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Legislative News and Views - Rep. Paul Torkelson (R)

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REP. TORKELSON: TO HELP CREATE MORE JOBS, MINNESOTA MUST IMPROVE PERMITTING PROCESS

Wednesday, January 05, 2011
ST. PAUL – In an effort to bring more job opportunities to Minnesota’s workforce, State Representative Paul Torkelson (R-Nelson Township) said he was pleased with a bill that will streamline Minnesota’s cumbersome and often confusing permitting process for those looking to expand their businesses in our state. “A number of companies have told us they wanted to expand in Minnesota but didn’t because it may have taken a year or longer to secure a permit,” Torkelson said. “There’s no reason business owners shouldn’t be able to know exactly how long it will take to receive a permit. This proposal would make the entire process more user-friendly.” Torkelson, who as Vice Chair of the Minnesota House Environment, Energy and Natural Resources Policy and Finance Committee, is expected to play a key role in the bill’s success. Much of the permitting process involves the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, and Torkelson said the committee will work with the agency to approve a bill that will save time and cost while protecting the environment and public health. Torkelson said the permitting changes would include establishing a 150-day goal for the MPCA and DNR to issue permits; eliminating district court review of environmental review decisions with challenges going directly to the Court of Appeals; allowing an applicant to prepare a draft environmental impact statement (EIS) rather than state agency or local unit of government; and requiring that final decisions on permits be made within 30 days of the final approval of an EIS. “There’s no question that Minnesota needs more jobs, and that the permitting process needs to be more efficient,” Torkelson said. “Businesses that want to expand should have a process they can work through rather than something that frustrates them and ultimately fails to create jobs in rural Minnesota.”