Dayton Orders Streamlined Permitting for Businesses

The executive order sets goals for two state agencies, including the timeframe in which it must be determined whether an environmental permit should be issued.

Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton signed an executive order on Monday that is designed to accelerate and simplify the process through which businesses receive permits from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Pollution Control Agency (PCA).

Dayton said in a statement that he and legislative leaders together recognized a need to streamline the permitting and review processes-a move that he says will support the expansion of businesses within the state and fuel job creation.

The order sets goals for the two state agencies, including the timeframe in which it must be determined whether a permit should be issued. Under the order, the agencies will have 150 days to decide whether to issue a permit after the applications are complete.

Within six months of the signing of Dayton's order, the agencies are required to submit a progress report to the governor about meeting that goal and outlining additional recommendations that could further reduce decision times.

The second goal states that, after an environmental impact statement is approved, an agency will have 30 days to issue a permit. The order also allows electronic filing of environmental review and permit applications.

“This executive order will begin those improvements immediately, while we continue to work with the Legislature to identify further improvements,” Dayton said in a news release. “It shows that we mean it when we say Minnesota will be an even better place for business success.”

The process by which Minnesota's businesses receive permits has been a key issue in the state's politics. DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr said in a statement that increasing efficiency of the state government represents “an area of broad agreement, across party lines.”

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce has supported legislation to improve the review and permitting process-including the 150-day and 30-day permitting timelines outlined in Dayton's order.

Katharine Tinucci, press secretary for Dayton's office, said in a Tuesday phone interview that the order represents “an effort to be bipartisan on our part.” She said that Dayton's order is “generally the same” as the changes outlined by legislative Republicans in their bills, but two additional features of those bills must be determined through legislation as opposed to an executive order. Those two measures proposed by Republicans include moving disputes regarding environmental reviews to the Minnesota Court of Appeals-thus bypassing the state's District Court-and also allowing entities seeking permits to conduct their own environmental impact statements, rather than requiring that state agencies complete them.