“Minnesota ‘unsession’ dumps 1,175 obsolete, silly laws”

by Walter Olson on May 28, 2014

Wow, more of this please [St. Paul Pioneer Press]:

It’s no longer a crime in Minnesota to carry fruit in an illegally sized container. The state’s telegraph regulations are gone. And it’s now legal to drive a car in neutral — if you can figure out how to do it.

Those were among the 1,175 obsolete, unnecessary and incomprehensible laws that Gov. Mark Dayton and the Legislature repealed this year as part of the governor’s “unsession” initiative. His goal was to make state government work better, faster and smarter….

In addition to getting rid of outdated laws, the project made taxes simpler, cut bureaucratic red tape, speeded up business permits and required state agencies to communicate in plain language.

If lawmakers in Minnesota could identify 1,175 worthless or outdated laws that could be rooted out with little real political resistance, imagine how many other worthless or outdated laws there are that are not so easy to uproot because they work to the benefit of one group or other (cross-posted from Cato at Liberty).

More: list of laws.

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An Unsession » Right Thinking
05.28.14 at 11:10 pm

{ 5 comments }

1 tim 05.28.14 at 12:27 pm

And this from a Governor and legislature firmly in the hands of the Democrats (DFL).

How many laws have the Republicans in Wisconsin repealed since taking control?

2 John Burgess 05.28.14 at 12:40 pm

There oughta be a law…

That requires the repeal of two old laws for every new law passed.

That requires the decommissioning of two federal agencies and bureaus for ever new one launched.

That requires an appraisal — at least ever five years — on whether an agency or bureau has reached its initial goals and can now be shut down.

[There must be something in the water today.]

3 VMS 05.28.14 at 11:23 pm

There is good reason to prohibit driving a car in neutral, since it is a very dangerous practice known as freewheeling. Normally in a manual transmission, the engine is locked to the gear train through the gearbox and the clutch so that when one takes his foot off the accelerator, there is some engine braking. Lack of engine braking when driving in mountainous areas has caused many accidents by excessive brake heating and failure. For this reason, some manufacturers (Saab in particular) gave up putting freewheel or overrunning clutches in their cars. Also, laws prohibiting overrunnig clutches or “driving in neutral” became popular in many states. An overrunning clutch allows the engine to transmit torque to the drive-train in one direction only. The rear wheel of a bicycle has an overrunning clutch.

4 Cloudesley Shovell 05.29.14 at 7:14 am

VMS–I have no reason to doubt that everything you say is true. But this is Minnesota. The vast majority of the state is utterly flat. I defy you to find a section of road anywhere in Minnesota that is both long enough and steep enough to lead to the horror of brake overheating and failure that you suggest is the basis for the “no coasting in neutral” law.

The list of things people can do that are dangerous and could lead to injury or death is endless. Human stupidity is a bottomless well than never runs dry. That doesn’t mean that a legislature should counter with an endless list of pointless laws. Such efforts are folly.

Kind regards,
CS

5 Ron Miller 05.29.14 at 9:57 am

“And this from a Governor and legislature firmly in the hands of the Democrats (DFL). How many laws have the Republicans in Wisconsin repealed since taking control?”

These is nothing wrong with getting rid of laws about the size of fruit containers. It is all good, I suppose. But let’s not pretend this is actually accomplishing something. It sends a message and it is probably a good one. But let’s goad states into racing to these form over substance legislative acts.

VMS’s point is important. Some laws seem dumb on their face actually have a decent logical foundation behind them if you actually knew the rationale for the law in the first place. That crazy probably outdated fruit container law? They probably made it for a good reason at the time that we cannot contemplate.

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