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Dayton calls unsession a success; medical marijuana bill still unsigned


Gov. Mark Dayton wanted the 2014 legislative session to be an "unsession" – a focus on eliminating old, outdated laws rather than adding new ones, an opportunity to "pare back some of the excesses of government and government rules," as Dayton himself put it last fall.

So here we are seven months later, with 169 different bills having been passed by state lawmakers. Dayton Tuesday called it a "phenomenal success."

“Working together, we revised, reduced, or eliminated nearly 1,200 outdated laws and cumbersome regulations," he said in a statement."

Some of those laws targeted during the unsession included elevator operator licenses, wild boar capture laws, the heavily-regulated telegraph industry, and a law that outlawed driving a car in neutral. Dayton's office provided a list of "ridiculous" statute examples as well.

Dayton also issued an executive order called the "Plain Language" initiative, requiring government agencies to use common terms, write in complete, concise sentences, and limit the use of jargon.

What's Left To Do?

But there's still a little bit left to do.

As of Tuesday morning, Dayton had signed all but four of the passed legislation (and had not used his veto power once). The governor has until Friday to act on the last handful of bills – two of which garnered plenty of attention.

Maybe the most notable is SF2470, better known as the medical marijuana bill.

The legislative session was a tumultuous one for advocates of legalizing medical marijuana. More than once this winter and spring their cause was declared nearly extinct. But patients and their family members were persistent in making their case to state lawmakers and Gov. Mark Dayton. When the measure passed, Dayton signaled he would sign it. According to FOX 9, Dayton said during a conference Tuesday morning he'll sign the bill in the next few days.

The other notable unsigned bill introduces new restrictions to online lottery sales.

A Veto is Possible

Dayton’s feelings toward the online lottery bill are murky; on Tuesday morning Dayton said he was "still torn" over the decision he has to make, FOX 9 reports.

The measure would ban instant online lottery sales, the electronic instant scratch-off tickets that were just implemented in February, and the gas pump lotto pilot project, KARE 11 reported. Lottery Director Edwin Van Petten said last month halting those sales would cost the state about $2.5 million.

Up to this point, the governor has not indicated whether he will sign the bill, previously expressing concern that legislators may be micromanaging the Lottery’s operations. But the Star Tribune says Van Petten – who was handpicked for the position by Dayton in 2012 – “craves” a veto from the governor.

If Dayton does veto the bill, it would be his first – and possibly only – of the session.

Two More Measures

Two more lesser-discussed bills are also awaiting action from Dayton.

– SF1770, which specifies new standards for collecting and storing data when the government enters into a contract with a private entity.

– And HF3302, which is described as correcting "miscellaneous oversights, inconsistencies, ambiguities, unintended results, and technical errors."

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