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Opinion: Unusual ways to fix state gov’t

Gov. Dayton wants to improve state government, and he wants your ideas.

Dayton has made government reform a priority, and over the past two years has helped implement improvements like reducing the waiting time for vehicle registration from 90 days to 10 days, cutting the waiting time for some permits by over 40 percent, and making commonly used services like hunting and fishing licenses available on smartphones.

Now Dayton wants to make the next legislative session an “unsession,” in which older, inefficient ways of doing governmental business are relegated to the dustbin of history.

Here’s how Dayton describes the effort in a news release:

“The Unsession is a first-of-its-kind effort to make government better, faster, simpler and more efficient for people. We want to improve service, shorten wait times, eliminate old and outdated rules, and undo anything else that makes government nearly impossible for people to understand.”

So far, the initiative has attracted more than 650 responses from state employees (who know better than anyone the flaws in the system) and more than 200 ideas from state residents.

Here are some of the ideas:

  • “Share savings with the person who came up with the idea. To get ideas from the public that really can save money, pay a portion of the savings to the person who comes up with the idea and how to implement it. The ‘sharing of savings’ happens AFTER the state recovers the cost of implementing the idea and it is proven to work — so the money is really available to share and there are true savings to be shared.”
  • “Remove the front license plate from cars and trucks. This would cut the cost of plates in half, and renewal tabs would require only one set. How often is the front plate used for identification?”
  • “Repeal the unionization of day care providers. These day care people are self-employed businesses, not employees of anyone. Unionization is illogical, unconstitutional and just dumb.”
  • “Tax farmers more. They don’t pay fuel tax, tax on stuff for the farm, they put T plates on trucks which is nothing. They got cheap land tax. All sorts of government programs that pay them for not planting, flooding, drought, you name it they get paid for it. Farming is big business and they know the system. It is time for them to pay some more.”
  • “Before we build any more stadiums for our professional athletes to play in and for us to watch them play in, we should consider air conditioning our public schools for our children.”
  • “Sunday alcohol sales should be opened. It’s old school and ridiculous. Religion does not belong in politics or laws. We have evolved from these type of ridiculous things.”
  • “Money is inseparable from politics, and it’s important that citizens, journalists, and researchers have full accessibility to search, access, process, and download campaign finance data. The Minnesota Campaign Finance and Disclosure Board’s website is dated and incredibly difficult to search…”

There are a lot more out there. Some ideas are in-depth and comprehensive. Many are blatantly political. A few are real eye-openers, and a few others leave you scratching your head. But once you get going, it’s kind of addictive. Here’s the website: