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Laws regulating elevator operators, wild boars targeted in 'Unsession'

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If a wild boar gets loose in Minneapolis or St. Paul, Minnesota law requires the state agriculture commissioner to personally capture it.

Both of the elevator operators working in Minnesota still need to be licensed by the state.

And if you should happen to purchase some fruit, be very careful that the container it comes in does not violate the law regulating such packages.

These and other state laws deemed unnecessary, redundant, or just plain ridiculous have been targeted by the administration of Gov. Mark Dayton, who is urging the Legislature to repeal them in what Dayton calls an "Unsession," the Associated Press reports.

FOX 9 offers some more of the obsolete laws highlighted by the administration. The telegraph industry, for example, is more thoroughly regulated by the state than the Internet is. A holdover from 1937 prohibits motorists from driving a car in neutral (which can't even be done, can it?). Another bans the sale of insurance policies through vending machines.

Clearing unneeded laws from the books is part of a broader reform effort that Dayton says will help state government work better.

Other elements of the Unsession:

– A plain language initiative. Dayton is telling state agencies to use common language and cut down on jargon and acronyms to make their writing more understandable.

– A move to streamline the environmental permit process. Dayton says most permit applications should be processed within 90 days.

– A simpler tax code.

– Steps to speed and simplify the rulemaking process. These are the rules that state agencies write to enforce laws passed by the Legislature. Dayton says it sometimes takes two years to come up with them.

Sen. Roger Chamberlain of Lino Lakes is among Republican lawmakers who are unimpressed. Speaking of the plain language initiative, Chamberlain asked City Pages "Is this the critical issue of the day?"

He went on to say of the Unsession generally, "...it's just the same thing we do every year, scrub bills of obsolete language we don't use anymore, but that's what the Unsession is and it's PR spin and nothing new."

Tony Sertich, a former House member who now leads Dayton's Iron Range economic development group, agrees that purging of old laws is part of the routine at the Capitol. But Sertich tells MinnPost the fact that selling fruit in a wrong-sized container remains a misdemeanor offense shows that the weeding has not been thorough enough.

A separate initiative making its way through the Capitol would eliminate some of the state boards and task forces the Legislature has formed over the years. A panel in December recommended that 37 be disbanded.

The package of changes that Dayton is pushing came in the form of an executive order to state agencies. So the plain language initiative, for example, would not apply to the legislative or judicial branches. Sertich joked to the Pioneer Press "We still wouldn't be able to understand the Legislature and the courts."

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