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Dayton should support reasonable legal reforms

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce was surprised to see the governor veto all four pieces of civil justice legislation.

David C. Olson

The Minnesota Chamber of Commerce shares Gov. Mark Dayton’s enthusiasm to make Minnesota a better place to create and maintain jobs. He demonstrated his commitment last year when he signed laws that streamlined the environmental review and permitting process, and implemented alternative teacher certification. He underscored his desire to work with the business community at our annual Session Priorities legislative kickoff event this year.

So we were surprised to see the governor veto all four pieces of civil justice legislation last week.

Civil justice reform is likely not top of mind for many Minnesotans, but it certainly is one of the factors that companies consider when deciding whether to locate or expand in Minnesota.

The bills would: Reduce the length of time that a lawsuit can be initiated after an event occurs from Minnesota’s nation-leading six years to four years, which is still longer than 40 states; provide incentive to receive reasonable settlement offers; ensure that courts get a class certification decision right before requiring defendants to spend time and money defending a class- action lawsuit; and provide the same prejudgment rate for businesses and individuals as government already receives.

Bipartisan support

These are not unreasonable changes to our legal system, which explains why the bills received support from both Democrats and Republicans. 

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The longer we wait to more closely align Minnesotan’s legal system with other states, the more detrimental it is to providing jobs.

The governor has a track record of independence on key issues facing our economy. Like last year, employers remain ready to work with the governor to address his concerns and pass this legislation.

David C. Olson is the president of the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce. 

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