For more information contact: Matt Privratsky 651-296-6860
Dear Neighbors and Friends,
This week, Governor Dayton unveiled his agenda for the 2014 Unsession. This agenda is meant to make government more efficient and effective by simplifying our state statutes and improving government services. For the past several months I have been working with my legislative colleagues to help Governor Dayton create this comprehensive list of government reforms. In all, the Unsession agenda includes over 1,000 ways to make our government work better.
Getting Rid of Unnecessary (and sometimes ridiculous) Laws
The Governor has instructed his agencies to comb through our state statutes so that we can eliminate outdated or unnecessary laws. This proposal alone would eliminate over 1,000 of those incomprehensible or redundant statutes. Some of them are just plain ridiculous laws that we still have on the books like:
• Right now it is a misdemeanor to carry fruit in an illegally-sized container.
• There are more state laws regulating the telegraph industry than laws regulating the Internet.
• Since 1937, it has been illegal to drive a car in neutral (despite it being impossible to drive a car in neutral).
More examples can be found here. We can certainly get these laws off the book and make our state law books more clear and understandable.
Making Government More User-Friendly
Plain Language: Many of the other Unsession proposals are focused on making government more user-friendly for small businesses and families across Minnesota. One of the simplest changes will come through an executive order that requires state agencies to use plain language that everyone can understand. Some of these changes are already underway. For example, it used to take “11 clicks” from the DNR homepage to reserve a campsite online. Now, campers can get a reservation in “2 clicks.”
Several examples are available by clicking here.
Taxes made simpler: By conforming to federal tax deductions, Minnesota’s tax code will be simpler for Minnesotans. The House is moving quickly on a tax bill that includes this federal tax conformity. Along with making our tax code simpler, it will reduce taxes by $200 million for Minnesotans.
Permitting reform: Too often, our small businesses are forced to wait many months to have their permits approved. Right now, 97 percent of environmental permits for economic development projects are issued in less than 150 days. Through these reforms, a majority of permits should be issued in less than 90 days.
Send me your suggestions
I hope as the session continues that we can find broad bipartisan support for these government reforms. Improving our state government shouldn’t be a matter of politics; it should be a matter of progress. These are common sense fixes that help make life easier for everyday Minnesotan’s. I’m happy to see Governor Dayton make this a priority this session.
If you have some ideas for how to improve state government, please don’t hesitate to send them my way by phone (651-296-3533) or email (email@example.com).
How is the amount of the Bonding Bill decided?
I also wanted to briefly talk a little bit about our bonding bill is put together. A couple weeks ago, someone specifically asked how the state determines the total dollar amount to spend on bonding projects. While the answer isn’t entirely clear cut, there are several guidelines that help create a clearer target for the bill.
The first guideline recommends that overall borrowing shouldn’t exceed 3.25 percent of total state personal income. The second recommends that total borrowing, including money that hasn’t officially been borrowed yet, shouldn’t exceed 6 percent of total state personal income. There are also several guidelines that deal with what type of bonds get used and how quickly they are repaid. Using each of these as a sort of rough outline, we get a window somewhere in the range of $850 million and $1 billion for this year’s bill. The House has yet to unveil our bonding bill, but you can expect it to fall somewhere around that range.
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