ST. PAUL (AP) - A Minnesota judge has upheld a new state law that allows counties to hire private companies for their annual audits.

State Auditor Rebecca Otto is fighting the 2015 law that lets counties forego her office for the financial reviews. The ruling by Ramsey County Judge Lezlie Ott Marek released Tuesday preserves the auditor's ultimate jurisdiction to conduct reviews in certain circumstances at county expense.

Republican Rep. Sarah Anderson spearheaded the law change that gave counties more room to opt out of the state-conducted audits and enter into contracts with private firms. At least 50 of Minnesota's 87 counties are planning to hire outside companies.

Otto plans to ask a higher court to step in.