Huzzah: Minnesota legislature’s “unsession” repeals 1,200 nonsensical laws and red tape

posted at 4:41 pm on May 29, 2014 by Erika Johnsen

More states, not to mention the federal government, should be doing this. Regularly. Via Pioneer Press:

It’s no longer a crime in Minnesota to carry fruit in an illegally sized container. The state’s telegraph regulations are gone. And it’s now legal to drive a car in neutral — if you can figure out how to do it.

Those were among the 1,175 obsolete, unnecessary and incomprehensible laws that Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature repealed this year as part of the governor’s “unsession” initiative. …

“We got rid of all the silly laws,” said Tony Sertich, the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board commissioner who headed Dayton’s effort.

But even better than getting rid of outdated and downright ridiculous laws clogging up the books that nobody would bother to enforce anyway, the state also cut several areas of red tape for businesses, implemented a requirement that its agencies communicate with residents and businesses in plain language, slimmed down its tax code, and got rid of a handful of obsolete bureaucratic minutiae:

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. …

A $447 million tax cut bill that Dayton signed in March not only provided income tax relief but also simplified filing returns by making state tax law conform to changes in the federal tax code. Those revisions “made tax forms easier to understand and less time-consuming to prepare” for more than 1 million Minnesota taxpayers, the governor said. …

Legislators launched an initiative that got rid of more than 30 advisory boards, councils and task forces that had outlived their usefulness.

Taking a moment out of the regularly scheduled lawmaking to deliberately examine opportunities for unlawmaking is never a bad idea; perhaps the results of this “unsession” initiative won’t amount to all that much in the grand scheme of bureaucratic convolution, but it’s at least a step in the right direction.


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Almost surreal

Schadenfreude on May 29, 2014 at 4:42 PM

Minnesota did this? Not Texas or Georgia?

bossmanham on May 29, 2014 at 4:43 PM

And yet this state elected has Al Franken as a Senator.

nobar on May 29, 2014 at 4:44 PM

More states, not to mention the federal government, should be doing this. Regularly

Absofreakinglutely, starting with the IRS laws

Garyinaz66 on May 29, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Absofreakinglutely, starting with the IRS laws

Garyinaz66 on May 29, 2014 at 4:45 PM

Repeal the 16th amendment and the IRS problems would take care of themselves.

gryphon202 on May 29, 2014 at 4:48 PM

And yet this state elected has Al Franken as a Senator.

nobar on May 29, 2014 at 4:44 PM

Franken isn’t part of the State legislative body.

Good on Minnesota.

upinak on May 29, 2014 at 4:49 PM

Who is that guy signing that, and what did he do with Mark Dayton?

On a partly related issue – Al Franken, despite his pre-election career, despicable election story, and being a fairly reliable rubber stamp for Harry Reid, turned out to be one of the quietest Democrats in the Senate. I’d take him over Feinstein or Schumer any day. Second look at Minnesota?

Rix on May 29, 2014 at 4:54 PM

As much as I disagree with Dayton’s politics, I’ll give credit where it’s due: this is one of those occasions where good policy is also good politics.

It’s also a reason why I think *all* laws should have a sunset provision in, say, 5 years. If it’s a good law, it’ll be easy to convince people to renew it.

Mohonri on May 29, 2014 at 4:55 PM

Franken isn’t part of the State legislative body.

Good on Minnesota.

upinak on May 29, 2014 at 4:49 PM

He is as much a elected representative as the state legislators. It paints a weird picture of the voters there.

nobar on May 29, 2014 at 4:55 PM

I’m glad to see states taking the lead in things. I hope Ohio will do something similar. Every state has dumb laws that there was once a reason for but nobody enforces anyway. Getting rid of them won’t help much. But getting rid of unnecessary agencies and red tape will.

crankyoldlady on May 29, 2014 at 4:56 PM

Minnesotans are stupid jackholes who elect fools, the entire state should be chop-sawed away from the nation and sold to Somalia.

