Newspaper article

Mediation Bill Offers a Real Way to Work through Conflicts

Newspaper article

Mediation Bill Offers a Real Way to Work through Conflicts

Article excerpt

It seems, maybe, for all we complain about it, we all love conflict.

Republicans and Democrats tearing at each other over sequestration, same-sex marriage, gun rights, taxes -- even the first lady's appearance at the Oscars -- we can't agree on anything.

While it's to be expected, it's not good for us. Not as a country, a state or a society.

Overlooked on Monday while the media chased down conflict, a group gathered to promote legislation that seeks to eliminate much of what gums up our system and makes compromise so rare.

I, along with many of my colleagues, introduced a bill that would support peaceful and lasting resolution to conflicts on issues ranging from child-custody legislation to intergovernmental disputes. This legislation creates an Office of Collaboration and Dispute Resolution, which would be housed at the Bureau of Mediation Services, and would work to support peaceful, efficient and lasting resolutions to conflicts.

Hibbing water shortage

You need only go back a few days in the pages of the Star Tribune to see the importance of this resolution. My hometown of Hibbing is confronting something most of us who live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes would have thought unthinkable: a water shortage. The water we all use comes from deep aquifers, and demands have increased faster than replenishment.

Hibbing claims that Hibbing Taconite's mining efforts are causing water shortages in the area. The city has asked the Department of Natural Resources to get involved with negotiations with the company.

More complaints of this nature are likely in the future. Ethanol plants, farmers and people who live near these big users of water need to find answers, and they can't count on the state DNR to pick a winner in these disputes.

These are not win-lose scenarios; they have to be win-win.

Uses community mediation

I authored this bill because I believe that individuals of all ages and backgrounds can resolve their own disputes -- effectively, inexpensively and peacefully. …

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