Permitting Reform — My View: Permit Reform Bill a Good Start

Story originally published in The Mankato Free Press.

It’s good to see a strong effort to reform Minnesota’s regulatory environment in St. Paul. When business, industry, labor unions, farmers, and environmental groups come together to improve the permitting process, it deserves to be celebrated. That is exactly what we saw recently in the Minnesota Senate.

A key policy priority for Greater Mankato Growth is to improve the regulatory environment in Minnesota. Excessive regulation constrains the economic growth of our state. We support reforms that streamline regulations while maintaining appropriate regulations necessary to keep workers, consumers, and our environment safe and healthy.

Sen. Nick Frentz, DFL-North Mankato, authored a much-needed permitting streamlining bill this year — SF4784. As originally crafted, his bill sought to provide a streamlined path for our state to meet clean energy goals established a year ago of 100% carbon-free electric generation by 2040. Recent studies have shown that Minnesota has become a challenging place to get projects permitted, and this includes those projects specifically designed to support a cleaner environment.

During the committee process, a unanimous bipartisan effort amended this bill to apply the principles of “regulatory humility” to every good project in our state, not just those related to clean energy projects. Some of the provisions added to the bill include:

  • Early communication — requires state agencies to establish an expeditious process for permit applicants.
  • Plan preparation — within 60 days a state agency must prepare a coordinated project plan with the applicant and other state agencies.
  • Plan contents — a coordinated project plan must include a list of all state agencies needed for review of the project, a schedule for any public hearings, and a comprehensive schedule of deadlines.
  • Required deadlines — establishes an expeditious review timeline that cannot exceed 18 months for environmental assessment worksheets, and 4 years for an environmental impact statement.
  • Deadline compliance — state agencies must provide a written justification if they are unable to meet required deadlines.
    Each of these provisions improves transparency, timeliness, and certainty for applicants. This is especially important for businesses as they make decisions about how, where, and when to deploy capital.


These reforms will be critical to support good projects our state is seeking to attract. This bill, authored by our Sen. Frentz, now makes real changes that will have real-world positive effects (if signed into law) for supporting the kinds of good projects we have seen leave Minnesota in recent years.

At a time in our politics where there is so much contention, it is truly heart-warming to see good public policy move through the process like the regulatory reform bill that is currently moving.

Will it be the end-all-be-all for making Minnesota the most efficient place to permit a business? Probably not. Can more be done? Of course. We can’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. Reforms like these which have the support of such a diverse group of stakeholders is certainly a good start.

The next step is for the Minnesota House to act favorably on this bill and send it to Gov. Tim Walz’s desk.

Andy Wilke is Executive Vice President of Greater Mankato Growth.

View the original article here.