Important Changes Under MN Data Practices Act for Public/Private Contracts for Government Functions

On May 29, 2014, the Minnesota governor signed into law Senate File 1770, which makes a company’s or private individual’s records subject to Minnesota public records law – the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act – when the company or individual contracts with a government entity to perform “one of its functions.” This law was passed as a reaction to Helmberger v. Johnson Controls, 839 N.W.2d 527 (Minn. 2013), a 2013 decision of the Minnesota Supreme Court interpreting Minnesota Statutes, section 13.05, subdivision 11. In Helmberger, the Minnesota Supreme Court held that a company’s records are not subject to the Data Practices Act unless the government entity provides notice in the contract that the Data Practices Act applies to the company. The Minnesota Legislature amended section 13.05, making clear that a company’s or individual’s obligation to comply with the Data Practices Act exists regardless of whether there is a contractual notice. When a company or individual enters a contract to perform “one of [a government entity’s] functions,” the data collected or created for that purpose is subject to the Data Practices Act. Public entities must include a contractual notice that the requirements of Minnesota Statutes, section 13.05, subdivision 11, apply to companies or individuals who perform a government function.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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