Bishop on May 29, 2014 at 4:57 PM

He is as much a elected representative as the state legislators. It paints a weird picture of the voters there.

nobar on May 29, 2014 at 4:55 PM

He doesn’t make the laws for Minnesota, now does he? Nope. He works with those lovely federal BS artists.

upinak on May 29, 2014 at 4:58 PM

You go, Minnesota!!!

“We got rid of all the silly laws,”

I somehow doubt that, but it’s a good start. Now keep it up! I hope this catches on.

GWB on May 29, 2014 at 5:00 PM

The DFL controlled legislature and democratic Governor Mark Dayton also repealed TAXES which THEY passed into law last year.

JoeHanson on May 29, 2014 at 5:02 PM

And it’s now legal to drive a car in neutral — if you can figure out how to do it.

I seem to remember that one from Wyoming. I believe it’s related to coasting downhill in neutral to save gas. Not the safest idea, but whatevs.

MichaelGabriel on May 29, 2014 at 5:04 PM

The Scott Walker effect?

Theworldisnotenough on May 29, 2014 at 5:06 PM

Minnesotans are stupid jackholes who elect fools, the entire state should be chop-sawed away from the nation and sold to Somalia.

Bishop on May 29, 2014 at 4:57 PM

So I guess that leaves you with the choice of being sold to Somalia or moving to Wisconsin.

*ducks*

Bitter Clinger on May 29, 2014 at 5:07 PM

And it’s now legal to drive a car in neutral — if you can figure out how to do it.

I seem to remember that one from Wyoming. I believe it’s related to coasting downhill in neutral to save gas. Not the safest idea, but whatevs.

MichaelGabriel on May 29, 2014 at 5:04 PM

I do it often in my car or truck on long downhill grades. I believe the law is intended to keep truckers from doing it.

slickwillie2001 on May 29, 2014 at 5:08 PM

Maybe we need to unsession the current Administration.

formwiz on May 29, 2014 at 5:09 PM

You’re allowed to do this?

rbj on May 29, 2014 at 5:18 PM

So, can I walk my pet alligator down the street on a leash now?

dentarthurdent on May 29, 2014 at 5:20 PM

And yet this state elected has Al Franken as a Senator.

nobar on May 29, 2014 at 4:44 PM

And Jesse Ventura.

Lance Corvette on May 29, 2014 at 5:21 PM

“We got rid of all the silly laws,”

Now get rid of all the silly walks.

22044 on May 29, 2014 at 5:22 PM

It seriously depresses me that this is a Democratic initiative with clever branding.

An unsession it is. And Mark Freaking Dayton leads the initiative.

swamp_yankee on May 29, 2014 at 5:22 PM

I do it often in my car or truck on long downhill grades. I believe the law is intended to keep truckers from doing it.

slickwillie2001 on May 29, 2014 at 5:08 PM

I throw my Avalanche into neutral when I’m in 4WD on snow and ice and trying to stop, and it won’t. At times, it feels like the 4WD is pushing through the anti-lock brakes. It keeps sliding for far too long, but as soon as I hit neutral – the truck stops immediately. The one thing I don’t like about the Avalanche.

dentarthurdent on May 29, 2014 at 5:24 PM

Ufdah.

LASue on May 29, 2014 at 5:27 PM

Is this for real? I’m looking around the room, expecting a Rod Serling monologue.

Kingfisher on May 29, 2014 at 5:29 PM

This is a winner for GOP gov candidates.

Lets them have a genuine tangible conservative accomplishment, while also being to claim they will work with good Democratic ideas.

swamp_yankee on May 29, 2014 at 5:29 PM

Don’t believe the 447 mill tax cut. These same clowns raised taxes by 2 billion. Maybe Ed will shine some light on this. Take 4 parts and give 1 back, hey, we cut taxes!

jims on May 29, 2014 at 5:33 PM

slickwillie2001 on May 29, 2014 at 5:08 PM

The highest point on Interstate 80 is between Cheyenne & Laramie (8,640 feet.) That canyon outside Laramie is quite a drop. I knew friends who would try to coast from the summit all the way into town.

