statute 13.40
  22. Minnesota Statute 13.41.2
  23. Minnesota Statute 13.43.2
  24. Minnesota Statute 13.44.3
  25. Minnesota Statute 13.46.2
  26. Minnesota Statute 13.462.2
  27. Minnesota Statute 13.467.1
  28. Minnesota Statute 13.47
  29. Minnesota Statute 13.48
  30. Minnesota Statute 13.63
  31. Minnesota Statute 13.643
  32. Minnesota Statute 13.65
  33. Minnesota Statute 13.67
  34. Minnesota Statute 13.68
  35. Minnesota Statute 13.72
  36. Minnesota Statute 13.792
  37. Minnesota Statute 13.80
  38. Minnesota Statute 13.01.1
  39. MN Rev.Stat. 10.46 via RCFP Guide to Minnesota
  40. Minnesota Statute 13.34
  41. Minnesota Statute 13.792
  42. Minnesota Statutes, 13.03(a)
  43. Minnesota Statute 13.03
  44. Minnesota Statute 13.03.3.B, D
  45. Minnesota Statute 13.03.3.B, D
  46. Minnesota Statutes, 13D.01