(Officers Only) Call:

Information for townships regarding Juneteenth holiday and doing business

June 9, 2023

Information for townships regarding Juneteenth from the MAT attorneys:

Session Laws Chapter 5, amended Minn. Stat. § 10.55 & Minn. Stat. § 645.44 subd. 5.  Relevant to townships—645.44 subd. 5 does three things.  

First it defines “Holiday" as including “Juneteenth, June 19.”  

Second, it provides that “No public business shall be transacted on any holiday, except in cases of necessity.”  

Finally, it provides that in cases where June 19 is a Saturday, the preceding day is a holiday and in cases when June 19 is a Sunday, the following day is a holiday.  (For the record New Year’s Day, Independence Day, Veterans Day, and Christmas have the same day-shifting mechanism.)  

Ordinarily under Minn. Stat. § 645.02, the effective date of new laws is August 1 following final enactment.  However, in this case in Section 115 of Chapter 62 of 2023’s session laws—the effective date for this change was set to “the day following final enactment.” Chapter 62 was signed by the Governor on May 24—so Juneteenth is a state holiday upon with “no public business shall be transacted” except “in cases of necessity” this year.

That said, there’s not a lot of authority out there telling us what “necessity” means.  There’s persuasive authority to support the proposition that the ordinary duties of first responders automatically qualify.  Op.Atty.Gen., 276, Jan. 16, 1957 “Duties of firemen and policemen are within the exception “in cases of necessity” within meaning of the fifth subdivision of this section.”  There is also persuasive authority to support the proposition that the town board is allowed to determine whether a “necessity” exists.  Op.Atty.Gen.1934, No. 499, p. 770 (“The test whether public business by town board is necessary within this section is in the discretion of the public body transacting the public business.”)  Finally, our proceedings have a strong presumption of regularity—that is someone challenging a township decision to meet on a holiday would have to show that there was no “necessity.” Ingelson v. Olson, 199 Minn. 422, 431, 272 N.W. 270, 275 (1937).  

Since our townships have been given less than a month’s notice that the holiday will start this year, and given things like the Prompt Payment Act, I suspect that reviewing courts will be generous in their interpretation of what counts as “necessary” this year, but any township that feels like it has to meet on the 19th should be careful to make a record of why it thinks it meets the “necessity” standard.