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Pioneer Editorial: Smoother permitting a good start

Hopefully a harbinger of positive work ahead, Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday issued an executive order to two state agencies to speed up permit requests from businesses at the same time the Republican-led Legislature is considering legislation to do the same thing.

Under Executive Order 11-04, the state Department of Natural Resources and the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency are instructed to "move at the speed of commerce" by accelerating and simplifying their environmental review and permitting processes. It's also the same goal as H.F. 1, the Republican cornerstone bill to help recruit and retain businesses in Minnesota, with the motive of turning around the state's economy.

Gov. Dayton's order would establish a goal for the DNR and MPCA to decide within 150 days after the agency determines that an environmental or natural resource permit applications is complete, whether to issue the permit. And the commissioners of the two agencies are to decide within 30 days after an environmental impact statement is finally approved whether to issue the permit.

That should be good news to businesses which seek to expand but have been held up 600 days or more in seeking a permit to construct.

"I am pleased that legislative leaders and I agree on the need to streamline permitting processes and shorten review timelines in order to support businesses expanding and creating new jobs," said Gov. Dayton. "MPCA Commissioner Aasen and DNR Commissioner Landwehr deserve great credit for swiftly mobilizing their agencies to respond more quickly to business needs, while at the same time protecting our citizens and our environment."

The Republican-led legislation will put into law what Democratic Gov. Dayton has in his executive order. Both Republican leaders and the governor, in a pre-session meeting, agreed this was something they could agree upon and move quickly on.

It shows that there can be a spirit of bipartisanship to move Minnesota forward. Let's hope that feeling lingers and expands to other state problems seeking a solution, such as how to fill the state's $6.2 billion budget gap.