Ask the Chief: Laws come from many sources


"Ask The Chief" allows readers access to useful information about law enforcement issues in Red Wing. This communication tool has been developed to enhance community policing efforts by providing residents and visitors with the opportunity to ask questions about local laws, programs and the department in general.

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Q: Where do our local, state, and federal laws come from?

A: Our laws come from several sources. One source is from our Constitution (we celebrated "Constitution Day" on Sept. 17, 2017), court decisions either at the federal level or state level, and they also come from administrative agencies.

The American legal system rests on what is known as common law, that is, a law that is made by judges, not by legislatures. Minnesota state statutes are laws made by our legislatures, or lawmaking bodies, are called statutes. Statutes are continually being passed by Congress, state assemblies, county boards, city councils and more. Agency regulations are certain special laws, called regulatory laws. These laws are created by government agencies (such as the Environmental Protection Agency, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, etc) that have been set up and given their authority by legislative bodies.

Federal laws apply to everyone in the United States. State and local laws apply to people who live, work or visit in the jurisdiction (boundaries) of Minnesota (or of the given state).

Federal laws are rules that apply throughout the United States. These laws apply in every state, such as: Immigration law, bankruptcy law, federal anti-discrimination and civil rights laws that protect against racial, age, gender and disability discrimination, patent and copyright laws, and federal criminal laws such as laws against tax fraud and the counterfeiting of money.

State laws apply within the given state and several commonwealths and territories within the United States, they apply to residents and visitors of the applicable state.

Each has its own system of laws and courts that handle: Criminal matters, divorce and family matters, welfare, public assistance or Medicaid matters, wills, inheritances and estates, real estate and other property and business contracts, personal injuries such as from a car accident or medical malpractice, workers compensation for injuries at work.

Local laws apply to everyone who resides in a certain counties, cities, municipalities, towns, townships and villages in each state, commonwealth or territory. Some of them have their own system of laws and courts that handle: Rent laws, zoning, and local public safety.

Additional resources:


Minnesota Statues:

Local Ordinances:

Legal Assistance: