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Author Archives: Margaret Martin

Getting to no

I took an international relations class in college where one of the required texts was “Getting to Yes,” the classic (and mercifully short) book that was a product of the Harvard Negotiation project by professors William Ury and Roger Fisher. The book was instructive for negotiation scenarios where there were two sides and two powers in a bi-polar system. The advice it gives is generally along the lines of trying to create an outcome where both sides “win” if possible. This involves getting beyond personalities and ideologies and going straight to the most important and most immediate interests of the people sitting at the table.

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Inside the government shutdown

As an employee of the Legislature, I was one of those who got to experience the lockdown of the State Office Building, affectionately known as “the SOB.” As inconvenient and exasperating as it was for people who wanted access to the Capitol complex, it was just plain weird for those of us used to the normal activity of the place, even between sessions.

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When government is part of the problem: the sequel

Last year I wrote about an exchange in the 2010 session between now retired Rep. Larry Haws, DFL-St. Cloud, and Rep. Mark Buesgens, R-Jordan. Haws sponsored legislation to allow students to transfer credits between MNSCU campuses; Buesgens was incensed that it took an act of the Legislature to do something so common-sensical.

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The shutdown: A test of our institutions

As a state government shutdown looms, some important tests lie ahead for the three branches of government in Minnesota. While the news media is focused on the human interest stories (the workers who may be furloughed, the people who may lose services), there is another story that will play out simultaneously. New precedents will be set, and new interpretations will be applied to the limits of state government and of the state Constitution.

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Local government dependency: It’s about more than just LGA

I live in one of the neighborhoods ravaged by the recent tornado. Every day last week, we woke up to the sound of chain saws and wood chippers as cleanup began. My spouse went outside to thank the workers and got a lecture from a city employee, who told him that he was watching his local government aid at work and that it was a good thing that Mark Dayton was governor, because “if it were up to the Republicans,” he’d be out of a job already.

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Freshman initiation

The cycle of partisan conflict and competition is heating up at the Minnesota Legislature. The unveiling of budget targets and bills represents the moment at which a combination of reform and reduction will fundamentally reorient our state government and our state. The goal is to reposition Minnesota both to succeed when the economy does, and to not get left behind.

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What makes the Legislature run?

When the public thinks of the Legislature, they naturally think of the 201 people who have run for election and won a seat in the House or Senate. In essence, legislators make up the board of directors of the largest economic force in the state - state government.

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