Not advisable in winter, though.

MichaelGabriel on May 29, 2014 at 5:38 PM

Every law that empowers the government should have a sunset date no more than 2 governor cycles for states and no more than 2 presidential cycles.

No law should be allowed to be passed until every person voting in favor have fully read it, with proof of the reading.

Every vote in favor of a law must come with an indication of the constitutional authority which allows said law.

No law should be allowed to be voted on in a large package. Every aspect of government should be voted on based upon its own merits.

The legislative branch should only be allowed to work for at most 4 total months out of the year. Preferably in 4 separate sessions every three months.

No legislative branch employee or elected official should be allowed to remain in office or on the job unless they spend at a minimum of 180 days fully accessible to their constituents in their home district.

No employee of a legislator may be from outside the legislators home district.

Employees of the legislators should be paid for from the legislator’s pay.

Legislator’s pay should be reduced to at most 200% of the median individual pay of the nation for federal office.

All laws should be attached to a specific dictionary indicating the meaning of words used in said law and are to be interpreted identically for all time thereafter. Each word with multiple meanings is to be given a designator for which meaning is intended.

All laws should be written in plain English, easily understood by the average high school graduate, along with being attached to a specific dictionary and having all words defined specifically.

All laws should have plain English INTENT written into them. This will give citizens the power to win in court when the intent is subverted by government.

astonerii on May 29, 2014 at 5:43 PM

God bless the DFL….

They’re DOING SOMETHING AND THEY CARE!!!

Seriously..does any other state have a this kind of bastardized Democrat party??

Democratic Farmer Labor Party…Really???

And I thought Wisconsin was the bastion of Socio-Commie Libtard A$$holes…

..P.S. Sorry Bishop.

BigWyo on May 29, 2014 at 5:46 PM

Huzzah: Minnesota legislature’s “unsession” repeals 1,200 nonsensical laws and red tape

And yet this state elected has Al Franken as a Senator.

nobar on May 29, 2014 at 4:44 PM

In Minnesota, apparently its:

OUT: Silly laws.

IN: Silly lawmakers.

landlines on May 29, 2014 at 5:46 PM

OT…can somebody help me out here? I recall a somewhat recent (last two years?) change tin the unemployment rate calculation that reduced the denominator by removing the long term unemployed. I knocking around a troll on another site and need the reference. I think it occurred to coincide with the release of 2nd quarter 2012 data.

DanMan on May 29, 2014 at 5:49 PM

This should be a GOP pillar. Very Coolidge-esque.

Really, embrace a Dem idea. Points and kudos from indies.

And really, shouldnt we have been doing this all along. Perry? Pence? Walker? Christie?

Conservative AND bipartisan. Once in decade opp like welfare reform.

swamp_yankee on May 29, 2014 at 5:50 PM

Bravo Minnesota for setting a fine example for the other 49 states!

In this election year, every current Governor and candidate for Governor should be asked as often as possible when they will be repealing unnecessary laws and red tape in their states.

Let’s make this issue spread nationwide!

wren on May 29, 2014 at 6:00 PM

astonerii on May 29, 2014 at 5:43 PM

This. And with the repeal of the 16th, congress shall pass no law that taxes or impose fees on individuals or corporations without 3/4th ratification of the states. Each tax/fee law may only stand on its own. Each taxing rule shall then sunset in 5 years and may not be renewed except by a new law and another round of ratification.

The fed is free to impose tariffs and what not on the states and it would be up to the states to either come up with the money or tell the fed to kma.

AH_C on May 29, 2014 at 6:04 PM

The DFL controlled legislature and democratic Governor Mark Dayton also repealed TAXES which THEY passed into law last year.

