Charter History

Explore the history of the City’s home rule charter.

History of the City Charter

Minnesota was the fourth state in the U.S. to permit “home rule” through a constitutional amendment approved in 1896. That amendment allowed citizens to create City governments separate from the standard plans established under state law. Essentially, a home rule charter served as a constitution for a local government. It allows a community to establish and maintain a municipal corporation to provide for the common health, safety, and welfare of its people.

Several early attempts to establish a home rule charter in Minneapolis failed, despite its rapid growth. Finally, in 1920, the matter was resolved by the State Legislature when it codified the general statutes applicable to first class cities as well as all special laws specific to the City of Minneapolis at that time into the City’s first home rule charter. That charter remained in effect—through multiple amendments—until 2013, when a complete revision, including the incorporation of plain language principles, was adopted by voters. The Plain Language Revision of the Minneapolis City Charter, adopted in 2013, became effective January 1, 2015.

Why was the Charter revised?

The original Charter adopted in 1920 contained old terms like 'heretofore' and 'forthwith.'  Even attorneys had a hard time understanding it. Over the years, the Charter had also been amended to include disorganized and contradicting information.

So in 2013, voters were asked if the Charter should be amended to modernize, simplify, and redraft the Charter in plain modern language.  The ballot question passed overwhelmingly.

The revision process took over a decade.  The changes are reflected in the current City Charter.

See the Minneapolis City Charter

Curious how it changed?

See a side-by-side comparison of the new text and the old

City Charter and resources

The City Charter is published online.

Search the City Charter

We've also published historical documents related to the City Charter and the complete 1960-1960 City Charter & Code of Ordinances.

See City Charter documents