Classification for Municipal Licensing Data Discussed by House Committee

February 22, 2022

The bill, which would make some municipal licensing data private, was put on hold.

The House Judiciary Finance and Civil Law Committee on Feb. 17 heard HF 3064 (Rep. Sydney Jordan, DFL-Minneapolis), a bill that would classify certain city licensing data as private.

The bill would include local governments as licensing agencies under Minnesota Statutes, section 13.41, a law that classifies certain licensing data as private. This law currently applies mostly to professional licensing like licenses for police officers. It doesn’t apply to the licenses that cities issue, such as licenses for certain businesses and placement of public benches.

The bill was laid over for possible inclusion in an omnibus data practices bill. The Senate companion bill, SF 2979 (Sen. Kari Dziedzic, DFL-Minneapolis), has not been scheduled for a hearing yet.

Support for the bill

A business owner testified in support of the bill, discussing the concerns he had when applying for a local license. He said he would prefer that the local licensing data be classified as private, particularly since he had to provide personal financial data. He said things have changed since the passage of section 13.41 in 1981, and he was worried about things like identity theft and stalking.

If the same data were provided to the state for licensing, it would be private, but since it is provided to the city, it is presumptively public. Under Minnesota Statutes, section 13.41, when licensing is provided by the state — mostly for professional licenses — all data is private except for the licensee’s name and designated address.

Open government concerns

A representative from the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information (MNCOGI), an organization that advocates for open government, expressed concerns about classifying most municipal licensing data as private.

Minnesota Statutes, section 13.41 generally applies to professional licensure, the MNCOGI representative said, and it wouldn’t be appropriate to apply it to municipal licensing, which provides licenses for such things as pet care, placement of public benches, and antiques. For example, the law permits classifying data as confidential during active investigations of complaints against licensees, which might not fit for municipal licenses.

The League will monitor this bill and work with the bill authors and stakeholders on this issue.

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