Author

Ian Lewenstein

Ian Lewenstein

Ian Lewenstein has worked for the Minnesota Legislature and several state agencies. He specializes in administrative rulemaking and plain language. His comments represent his views alone.

COMMENTARY

Thou shalt not shall: The problem of an overused word — Column

By: - August 23, 2021

Returning from recess Monday,  the U.S. House will be greeted by historic legislation: The Senate’s $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill, as well as the reconciliation budget resolution for the Democrats’ $3.5 trillion in social and other spending. To pass both pieces of legislation, Democratic House members must balance internal divisions. But first they should heavily amend […]

COMMENTARY

In defense of the bureaucracy | Opinion

By: - June 2, 2021

Thirty years ago, my dad missed a very important turn. