ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Republicans at the Legislature want to shorten the statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits and make other business-backed changes to Minnesota’s civil justice system.

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hear bills Thursday afternoon that backers say will make the civil legal system more efficient, cut business expenses and increase productivity. Democratic critics say the biggest losers would be accident victims, cheated consumers and others who seek justice through the courts.

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One bill would drop Minnesota’s statute of limitations for filing civil lawsuits from six to four years. Another would create an automatic appeal to all class action lawsuit certifications.

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The bills are backed by a wide range of business groups. But Democratic Sen. Ron Latz says the changes would harm Minnesota’s tradition of strong consumer protections.

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