JoeHanson on May 29, 2014 at 5:02 PM

The Scott Walker effect?

Theworldisnotenough on May 29, 2014 at 5:06 PM

I’ll bet they got a tip that Rick Perry was scoping out hotels in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Grammar Nazi on May 29, 2014 at 6:36 PM

This should be done daily in all states, counties, cities and the Federal Gooberment

Obamatrix on May 29, 2014 at 6:40 PM

All legislation should contain a Sunset Clause, when it will expire unless renewed by the legislature under Regular Order.

Another Drew on May 29, 2014 at 6:47 PM

All legislation should contain a Sunset Clause, when it will expire unless renewed by the legislature under Regular Order.

Another Drew on May 29, 2014 at 6:47 PM

I think that’s a Constitutional amendment whose time has arrived.

dreadnought62 on May 29, 2014 at 7:02 PM

Oh, and the other added benefit is that it will keep the legislative lizards busy renewing the necessary laws that it should keep them from getting too many brilliant new ideas. And we know the typical congresscritter hates to miss happy hour.

dreadnought62 on May 29, 2014 at 7:04 PM

Minnesotans are stupid jackholes who elect fools, the entire state should be chop-sawed away from the nation and sold to Somalia.

Bishop on May 29, 2014 at 4:57 PM

Considering the large number of Somalis already IN Minnesota – are you sure it hasn’t already been sold?

…Minnesota, home to the nation’s largest Somali refugee community.

climbnjump on May 29, 2014 at 7:29 PM

Y’know, legislators, if you think that your time in office requires you to be Doing Something, this counts.

Nue Houjuu on May 29, 2014 at 7:42 PM

Anyone remember Newt was actually doing this when they won the House? It was like every Monday or something was deemed “Repeal day.” I doubt a single law they repealed went further than the House.

JellyToast on May 29, 2014 at 8:34 PM

Minnesota did this? Not Texas or Georgia?

bossmanham on May 29, 2014 at 4:43 PM

Texas has a committee which reviews (and occasionally does abolish) agencies, committees and rules:

GOVERNMENT CODE

TITLE 3. LEGISLATIVE BRANCH

SUBTITLE C. LEGISLATIVE AGENCIES AND OVERSIGHT COMMITTEES

CHAPTER 325. SUNSET LAW

jffree1 on May 29, 2014 at 9:27 PM

OT…can somebody help me out here? I recall a somewhat recent (last two years?) change tin the unemployment rate calculation that reduced the denominator by removing the long term unemployed. I knocking around a troll on another site and need the reference. I think it occurred to coincide with the release of 2nd quarter 2012 data.

DanMan on May 29, 2014 at 5:49 PM

That actually happened in 1994, when those who last looked for work more than 4 weeks prior to the survey were deemed as not part of the workforce.

What you’re probably thinking of is the removal of work/work search requirements to receive food stamps, which happened in 2012. That indirectly reduced the workforce due to that 1994 change.

Steve Eggleston on May 30, 2014 at 1:22 AM

You would be surprised how many lawyers are upset by this – they use those ridiculous, outdated laws as alternative “convictions” in courts, to bargain lesser charges for their clients. I know – personally – an attorney here in Raleigh who got a larger charge reduced to “scaring squirrels” because that law exists.

PJ Emeritus on May 30, 2014 at 8:36 AM

Who is that guy signing that, and what did he do with Mark Dayton?

On a partly related issue – Al Franken, despite his pre-election career, despicable election story, and being a fairly reliable rubber stamp for Harry Reid, turned out to be one of the quietest Democrats in the Senate. I’d take him over Feinstein or Schumer any day. Second look at Minnesota?

Rix on May 29, 2014 at 4:54 PM

Well, when you set the bar that low….

There Goes the Neighborhood on May 30, 2014 at 2:15 PM