The Unsession: Creating a Better Government for a Better Minnesota
Governor Mark Dayton and key members of the Cabinet today unveiled his administration’s legislative agenda for the 2014 Unsession. Governor Dayton’s reform proposals include over 1,000 ways to make state government work better for the people of Minnesota. From reforms that will improve state government services, to the elimination of unnecessary and outdated statutes, to simplifying the language of our state laws, the Governor’s Unsession proposals have one overriding goal: creating a Better Government for a Better Minnesota.
“Some people like to talk about reform. We really mean it,” said Governor Dayton. “During the past three years, we have worked hard to improve and streamline state government – saving Minnesota citizens and businesses time and money. I look forward to working with the Legislature to build on that progress and give Minnesotans the high-value, efficient services they deserve.”
In his 2013 State of the State Address, Governor Dayton proposed making the 2014 Legislative Session an “Unsession.” During the Unsession, the Governor has asked legislators to devote their efforts to eliminating excessive laws, rules, and regulations; and getting rid of anything else that makes government nearly impossible to understand. After months of preparation – having gathered input from thousands of citizens, legislators, and state employees – Governor Dayton today laid out a roadmap for reforms, both big and small, that will make a difference in the lives of Minnesotans.
Plain Language Executive Order
Dense forms, documents, and websites full of complicated jargon and hard-to-find links create confusion and waste Minnesotans’ time. To make state government work better for the people it serves, Governor Dayton has signed an Executive Order implementing the state’s first-ever Plain Language policy. The Governor’s Plain Language initiative will direct all state agencies to use commonly used language, write in clear and concise sentences, and reduce the use of jargon and acronyms that make state government nearly impossible to understand. More information about the Governor’s Plain Language initiative is available here. Examples of what Plain Language looks like are available here.
Since taking office, Governor Dayton has made streamlining environmental permitting a top priority. The Dayton Administration has made permitting faster and more predictable for Minnesota businesses, while ensuring strong environmental protections remain in place. Today, 97 percent of environmental permits for economic development projects are issued in less than 150 days. Governor Dayton believes we can do better. As part of the Unsession, the Governor is proposing new reforms that would ensure that 11,000 of the 15,000 permit requests each year are completed in 90 days or less. Many of the remaining permits would be completed in less than 150 days. More information about this initiative is available here.
Nearly 400,000 military veterans call Minnesota home. We are proud to have them. Our veterans have bravely answered the call to service. From the Battle of Gettysburg to Iraq and Afghanistan, Minnesotans have fought to protect our country and our freedoms. Many of Minnesota’s veterans don’t stop serving when they leave the military either.
In 2013, Governor Mark Dayton signed new legislation to help our veterans make the transition. The new reform makes it easier for active duty service members to transition into jobs on the police force. The bill allows military service members to take a police officer reciprocity exam while they are on active duty. Previously, service members were only allowed to take the reciprocity exam after they were honorably discharged. This change allows men and women in the Armed Forces to move into civilian service without a long delay in employment.
Gov. Dayton greeted Minnesota veterans at the dedication of the Madelia Veterans Memorial.
Minnesotans have always found ways to serve. From the 435 men who volunteered to join the 1st Minnesota Infantry Regiment in 1861 and went on to fight at Bull Run, Antietam, and Gettysburg, to the thousands who served in World War I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflicts, thousands of Minnesotans have bravely fought and died for our country.
To honor and remember the sacrifices of Minnesota veterans, Governor Mark Dayton helped dedicate the Madelia Veterans’ Memorial last Friday. The site commemorates the sacrifices of veterans in southwestern Minnesota – including 300 veterans from the Madelia-area.
This year, Governor Dayton and the Legislature also honored the sacrifices of Minnesota veterans – funding $23 million in new veteran initiatives.
• The largest amount – $18 million is going to complete the expansion of the Minneapolis Veterans’ Home. The improved facility will provide high-quality, skilled nursing services for veterans.
• They also provided $1 million to expand the Minnesota GI Bill to help all veterans get a great education after completing their service. Previously, this education benefit was only available to post-9/11 veterans.
• The Governor’s budget also includes an additional $2 million for county veteran service offices across Minnesota. This increased funding will help Minnesota veterans and their families access the benefits and services they have earned.
Minnesota service members and veterans sacrifice greatly for our country. Initiatives and memorials like these are important ways to say thank you.
Minnesota resident military veterans with service-connected permanent disability, as defined by the U.S. Veterans Administration, may obtain an application online at www.mndnr.gov/military
Fort Snelling has one of the few cemeteries for veterans in Minnesota.
Minnesota veterans lack options for their final resting places. This past legislative session, Governor Dayton and the DFL legislature provided new funding for another state veteran’s cemetery in southeastern Minnesota.
Currently, southeastern Minnesota veterans only have access to the Fort Snelling or Little Falls cemetery sites, both of which are at least two hours away. The lack of nearby options leads many families to bury their loved ones at private cemeteries or churches. Historic Fort Snelling has more than 180,000 internments and will likely reach capacity in the next 50 years, meaning Minnesota needs additional space for veterans soon.
The funding will allow a new cemetery to open during the winter of 2015. Generously, Fillmore County has donated 153 acres for the cemetery – reducing the cost to Minnesota taxpayers. The new site will provide space for more than 50,000 veterans. And there’s definitely a need for the space. Right now, there are over 39,000 veterans within a 75-mile radius of Preston, Minnesota.
The new site also will help businesses in the area, creating new jobs, while honoring veterans. As visitors come to pay their respects, many businesses – such as restaurants, floral shops and hotels – will be able to attract new customers and guests.
Governor Dayton remains committed to supporting veterans now and in the future. And this new cemetery site will help us remember and honor the sacrifices that American’s armed forces make for all of us.
Photo Credit: Minnesota National Guard.
Providing military funerals is one way we show our gratitude to those who, in times of war and peace, have faithfully defended our country. This year, Governor Mark Dayton and the legislature provided new funding for the Minnesota Department of Veterans Affairs’ funeral honor guard.
In recent years, funding for the honor guard has wavered. In 2011, the guard wasn’t funded and was only continued by shifting resources from other Veterans Affairs’ resources. Veterans regularly cite the funeral honor guard as one of the top benefits of military service making continued support for this program all the more essential.