Focus on New Laws: Expanded City Authority for Electronic Signatures During COVID-19

July 6, 2020

A temporary change to Minnesota law has expanded the authority for cities to use electronic signatures during the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting peacetime emergency.

Chapter 92, signed by Gov. Walz on May 16, expands the authority for cities to use electronic signatures despite any other law, rule, or ordinance that says otherwise.

Documents included

The new law allows a home rule charter or statutory city, township, or county to accept electronic signatures, documents, and filings during the COVID-19 health pandemic for:

This law was effective on May 17, 2020, and expires either 60 days after the end of the declared peacetime public health emergency or Jan. 6, 2021, whichever is earlier.

Impetus for new electronic signature flexibility

Under Minnesota Statutes, section 325L.18, cities are currently allowed to accept electronic records and electronic signatures but there are some specific laws that require actual signatures, sometimes called “wet” signatures.

However, with the issues presented by COVID-19, some of these “wet” signature requirements were hard to meet. This created difficulties for public bodies to get signatures.

This new law makes clear that even if an actual signature is required in law, electronic signatures would satisfy that requirement.