The new law expands and modernizes requirements regarding qualified newspapers used to publish city meeting notices and other city information.
The 2022 Legislature passed a new law (Chapter 61) expanding and modernizing certain requirements regarding qualified newspapers used to publish meeting and election notices, city financial reports, and actions like ordinances or advertisements for bids.
The law was signed by Gov. Tim Walz with an effective date of Aug. 1.
The new law adds a definition of “publish” to Minnesota Statutes, section 331A.01 to include both the print edition and e-edition of a qualified newspaper. “E-edition” is defined as “a digital facsimile of a newspaper’s print edition that is substantially the same in both format and content as the print edition.”
The law also requires a newspaper to post public notices on the Minnesota Newspaper Association’s statewide public notice website, at no additional cost to the advertiser if the newspaper maintains its own website. The newspaper’s website must include a link to its online public notices section, the contents of which must be accessible at no cost to the public.
Qualified newspaper criteria
The law also changes some criteria to be a qualified newspaper by:
- Reducing minimum printed space from 1,000 square inches to 800 square inches.
- Requiring newspapers to be published (disseminated in the print edition or e-edition) and distributed.
- Removing the requirement that a newspaper must be devoted to news of local interest only to the community which it purports to serve.
- Removing minimum circulation requirements. Instead, the law requires a “general circulation in the area to which a public notice is directed, or where there is a reasonable likelihood that the person to whom it is directed will become aware of the notice.” The law also adds a definition of “general circulation” which means “a newspaper distributes more than a nominal percentage of its total print circulation in a particular geographic area.”
Newspapers are prohibited from charging political subdivisions in cases where an error in the publication of a public notice is the fault of the newspaper.
Posting disbursement amounts
Under previous law, in a city with a population of less than 2,500 with no qualified newspaper of general circulation, the clerk must post copies in three of the most public places in the city.
However, it is not required to publish individual disbursements of less than $300, if disbursements aggregating $1,000 or more are set forth in a schedule published with the financial statement. The new law increases the amount for individual disbursements to be published from $300 to $500.