Governors are expected to set the agenda for legislative sessions and Gov. Mark Dayton’s has a refreshing one.
Dayton is calling for next year’s session to be an “unsession.”
Dayton wants lawmakers to focus on pruning unneeded laws from the books, rather than focusing entirely on adding new laws.
Dayton’s plan isn’t focused on saving money — although that would be one of the positive results. Instead he wants lawmakers to remove old laws that needlessly slow down Minnesota businesses and residents who deal with government agencies. In short he wants to remove redundant or excess rules to make government better, faster and simpler.
Minnesota Public Radio reports that nearly 1,600 suggestions have come in and the governor has been personally sorting through them.
Some of those suggestions are common sense and fairly simple to do, such as a “plain language implementation” that would cut jargon that many people don’t understand. Others are more grand, such as to reduce the number of legislators.
Of course, there will be plenty of other business that lawmakers want and need to deal with in the upcoming session.
High on the list will be a bonding bill — something that is traditionally done in even-numbered years.
There is a long backlog of construction and repair projects in the state that have been delayed during the years of budget crisis. College and university buildings, the state hospital in St. Peter, renovation of the Capitol and other worthy projects around the state need attention. And Mankato has for years watched as a strongly supported improvement to the civic center has been ignored.
As always, there will be debate on the scale of any bonding bill, but a sizable one will be necessary to begin to catch up on construction and repair.
Lawmakers also will be revisiting some of the tax changes made in the last session, such as an unpopular and what many call counterproductive tax on repair work.
Whatever is on their agendas, lawmakers should not only follow Dayton’s “unsession” lead but also take Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk’s advice to heart. Bakk noted that the session will be short and doesn’t start until the end of February. “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.”