‘Unsession’ is great; let’s keep culling laws

Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton’s administration is touting its plan for an “unsession” for state lawmakers this year. The idea is to scour state statutes and get rid of outdated and silly laws. Great idea. We hope legislators will cooperate. And we hope both the governor’s office and lawmakers learn something from the effort.

Consider, for example, an old law that says it is illegal to sell fruit from the “wrong-sized” container. Imagine when the law was created and how some bureaucrat, expert or fruit salesman worked hard to put it in place. Someone gained something from this law, whether it was a job in state government or an edge over a competitor. But no citizen of Minnesota ever gained anything from it. Rather, they had to pay for the bureaucrat and the harm done to competition in the marketplace.

So, now, it’s easy to look back and say, “Oh, what a dumb law.” But how many other laws on the books today are still being enforced and are just as dumb, but still have the backing of someone who wants to hang on to their job in government, or who wants to keep a competitor down?

Minnesota – and every other state, for that matter – shouldn’t just eliminate state statutes that can be viewed as silly and quaint because they are from another era. States should consider how people in the future are going to view the stupid crap we have on the books in our era. And then scrap those laws too.