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 From reforms that will improve state government services, to the elimination of unnecessary and outdated statutes, to simplifying the language of our state laws, the Governor’s Unsession proposals have one overriding goal: creating a Better Government for a Better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.
Department of Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson (back left) and the pharmaceutical safety team
Today, 78 state employees from 15 state agencies were recognized for outstanding achievements that have reformed state government and saved taxpayer dollars. In the Governor’s ongoing effort to build a Better Government for a Better Minnesota, state agencies have worked hard finding innovative ways to deliver better services to Minnesotans while eliminating wasteful spending, improving efficiencies, and strengthening measures of accountability.
The Governor’s Continuous Improvement Awards celebrate individual and organizational achievements that have increased the productivity and efficiency of state government services, while improving the delivery and responsiveness of customer service. Twenty-eight teams from across the administration were nominated for this year’s awards, with six receiving recognition at today’s award ceremony for their extraordinary achievements.
This week marks the beginning of the Minnesota State Fair; and Governor Mark Dayton is asking Minnesotans for their ideas to make state government better, faster, and simpler.
At more than a dozen state agency booths across the State Fair, fair-goers will be able to find more information about Governor Dayton’s ‘Unsession’ Agenda, and have an opportunity to provide their suggestions to the Governor. Suggestion boxes will be set up at each state agency booth, and Minnesotans will also be able to submit their Unsession ideas online over the next several weeks. The Governor is asking specifically for ideas for the upcoming 2014 Legislative Session.
The Unsession, proposed by Governor Dayton, will focus on eliminating unnecessary or redundant laws, rules, and regulations, and getting rid of anything else that makes state government nearly impossible for people to understand.
“My request of Minnesotans is simple: send me your Unsession suggestions,” said Governor Dayton. “Send big ideas that could revolutionize how state government operates, or commonsense changes that would eliminate headaches for Minnesotans. I invite every Minnesotan to join in building a better state government that better serves you.”
The Dayton Administration is also asking state employees for their ideas. The Governor sent a personal email to the state’s more than 30,000 state employees this week, asking for their reform ideas and suggestions. Already, nearly 1,200 state employees have registered to participate, and over 300 Unsession suggestions have been collected from state employees in just the first four days.
Improving how state government works has been a hallmark of the Dayton Administration. State employees have already made important reforms that have saved Minnesotans time and money – including changing the way the state pays for health care, reducing expensive and time-consuming paperwork, and creating new online solutions for permit applications. Other examples of improvements achieved over the last several years include reducing the waiting times for vehicle registrations from 90 days to just 10 days, cutting environmental permit waits by over 40 percent, and making hunting and fishing licenses available on smartphones.
Submit Your Unsession Suggestion
If you have a good idea for how to make state government better, faster, or simpler, Governor Dayton wants to hear from you. Over the next three weeks, the Governor will be accepting suggestions online and at the Minnesota State Fair. Your idea might just be the next big reform measure that could save Minnesotans time and money.
To submit your idea, visit any state agency booth at the Minnesota State Fair, or visit the Governor’s Unsession Suggestion website at www.mn.gov/governor/unsession.