Friday, August 28, 2015

Research Q of the Week: How to Amend an Ordinance (8/28/15)

Question: We just passed an ordinance not that long ago, and now it needs to be amended.  How does the city amend an ordinance?

Answer: You actually already know how to do it! The council must follow the same procedures for amending an ordinance as it does for passing the ordinance in the first place. That means the change in an ordinance can’t be done by resolution, but must be passed as an amending ordinance.

After the amendment is passed by a majority of the council, the ordinance must be attested to, published, and included in the ordinance book.

A common question is how should the amendment look? The form of the amendment should be like new ordinances with respect to title, enacting clause, body, closing, and signatures.

If the ordinance is short or if the changes are numerous, the council will usually re-pass the entire ordinance in its amended form, repealing the old ordinance in a separate section. Another option would be to title the new ordinance as an amendment, and then recite the entire ordinance as it would read after amendment.

If the ordinance to be amended is so long that the cost of publishing it in its entirety would be costly, the council can pass an amending ordinance that only includes the sections that will change. The council can include several amendments to the same ordinance in different sections of the same amending ordinance.

For more information, see the chapter on Meetings, Motions, Resolutions and Ordinances found in the Handbook for Minnesota Cities. 

Written by Irene Kao, research attorney with the League of Minnesota Cities. Contact: or (651) 281-1224

This blog post conveys general information. It’s not legal advice. Please check with your city attorney before acting on this information.

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