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article imageThe Minnesota 'unsession' initiative

By Ryan Hite     May 29, 2014 in Politics
Minneapolis - It is no longer a crime in Minnesota to carry fruit in an illegally sized container. The state's telegraph regulations are no more. And it's now legal to drive a car in neutral... if you can figure out how to do it. Thank goodness!
Those and more are among the 1,175 obsolete, unnecessary and incomprehensible laws that Gov. Dayton and the Legislature repealed over the past year as part of the governor's unsession initiative with the goal to make the government work better...
"I think we're off to a very good start," Dayton said Tuesday in a news conference.
In addition to getting rid of outdated laws, the initiative made taxes much simpler, cut red tape, sped up business permits, and required agencies to communicate in plain language.
They kept some silly laws, like a law on the books that requires state Agriculture Commissioner Frederickson to personally capture or destroy any wild boar that gets loose in the twin cities.
The two biggest reforms are speeding the business permitting process and the plain language requirement, which makes it easier to start businesses in the state.
Under a new law, the Pollution Control Agency and Department of Natural Resources must attempt to issue environmental permits to businesses within 90 days. The administration estimates 11,000 of the 15,000 permit requests it receives each year will meet that goal, and more complex permits will be issued within 150 days.
Dayton also issued an executive order in March to direct state agencies to communicate with citizens and businesses in an easy-to-understand language. Thousands of state employees have now received plain-language training.
A $447 million tax cut that Dayton signed in March not only provides income tax relief, but also simplified filing returns by making state tax laws conform to changes in the federal tax codes.
Another of the new law has cut in half the amount of time businesses must retain employment records. Many councils that were deemed useless were also eliminated. Many of the ideas were submitted by citizens and legislators to get rid of.
Most of the new laws were passed with strong bipartisan support, according to the governor.
The only initiative that failed was a measure intended to speed up the administrative rule-making process. Some Republican lawmakers argued that proposal would shift too much power from elected representatives to unelected bureaucrats. It is proof of how governments can get rid of laws very quickly.
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