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Enacting Clause

An enacting clause is the constitutionally required portion of a bill which formally expresses the intent that it become law. See Article IV, Section 22 of the Minnesota Constitution: "Be it enacted by the legislature of the state of Minnesota." This language appears on every bill that goes through the legislature and is signed by the governor to become law.

New laws (also called session laws) are first published in Laws of Minnesota. The enacting clause appears at the beginning of each law. Minnesota Statutes is a compilation of the general and permanent laws of the state arranged by subject. The enacting clause is not reprinted here. For more information on the difference between the Laws and Statutes, see Frequently Asked Questions About the Minnesota Legislature: Laws, Statutes and Rules from the Minnesota Legislature. The original bills signed into law by the governor and bearing his signature are filed with the Secretary of State.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals explained this process in Ledden v. State, 686 N.W.2d 873 (Minn. Ct. App. 2004):

Appellant next contends that the statutes under which he was convicted are unconstitutional because the printed copies of the Minnesota Statutes do not contain the enacting clauses. In support of this proposition, appellant refers to the Sjoberg court's holding that "a statute without an enacting clause is void." Sjoberg, 73 Minn. at 212, 75 N.W. at 1118. But appellant misinterprets the context in which the word "statute" is used. In Sjoberg, the constitutionality of chapter 250, Laws 1897 was being challenged. Because chapter 250, Laws 1897 was not codified at the time the court addressed the issue, the court used the word "statute" in reference to the session laws. [At the time the Sjoberg case was litigated, the most recent codification of the Minnesota laws was 1894. The Minnesota laws were not re-codified until 1905.] Thus, appellant's reliance on Sjoberg is misplaced.

Appellant's argument also confuses the laws of Minnesota with the codified statutes. Although the Minnesota Statutes are prima facie evidence of the laws of Minnesota, they are not the laws themselves. See Minn. Stat. §3C.13. The actual laws of Minnesota as passed by the legislature, signed by the governor, or enacted without signature or over veto, and filed with the secretary of state, are contained in the session laws, which do contain the required enacting clauses. See Minn. Stat. §3C.06 (2002). In contrast, the Minnesota Statutes are enacted laws that are codified, organized, and assembled by the revisor of statutes. See generally Minn. Stat. §3C.10 (2002). The laws are codified to provide the public with a usable collection of the laws of Minnesota. Minn. Stat. § 3C.08, which sets forth the required contents of the Minnesota Statutes, does not require that the enacting clauses be republished in the Minnesota Statutes. To require that the enacting clause be republished in the Minnesota Statutes every time a law is passed or amended would lead to an absurd result because so many laws have been amended time and time again. See Minn. Stat. §645.17(1) (2002). Accordingly, we conclude that the omission of the enacting clauses from the Minnesota Statutes does not render the statutes unconstitutional, and there is no constitutional deficiency in appellant's convictions.

Federal legislation works the same way. The Statutes at Large (authorized in 1 U.S.C. §112) are the session laws and the United States Code (authorized in 1 U.S.C. §204) is the equivalent of Minnesota Statutes. For more information see How Our Laws Are Made, from the Library of Congress.

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