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First bills in Legislature help business

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The Minnesota House's first bills under Republican control are to help business through government red tape.

"One of our top focuses throughout this session is to make Minnesota a more business-friendly state to boost revenue and help people get back to work," Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, said Thursday in an e-mail message to constituents.

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"A common complaint we hear from our small businesses is that our permitting process tends to be cumbersome and quite lengthy compared with neighboring states," Howes said. "It sometimes gets to the point entrepreneurs become discouraged and pull the plug on plans to start up a new business or expand an existing one in Minnesota."

The first two bills introduced in the House will help business to grow in Minnesota, agrees new Rep. Dave Hancock, R-Bemidji.

"I view each of these bills as a way to approach the business community and create jobs in a way that is affordable and sustainable for our economy," Hancock said in a separate e-mail message to constituents.

"Businesses have told us that we need to streamline the permitting process and we are happy to announce this bill that will do so. We hope to have a vote on it sometime next week."

Hancock said House File 1, authored by Roseau freshman Republican Dan Fabian, a teacher and crop insurance adjuster, establishes deadlines for state agencies to consider permits.

The bill would:

E Establish a 150-day goal for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Department of Natural Resources to issue permits and requires a report on applications not meeting that goal.

E Eliminate district court review of environmental review decisions and send all appeals directly to the Court of Appeals.

E Allow a project proposer the option to prepare the draft Environmental Impact Statement, rather than a regulated government unit such as a state agency or local government.

E Require that final decisions on permits be made within 30 days -- rather than 90 days -- of the final approval of an EIS.

E Repeal MPCA rule prohibiting construction before permit issuance for projects requiring national NPDES water permits.

E Require MPCA rulemaking for air, water and hazardous wastes that adopts standards more stringent than any similar federal standard to include documentation that the federal standard does not provide adequate protection for public health and the environment as well as a comparison of the proposed standard with standards in border states and the states within the Environmental Protection Agency Region 5.

House File 2, Hancock said, is authored by another freshman Republican, Rep. King Banaian, a St. Cloud State University professor. That bill calls for priority-based budgeting for state funding.

That bill would:

E Enact a priority-based biennial budget for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 that aligns state's available revenues to core state functions.

E Require a 10-year planned review, beginning in 2013, by the Office of the Legislative Auditor on the sunset of all state agencies, advisory committees, policy boards and agency functions to determine whether a public need exists for continuation.

E Holds public meetings on review to allow citizen engagement.

"Through these bills we are giving business owners more options in how they do business and by allowing the expansion of businesses to stay in Minnesota we can continue to employ and hire hard-working Minnesotans,""Hancock said.

"One thing I encourage developers and local units of government to do is to conduct soil studies, etc., as soon as they determine they'll be necessary," Howes said. "A number of contractors already do this because it helps the preliminary planning process, reduces the amount of time our agencies have to spend on their cases, and often results in faster permitting results."

Howes drops in

On another matter, Howes, chairman of the House Capital Investment Committee which will consider any public works bonding requests, said he paid a courtesy call on Gov. Mark Dayton's office.

"I gave his receptionist my card and figured they'd get back to me sometime down the road when we get in the thick of things this session," he said. "I was pleasantly surprised when they got back to me right away and set up a time to meet with me next week.

"Let's all hope this is an indication of the way things are going to work around here because communication is the key to getting positive result," he added. It will be much easier to find solutions during late-session negotiations if we're all on the same page."

Hancock: English first

Freshman Hancock has yet to author a bill, but he has co-authored 13 bills already.

The first bill he signed onto is authored by Howes and authorizes "Choose Life" state vehicle license plates, with an adoption support account established and money appropriated.

The second bill Hancock signed onto designates English as the official language of Minnesota. Authored by Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Wabasha, the bill mandate English-only state transactions, documents, meetings and proceedings and publicants. It would exempt actions necessary to comply with the Native American Languages Act and other federal laws.

Hancock has also co-authored bills to reduce the size of the Legislature, lift the ban on nuclear ppwer plants, abolish local government mandates and increase the penalty for first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

The Minnesota House's first bills under Republican control are to help business through government red tape.

"One of our top focuses throughout this session is to make Minnesota a more business-friendly state to boost revenue and help people get back to work," Rep. Larry Howes, R-Walker, said Thursday in an e-mail message to constituents.

"A common complaint we hear from our small businesses is that our permitting process tends to be cumbersome and quite lengthy compared with neighboring states," Howes said. "It sometimes gets to the point entrepreneurs become discouraged and pull the plug on plans to start up a new business or expand an existing one in Minnesota."

The first two bills introduced in the House will help business to grow in Minnesota, agrees new Rep. Dave Hancock, R-Bemidji.

"I view each of these bills as a way to approach the business community and create jobs in a way that is affordable and sustainable for our economy," Hancock said in a separate e-mail message to constituents.

"Businesses have told us that we need to streamline the permitting process and we are happy to announce this bill that will do so. We hope to have a vote on it sometime next week."

Hancock said House File 1, authored by Roseau freshman Republican Dan Fabian, a teacher and crop insurance adjuster, establishes deadlines for state agencies to consider permits.

The bill would:

- Establish a 150-day goal for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Department of Natural Resources to issue permits and requires a report on applications not meeting that goal.

- Eliminate district court review of environmental review decisions and send all appeals directly to the Court of Appeals.

- Allow a project proposer the option to prepare the draft Environmental Impact Statement, rather than a regulated government unit such as a state agency or local government.

- Require that final decisions on permits be made within 30 days -- rather than 90 days -- of the final approval of an EIS.

- Repeal MPCA rule prohibiting construction before permit issuance for projects requiring national NPDES water permits.

- Require MPCA rulemaking for air, water and hazardous wastes that adopts standards more stringent than any similar federal standard to include documentation that the federal standard does not provide adequate protection for public health and the environment as well as a comparison of the proposed standard with standards in border states and the states within the Environmental Protection Agency Region 5.

House File 2, Hancock said, is authored by another freshman Republican, Rep. King Banaian, a St. Cloud State University professor. That bill calls for priority-based budgeting for state funding.

That bill would:

- Enact a priority-based biennial budget for fiscal years 2014 and 2015 that aligns state's available revenues to core state functions.

- Require a 10-year planned review, beginning in 2013, by the Office of the Legislative Auditor on the sunset of all state agencies, advisory committees, policy boards and agency functions to determine whether a public need exists for continuation.

- Holds public meetings on review to allow citizen engagement.

"Through these bills we are giving business owners more options in how they do business and by allowing the expansion of businesses to stay in Minnesota we can continue to employ and hire hard-working Minnesotans,""Hancock said.

"One thing I encourage developers and local units of government to do is to conduct soil studies, etc., as soon as they determine they'll be necessary," Howes said. "A number of contractors already do this because it helps the preliminary planning process, reduces the amount of time our agencies have to spend on their cases, and often results in faster permitting results."

Howes drops in

On another matter, Howes, chairman of the House Capital Investment Committee which will consider any public works bonding requests, said he paid a courtesy call on Gov. Mark Dayton's office.

"I gave his receptionist my card and figured they'd get back to me sometime down the road when we get in the thick of things this session," he said. "I was pleasantly surprised when they got back to me right away and set up a time to meet with me next week.

"Let's all hope this is an indication of the way things are going to work around here because communication is the key to getting positive result," he added. It will be much easier to find solutions during late-session negotiations if we're all on the same page."

Hancock: English first

Freshman Hancock has yet to author a bill, but he has co-authored 13 bills already.

The first bill he signed onto is authored by Howes and authorizes "Choose Life" state vehicle license plates, with an adoption support account established and money appropriated.

The second bill Hancock signed onto designates English as the official language of Minnesota. Authored by Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Wabasha, the bill mandate English-only state transactions, documents, meetings and proceedings and publicants. It would exempt actions necessary to comply with the Native American Languages Act and other federal laws.

Hancock has also co-authored bills to reduce the size of the Legislature, lift the ban on nuclear ppwer plants, abolish local government mandates and increase the penalty for first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

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