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PCI Publishes Report on Changing Role of Legislators

Policy Consensus Initiative’s newest report paints a picture of the changing roles legislators are playing to enable them to work more effectively in the current polarized political environment. Legislators at a Crossroads: Making Choice to Work Differently, describes how some legislators have learned to use the power of their elected office to act as conveners, bringing all sectors to the table to find solutions to public problems that go beyond what any one sector could achieve on its own. In the course of working with state leaders over the past few years, PCI has gleaned their insights and ideas about what legislators need to know in order to play this convening role. An elected leader’s authority to convene is based on the office, not the person. Generally, when an elected official or a respected leader convenes a meeting, people from across the spectrum are willing to come. But to keep them there, and keep them participating, people must believe that the leader is not predisposed to one side or another and is trying to find a solution that all sides can embrace. Convening does require a different way of interacting with the public. It is different from telling citizens what the solution is or talking to them about what needs to be done. It is different from chairing a committee or leading a meeting to gather “input.” Rather than making decisions for people, legislators who act as conveners get people involved in finding effective solutions together and taking action themselves. Often this requires leaders to hone new skills.To download the report, go to www.policyconsensus.org/publications/reports/docs/Crossroads.pdf.

Amy Lang
Amy Lang is a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions at the University of British Columbia. She wrote her dissertation on British Columbia’s groundbreaking Citizens’ Assembly process, and is currently doing follow-up research on the Ontario Citizens’ Assembly.

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