ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — In Gov. Mark Dayton’s ideal scenario, the focus for next year’s Minnesota legislative session will be on pruning old, unneeded laws from the books.
Dayton has been collecting ideas from the public and his administrative agencies for the so-called unsession. He has said his inspiration for an unsession came from a 1970s-era advertising slogan for 7-Up that billed the soft drink as the “uncola.”
Minnesota Public Radio News reported Monday that 1,579 suggestions have come in and the governor has been personally sorting through them. The Democrat says the goal is to make government better, faster and simpler.
“I think that’s going to be a huge opportunity to really pare back some of the excesses of government and government rules and regulations and procedures that just take up too much time and are duplicative or redundant or obsolete,” Dayton said.
Among the ideas: “Plain Language Implementation” that aims to cut jargon that many people might not understand from official statements. Other public submissions have been to slim the 201-member Legislature, to merge parts of the higher education system and to hold an annual bake sale to boost state finances.
Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, DFL-Cook, cautioned that time will be limited to take up proposals.
“I think we’re probably headed for a very short legislative session, coming in on Feb, 25,” he said. “So, people are going to have to get their ideas on paper and in bill form and really ready for introduction probably in that first week or two of the session if anything serious is going to be considered.”
Republicans have their own idea for an unsession — to roll back tax and spending increases from last spring.
“In a $37 or $38 billion budget, I’m sure that there are all kinds of places that we can find more efficiencies and more savings,” said House Minority Leader Kurt Daudt, R-Crown. “So, I think it’s a great opportunity to continue to look for those things, and hopefully we can find quite a few.”
House Speaker Paul Thissen, DFL-Minneapolis, does not see it as an opportunity for Republicans to revisit the current budget.
“I don’t think the governor’s approach is about attacking the idea of government itself,” he said. “But I think what we’re all in favor of is making sure that government works as effectively as possible, and I think the idea of the unsession and forcing ourselves to look at those things in a renewed way is very positive.”
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