Dayton says changes will streamline government

Because of Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature, it's no longer a misdemeanor to carry fruit in the wrong sized container. Insurance policies won't be allowed to be sold in vending machines, and the state won't regulate the size and color of bug deflectors.

Those are just some of the 1,175 laws and regulations that were either revised, reduced or eliminated this year, an effort that will make state government work better, Dayton said Tuesday.

The changes range from tax code simplification to removing outdated laws from the statute books. They were all part of an initiative Dayton dubbed the “unsession.”

There was also legislation aimed at reducing the time businesses wait for permits from state agencies. The governor issued an executive order as part of the initiative requiring the use of commonly-used language in government communications.

During a news conference Tuesday, Dayton thanked lawmakers for passing more changes than were in his original proposal.

“Things don’t get undone in government very readily,” Dayton said. “They tend to just carry on because they’re in statute and people assume there’s automatic permanence there.”

The elimination of antiquated laws also included telegraph regulations and a measure that banned people from driving in neutral.

But a requirement for the state agriculture commissioner to capture wild boars is still on the books. It turns out that example wasn't as old or as outdated as some had first thought. The law actually regulates the importation, possession and release of a "restricted species," and the agriculture department didn't want to lose any of its authority over Eurasian Wild Pigs.

Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board Commissioner Tony Sertich, who headed up the effort, said there were concerns raised about getting rid of that one.

“You bring all these ideas to the table and we find out if these laws are still needed,” Sertich said. “We found out the wild boar law is still needed.”

Despite the long list of accomplishments, Dayton said it was a “major disappointment” that lawmakers didn't approve his proposal for shortening the administrative rule making process. He wanted the timeline for agencies to approve noncontroversial rules reduced to a 6 to 8 months, from the current 18 to 24 months.    

“There were some legislative objections to that from people who just didn't kind get with the spirit of what was intended there,” he said.

Republicans disagreed. House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown, said a shorter rule-making timeline would have meant fewer opportunities for the public to weigh in.

“The more we just give the administration more authority to make the rules they want, the more that Minnesotans are left out of the process,” Daudt said.

Daudt said he was unimpressed with Dayton’s unsession accomplishments, which be believes were largely overshadowed by DFL-backed spending increases over the past two years.

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