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Although the State of Minnesota is not shut down, many state employees are working remotely and many state buildings are closed as the state works to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Consult the Minnesota Department of Health and our COVID-19 guide for more information.

Last reviewed January 2020

Minnesota Issues Resource Guides
State Government Shutdowns

This guide is compiled by staff at the Minnesota Legislative Reference Library on a topic of interest to state legislators. It introduces the topic and points to sources for further research. It is not intended to be exhaustive.

The past several decades have seen some tough economic times and challenging budget decisions for Minnesota state policymakers. In 2001, a shutdown of state government was averted at the last moment while 2005 saw a partial shutdown that lasted for almost two weeks. In 2011, a government shutdown began on July 1, 2011 and lasted for 20 days.

A state government shutdown impacts the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of Minnesota government - and indeed, all Minnesotans. Retired Ramsey County District Court judge Kathleen Gearin has offered some fascinating insight into the involvement of the courts in government shutdown proceedings in her recent article, "The 'Law of Ramsey County'–Reflections of a Trial Judge on State Government Gridlock" (Mitchell Hamline Law Review, Vol. 45 no. 2, 2019.)

There have been ongoing legislative efforts to in Minnesota to pass a law that would ensure continuing appropriations in the event of future budget stalemates. A 2019 Minnesota House Research Department report, Automatic Continuing Appropriations and Government Shutdowns, explores how broad automatic continuing appropriations laws function in other states and how a similar law might operate in Minnesota. Minnesota legislative bills related to automatic continuing appropriations, introduced between 2005 and 2019, are detailed in the report's appendix.  

This guide links to materials that document the shutdown activities of the Minnesota legislature, governor, state agencies, and courts during the 2001, 2005, and 2011 shutdown negotiations.

2011 Minnesota Shutdown

The Legislative Library has compiled a collection of news articles about the 2011 government shutdown. Arranged chronologically and compiled in notebooks, the articles provide an excellent timeline and documentation of the 2011 shutdown. The notebooks are available in the Library.

Legislative Archives:  

House Press Conference and Senate Press Conference 

Session Daily (House Public Information Services)

2011/2012 meeting archives (Legislative Commission on Planning and Fiscal Policy)

Reports:

Recommended Priority One and Priority Two Critical Services: 2011 Potential Minnesota Government Shutdown. Statewide Contingency Response Team, Commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget, Jim Schowalter, Chair. June 15, 2011.

Recommended Statewide Objectives: 2011 Potential Minnesota Government Shutdown. Statewide Contingency Response Team, Commissioner of Minnesota Management and Budget, Jim Schowalter, Chair. June 15, 2011.

State Government Shutdown Executive Summary. Minnesota Management & Budget, October 2011. (See p. 4 of the report for a timeline of the shutdown.) HJ2053.M6 S74 2011

State Government Shutdown: Internal Controls and Compliance Audit, Fiscal Years 2011 and 2012. Office of the Legislative Auditor, State of Minnesota, 2012. HJ9865 .A27 12-12

Court Documents:

Access to selected court documents is provided in the following list. In addition, a comprehensive collection of 2011 shutdown materials, including court documents and negotiation letters, has been compiled by the Legislative Library.

In re: Temporary Funding of Core Functions of the Executive Branch of the State of Minnesota (Second District Court 62-CV-11-5203):

In re: Temporary Funding of Core Functions of the Judicial Branch of the State of Minnesota (Second District Court 62-CV-11-5361):

In re: State Senator Warren Limmer, et al. vs. Lori Swanson in her official capacity as Attorney General, et al. (Minnesota Supreme Court A11-1107):

In re: State Senator Warren Limmer, et al. vs. Lori Swanson in her official capacity as Attorney General, et al. (Minnesota Supreme Court A11-1222):

2005 Minnesota Shutdown 

The Library has compiled a notebook of materials related to the 2005 shutdown. The notebook is available in the Library; legislators and legislative staff can access the contents online.

Potential 2005 State Government Shutdown DocumentsCompiled by the Legislative Library. HJ2053.M6 O68 2005

Power of the Purse in Minnesota. Peter Wattson, Senate Counsel, 2007. HJ7599 .W38 2007

Senate Budget Negotiation Videos (Minnesota Senate Media Services) - Scroll down to the June 2005 events.

Writ of Quo Warranto Litigation (2005-2007) - A summary by the Legislative Library.

2001 Minnesota Shutdown Planning

State Shutdown Coordinating Team Announces "Critical Services" to be Continued in Event of a Government Shutdown. St. Paul: Minnesota Shutdown Communications Center, 2001. JK6160.P44 S73 2001

Materials Regarding Potential 2001 Government Shutdown. St. Paul, 2001. Selected court documents, compiled by the Minnesota Legislative Library. HJ2053.M6 M38 2001

Shutdowns in Other States

Government Shutdown in the United States. Wikipedia. (Includes information on both federal and state government shutdowns.)

"Late State Budgets.LegisBrief (NCSL), June 2017.

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