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PCI and NPCC are collaborating with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) to promote the use of conflict resolution and consensus building in legislative work. We are especially interested in identifying state legislators that would like to use the interim period between sessions to work toward consensus on difficult, high priority issues.
With support from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, NCSL and PCI are offering consultations with legislatures and conducting workshops on ways to use deliberative processes with citizens. The consultations and workshops also focus on how to hold meaningful consensus-building meetings to address complex and politically charged issues.
NCSL's Legislative Staff Management Institute is also working to address the barriers between legislators and citizens. The Institute helps senior level staff managers to develop their abilities in dispute resolution and conflict management, management of the legislative process, leadership, policy analysis, strategic planning, and use of information systems.
Legislators and citizens both say they want a stronger connection, but a number of barriers are standing in the way. One of these barriers is time. Legislators often are heavily booked during the session, and have many things competing for their attention. Another challenge is simply knowing exactly how to connect legislators and citizens in a meaningful way.
The good news is that some legislators are addressing these challenges with innovative activities that involve citizens.
State public policy dispute resolution programs are invited to a day-long workshop focused on how DR programs can persevere and even grow during difficult financial times. The PCI- and NPCC-sponsored workshop will be held Thursday, May 20—the day preceding ACR's Environment/Public Policy Conference on May 21 and 22.
The workshop will cover three important topical areas:
As many state programs face uncertain futures and drastic budget cuts, this workshop offers a unique opportunity to explore ways to employ issue-focused strategies and new approaches to advancing the use of collaboration. (See the January 2004 E-News for a feature on the Florida Conflict Resolution Consortium's approach to transportation issues).
Download the Registration Form to register for the Workshop.
PCI is offering travel assistance of up to $800 for any state DR program interested in initiating issue-focused strategies attending the workshop. To receive assistance, programs must first identify the issue(s) they are considering for such a strategy. Once they have identified the issues, PCI will consult with them prior to the May 20 meeting about information they will need to gather in preparation for the workshop.
If your state is interested in applying for assistance, please download and submit the travel assistance form no later than the close of business April 1, 2004.
We encourage participants to stay for the ACR Environment and Public Policy Conference, which focuses on Challenges and Strategies for Environmental and Public Policy Conflict Resolution . John Kitzhaber, former Oregon Governor and PCI/NPCC Board Co-Chair, will be the keynote speaker. Kitzhaber is known for his innovative use of consensus building and leadership on environmental, health care, and other public policy challenges. Visit their Conference website for more information.
What capacity exists in states—both within government and at the community level—to effectively engage in collaborative problem solving?
What is needed to advance this work?
Answering these questions, among others, was the aim of a six-month assessment of seven northeast states by the National Policy Consensus Center. The assessment was conducted under a newly created program called State Solutions, an initiative modeled after the flourishing Oregon Solutions program. Oregon Solutions helps develop sustainable solutions to community-based problems that support economic, environmental, and community objectives, and are built via collaborative efforts of businesses, government, and non-profit organizations.
State Solutions is working to apply best practices and lessons learned from Oregon Solutions projects, and adapt and apply them in other states. In the NPCC seven-state assessment, Abby White, former manager of Oregon Solutions, and Lang Marsh, NPCC Fellow and former Director of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality , met with more than 100 leaders throughout the northeast. White and Marsh talked with Governors' staffs, nonprofit directors, university professors, foundation program directors, and directors of state dispute resolution programs.
For the past two years, New Mexico's Regulation and Licensing Department—which regulates 39 professions and involves 34 professional licensing and enforcement boards—has been using mediation as an alternative to formal administrative hearings. The licensing boards refer disciplinary matters to mediation, and while not all boards are using mediation, more and more are trying it. Since 2001, 36 disputes have been referred to the Department's ADR Services.
The Department's disciplinary proceedings typically result in suspension or revocation of a business license, and/or fines if the licensee is found to be at fault. In mediated cases, written agreements have been reached 100 percent of the time, with many of the agreements resulting in remediation to the consumer. This is a rare outcome for such disputes, because statutes typically provide only for suspension or revocation of the license and/or fines if the matter goes to hearing.
The Department uses internal and external volunteer mediators who work in pairs. Each mediator receives 40 hours of basic mediation training as well as opportunities to apprentice under more experienced mediators.
According to Administrative Law Judge and ADR Counsel Bill Davis, “The Department has saved tens of thousands of dollars in litigation costs,” and he estimates they could save $300,000 annually if 100 percent of these kinds of disputes were mediated.
For more information on New Mexico 's approach, contact Bill Davis at the New Mexico Regulation and Licensing Department in Santa Fe (505-827-7076).
PCI and NPCC's on-line directories of state dispute resolution programs, including environmental dispute resolution programs, have recently been updated to include the latest program and personnel changes in DR initiatives across the country. This continuously revised resource is the most comprehensive listing of dispute resolution activities at the state level.
To review dispute resolution programs in your state, visit State Directories on this website. If you know of changes or additional information that should be included in the Directories, please contact PCI.In 1997, when PCI began tracking dispute resolution programs throughout the United States, there were about 30 programs offering DR services and research. Today, the State Directory lists more than 165 programs, and the Environmental DR Directory in includes 49—located across state government in the administrative branch, courts, universities, and non-profit organizations.
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