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Minnesota Legislature: House launches government redesign hotline, Web site

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news Bemidji, 56619

Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

ST. PAUL -- Minnesotans have a new chance to tell legislators how they would like to see government operate.

"How can we provide better services and better results at a better price?" Rep. Paul Marquart said is the question being asked of the public.

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Marquart, DFL-Dilworth, announced Monday the formation of a state government redesign caucus, with both Democrats and Republicans involved.

"This is a start," Marquart said.

He had no blueprint of how a newly designed government would look or how much money it could save. He did, however, say that eliminating states jobs is not in his plan at this point.

The concept is patterned after a process he instituted three years ago as chairman of the House committee dealing with property taxes. At that time, he asked for public input on how to better handle the taxes, and received hundreds of replies. The best suggestions were sent to the House floor, and one passed.

Marquart on Monday said he plans to turn the six best redesign ideas into bills that lawmakers will consider this year.

"We need to be the Henry Fords and Thomas Edisons of state government," he said.

Lawmakers said that some redesign bills already are progressing, such as those:

- Requiring cooperation among school districts, including sharing services and making joint purchases.

- Removing obstacles that prevent various governmental entities from working together.

- Making changes in health-care programs to make it easier for the public to understand and enroll.

The Marquart plan would bring legislators interested in new government design together in a caucus so they can become advocates and coordinators of the effort.

House Speaker Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis, said she expects results from the Marquart group, which includes Republican co-chairmen Dean Urdahl of Grove City and Carol McFarlane of White Bear Lake.

The speaker urged government employees to participate in the effort.

"When you don't engage employees, then there is resistance," she said.

To suggest something to improve government: Call 651-297-8391 or 800-551-5520 or visit the Web site www.house.mn/redesign.

Don Davis works for Forum Communications Co., which owns the Bemidji Pioneer.

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