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'Unsession' axes more than 1,000 outdated laws

  • Article by: MIKE CRONIN
  • Associated Press
  • May 27, 2014 - 3:45 PM

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Gov. Mark Dayton said Tuesday that Minnesota residents will find life simpler after a so-called "Unsession" that wiped more than 1,000 outdated or duplicative laws off the books.

Dayton has signed legislation that eliminated 1,175 such laws and issued an executive order all as part of an effort to streamline state government processes. The targeted laws ranged from substantive to the silly. Some proposals are in the name of efficiency while others revisit laws that haven't been enforced in decades.

Tony Sertich, commissioner of the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board, was Dayton's point man on the effort. Sertich said Minnesotans should notice better customer service when they deal with state government.

Sertich called Dayton's executive order requiring all state agencies to communicate in plain language with the public was among the most important ways the Unsession would "save Minnesotans and businesses time and money."

Many changes seem trivial, such as one that eliminates a misdemeanor charge for someone who carries fruit in an illegally sized container. It's unclear whether Minnesota residents will experience any difference in their day-to-day lives for those types of revisions.

But Dayton said one change will make tax forms "easier to understand and less time-consuming to prepare."

Another change reduces the waiting time for business-permit approvals to less than 90 days for most applications. Currently, about 97 percent of permit applications receive approval within the 150-day time period established in 2011, Dayton said.

"Eleven thousand of the 15,000 permit requests will be approved within the 90-day goal, and many of them sooner than that," Dayton said.

John Linc Stine, the Minnesota pollution Control Agency commissioner, said the time was right to set the 90-day goal.

"We will continue to protect public health and the environment," Stine said.

Still, the governor and Sertich conceded that more work could be done to improve Minnesota statutes even further.

For instance, one interpretation of a state law suggests that the commissioner of agriculture is personally on the hook for catching wild boars.

"I still want to release one in Minneapolis or St. Paul and see if Commissioner (Dave) Frederickson can track it down," Sertich joked.

But Sertich added that officials decided the boar law was still needed, so it stayed on the books.

© 2014 Star Tribune