Dayton signs Minn. business permit bill into law

Published 5:47 am Friday, March 4, 2011

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Gov. Mark Dayton signed a new law Thursday designed to accelerate environmental reviews and business permits, brushing off objections from Democrats and environmental groups and handing Republicans who run the Legislature one of their signature job initiatives.

The Democratic governor said he shares their desire to improve Minnesota’s business climate and job market.

“We agree that too many possible business expansions have been delayed unnecessarily in recent years,” Dayton said in a letter to the bill’s sponsors, Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, and Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau.

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The law sets a goal of 150 days for the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and Department of Natural Resources to rule on permit applications. It would allow businesses to commission or write their own initial draft environmental reviews, which could save government agencies time and expense but has also raised concerns about conflicts of interest. Appeals of permit decisions would go directly to the state Court of Appeals instead working their way through district courts.

Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, R-Buffalo, said regulatory reform was key to improving the state’s economy and praised Dayton for supporting it.