Fed up with policies and procedure? Tell the governor

MARSHALL – Anyone have a thought, complaint, suggestion or comment about Minnesota politics?

Of course you do. And now there is another vehicle to use to let your voice be heard in St. Paul.

Legislators and lobbyists have long encouraged the voting public to call their congressman or representative to voice an opinion or speak their mind on various issues, but now Minnesota residents have another option to speak their mind.

It’s part of Gov. Mark Dayton’s “Unsession” idea – a program recently unveiled by the governor’s office and one Dayton wants to act on during the 2014 session.

In an email sent to more than 30,000 state employees, Dayton wrote the “Unsession” will focus on eliminating excessive or redundant laws, rules and regulations and “getting rid of anything else that makes government nearly impossible for people to understand.

The email tells state employees to “send a big idea that could revolutionize how your department operates or a commonsense change that would eliminate a headache for the Minnesotans you serve.”

With that said, Dayton is inviting the general public to send in an “Unsession suggestion.”

The governor’s office put “Unsession” suggestion boxes at this year’s Minnesota State Fair, along with sending out the email to state employees to get their take on state politics and what needs to be improved.

So far, nearly 630 ideas have been submitted by state employees and another 230-plus from the general public. In all, more than 1,000 ideas have been submitted. There is also an online “Unsession” suggestion tool – unsessionsuggestion.ideascale.com/ – where the public is encouraged to enter ideas and comment on the ideas of others.

The site will be open until mid-September.

“It’s for people who’ve got an idea, or if there’s something bothering them,” said Matt Swenson, Dayton’s press secretary. “Back in the ’90s when 7-Up was competing with Coke and Pepsi as the ‘Un-cola,’ the governor had the idea that if elected governor he wanted to have one session called the ‘Unsession.’ It doesn’t focus on new laws and regulations, it focuses on what is already on the books, which laws are outdated. It’s for change and reform to state government to make it work better, faster and smarter.”

Swenson said Dayton’s office will vet all suggestions that pertain to state government – a process that has already begun.

“There was one that said that in Colorado you can go into the DMV and apply for a new driver’s license and they print it on the spot and you walk out with a license,” he said. “Here, it takes a number of weeks. Why can’t we change that?”

Of course, implementing changes to current state permitting, rules and regulations doesn’t happen overnight, but Swenson said the “Unsession” idea is a way for Minnesotans to let state officials know of areas they think need to be addressed. It’s being regarded as a way the public can take part in government reform.

“What better way to find out than to ask Minnesotans?” Swenson said. “We’re trying to find ways to make government work faster and save money.”

Swenson said the 2014 session, which will focus on bonding and policy, is the perfect time to put the “Unsession” idea to the test even though compared to other sessions, next year’s session will be a short one.

“It’s right in the wheelhouse of what the Legislature would typically deal with (next year) anyway,” he said.