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There Oughtn't to Be a Law
Minnesota Repeals 1,175 Laws—Order Miraculously Preserved

In what they called an “unsession,” the Minnesota state legislature and Governor Mark Dayton repealed 1,175 state laws in one fell swoop. The Gopher State did away with laws and regulations dealing with everything from the telegraph to bug deflectors to fruit containers. Per

It’s no longer a crime in Minnesota to carry fruit in an illegally sized container. The state’s telegraph regulations are gone. And it’s now legal to drive a car in neutral—if you can figure out how to do it…

Those were among the 1,175 obsolete, unnecessary and incomprehensible laws that Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature repealed this year as part of the governor’s “unsession” initiative. His goal was to make state government work better, faster and smarter.

The reform was not limited to repealing the stuff of “Believe It or Not” lists. The Minnesota legislature also worked to simplify the way the state interacts with its citizens:

A $447 million tax cut bill that Dayton signed in March not only provided income tax relief but also simplified filing returns by making state tax law conform to changes in the federal tax code. Those revisions “made tax forms easier to understand and less time-consuming to prepare” for more than 1 million Minnesota taxpayers, the governor said. […]

Legislators launched an initiative that got rid of more than 30 advisory boards, councils and task forces that had outlived their usefulness. […]

Most of the new laws were passed with strong bipartisan support, [Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board commissioner Tony] Sertich said, “We all agree government should work better.”

We’d like to second that remark. Simplifying the law helps protect individual liberties, fosters commerce, and promotes efficiency in government.

The U.S. Code alone—not to mention the body of law in whatever state, county, or city you happen to live in—already runs up to 22 million words, all of which you are responsible for following. If you run a new or small business, the costs of compliance can be crushing. And there are important civil liberties arguments for making sure government is lean and wields a light touch as well.

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  • foobarista

    Good luck with getting rid of those boards. They’re wonderful parking places for ex-politicos. California – in particular – has zillions of these. They come complete with an awesome workload of a few meetings a year and often six-figure incomes for members, as well as staffs that can be populated with relatives. A termed-out politico can get on a couple of these and make a wonderfully good living for themselves and family.

  • Dan

    Good for MN!!

    I am curious as to what could have possibly prompted someone to suggest to a member of the legislature to propose, draft and sponsor a bill which they then had their colleagues vote on to make into law a statute that dealt with carrying fruit in an “illegally sized container” (whatever that is), who was willing to put their name on this law? why? who was the lobby behind this proposal? ziploc?

  • qet

    This is very encouraging, especially as the Governor is a Democrat and the legislature is controlled by Democrats (I think).

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