New Law Moves Toward Faster Business Permitting

Dayton signs bill

A second step in speeding up state-issued permits to businesses looking to expand or build in the state became law Monday.

“This is a very rewarding moment,” Gov. Mark Dayton said minutes after signing the bill that he and Republican lawmakers say will help Minnesota’s business climate.

The law builds on one enacted a year ago to set a 150-day goal for the Department of Natural Resources and Pollution Control Agency to issue construction permits. Those agencies must issue permits before many business projects may continue.

The new law allows businesses to hire their own permit manager, instead of relying on the state to do that work. It also allows businesses “to get their questions answered in a more timely fashion,” bill author Sen. Bill Ingebrigtsen, R-Alexandria, said.

House author Rep. Dan Fabian, R-Roseau, said governments wanting to do projects such as building roads also should get faster action.

Natural Resources Commissioner Tom Landwehr said the law does not affect the eventual outcome of permit applications, just speeds things along.

Also in the law is a provision that extends feedlot permits to 10 years; they now last five years. About 1,000 feedlots have permits.

The law establishes a pilot streamlined environmental program for Magnetation, which is requesting permits to build a new iron ore concentrate plant on the Iron Range.

Another part of the bill allows wood to be a cellulosic biofuel.

State officials could not give an estimate about how many permits would be affected by the new law.

“Certainly not every one, every day,” Pollution Control Commissioner Paul Aasen said.

“This legislation brings the state’s regulatory process into the 21st century while still ensuring that our environment is protected for future generations,” said President David Olson of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce.