Senate passes bill to streamline permitting process
The Minnesota Senate passed a bill this week aimed at reducing the timeline and red-tape involved in obtaining permits for Minnesota businesses and residences. State Senator LeRoy Stumpf, DFL-Plummer, said he was very happy to support the bill, which was closely related to several ideas promoted by Governor Mark Dayton in recent weeks.
“Last fall, Governor Dayton visited our region and heard from local business owners about how time-consuming and confusing the state’s permitting process can be,” Sen. Stumpf said. “Governor Dayton fulfilled his promise to address these concerns by issuing an executive order to correct many problems in January. This week, the legislature followed his lead and passed a bill that will address even more issues. I’m very pleased we could act on these priorities so quickly this session.”
The bill, which passed the Senate with bipartisan support, establishes a 150-day goal for the Department of Natural Resources to issue environmental and resource management permits, a move that many believe will cut down on significant wait times typical under the current system. In addition, the DNR now must notify project heads within 30 days if their applications contain deficiencies, and the agency must provide instructions on how to remedy the issues.
The same, 150-day goal is established for the Pollution Control Agency to issue environmental and resource management plans. That agency also must notify project heads of any issues within 30 days of application submission.
“These are small measures that may not seem significant, but to businesses trying to pursue projects in this state, these will be vast improvements,” Sen. Stumpf said. “Many are calling this a jobs bill because it’s a step toward reducing the burdensome regulations that too many job-creators must deal with under today’s standards.”
This week’s bill builds upon action taken by Gov. Dayton in January, Sen. Stumpf said. The governor’s Executive Order directed the commissioners of the DNR and PCA to change several policies, such as enabling electronic submission of permit applications. His order also required the PCA to provide analysis of any water, air or hazardous waste quality standards that are more stringent than the federal government’s standards. That analysis now will include a comparison to similar standards in border states, something particularly important for the Northwest Minnesota border region.
“I’m glad we were able to make these important changes, but I suspect there’s even more that can be done,” Sen. Stumpf said. “I look forward to continuing that conversation as this legislative session progresses, and I encourage anyone with concerns or ideas to share those with me.”