Governor Mark Dayton today signed a key Unsession measure into law that aims to significantly reduce the time it takes state government agencies to process environmental permits for job-creating projects. The new law (Chapter 237, HF 2543) contains 11 of the more than 1,000 Unsession provisions Governor Dayton proposed to the Legislature in early March. It enacts new procedures and timelines to streamline the permitting process, helping ensure that an estimated 11,000 of the 15,000 permit requests the state receives from businesses each year are completed in 90 days or less. Most of the remaining permits will be completed in less than 150 days.
"Some people talk about reforming government. We do it," said Governor Dayton. "During the past three years, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency has significantly reduced the time needed to issue job-creating environmental permits. The additional reforms I signed into law today will cut wait times for most businesses by another 40 percent. They will provide more certainty for businesses wanting to expand and create jobs here in Minnesota, while continuing our state's strong environmental protections."
When Governor Dayton took office in 2011, he made streamlining the environmental permitting process a top priority. Previously, businesses in Minnesota were often forced to wait months, and sometimes even years, to have their permits approved by state agencies. Long, unnecessary delays cost businesses time and money, and stifled job creation. But thanks to new reforms implemented by Governor Dayton and the Legislature in 2011, more than 97 percent of priority permits are now issued in less than 150 days. The bill the Governor signed into law today sets a goal to reduce those wait times for most businesses to just 90 days.
These new reforms garnered broad bipartisan support in the Legislature this session, passing the House by a vote of 92-39, and the Senate by a vote of 61-1. The bill was authored by state Sen. Bev Scalze and state Rep. Melissa Hortman.
Improving Efficiency, Reducing Wait Times
The new reforms signed into law by Governor Dayton today will continue the enforcement of Minnesota's strong environmental protections, while improving the efficiency of the permitting process. The reform measure makes the following changes to state law.
Ten-Year Permits for Low-Risk Projects
Rather than asking businesses to re-apply for non-controversial permits every five years, the law creates a new ten-year permit for non-federal permits that present a low risk to our environment and human health. To ensure strong environmental protections, businesses that propose changes to their facilities within that ten-year time-period would be required to re-submit their permit application for review.
A Two-Tiered Strategy for Streamlining Permit Review
The Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and the Department of Natural Resources review and issue a wide variety of complex permits every year. To ensure these permits are reviewed responsibly and efficiently, the law creates a new two-tiered system that will streamline the permitting process.
90-Day Goal -- An estimated 11,000 permits every year, including the most general and registration permits for air, water, and land, will be issued in 90 days or less.
150-Day Goal -- Most complex air, water, and land construction permits that require public comment periods and more detailed review will be issued in 150 days.
Making the Permitting Process More Flexible
If a business wants to expedite their project, they can help pay for private consultants and staff overtime at state agencies after a permit application has been submitted for approval. To make the process even more flexible, the new law now allows businesses to speed up the permitting process before it starts -- creating a fee-for-service model that involves state agencies earlier in the process to eliminate confusion and ensure the business and state regulators have clear expectations and a shared understanding of the project.
About the Unsession
Governor Dayton's Unsession 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 overarching goal: creating a Better Government for a Better Minnesota. More information about the Governor's Unsession proposals is available online at http://mn.gov/governor/unsession.