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22/08/16 The Meaning of ‘Law,’ ‘Statutes,’ ‘Rules,’ and ‘Acts’

e-legal lesson

1. What is a law?
A law is an idea, placed in bill form that has passed both the House of Representatives and the Senate and has not been vetoed by the Governor.

2. What are statutes?
Statutes are laws that apply to all citizens and cover a variety of topics, including the following: the Legislature, the executive branch, state departments, the judiciary and courts, tax policy, public safety and police authority, towns, cities, counties, commerce and trade, private property and private rights, civil injuries and remedies, and crimes against people and property and the penalties associated with them.

3. What is a rule?
There are three definitions of a rule, depending on which branch of government you are referring to.

Procedural rules. In the Legislature, rules refer to the regulating principles or methods of procedure. The Minnesota Constitution, Minnesota Statutes, Mason’s Manual of Legislative Procedure, and custom and usage are all guidelines which determine legislative procedure. Each body adopts the rules under which it operates and the joint rules which govern joint conventions.

Administrative rules. In the executive branch of state government, rules are operating principles or orders created by an office of the state under authority granted by the Legislature. These administrative rules have the force and effect of law.

Administrative rules are not actually enacted by the Legislature. Rather, the Legislature merely gives the state agency or unit the authority to establish its own rules..

The court rules also contain court orders, notes, and comments of the drafters.

4. What is an act?
Act is the official name for a bill that has been enrolled for presentation to the Governor. Each act is assigned a chapter number and, for example in the State of Minnesota, is published in the bound volume called the Session Laws of the State of Minnesota.

This book serves as the only official record for temporary and special laws, such as laws for a specific unit of government or a law containing an appropriation.

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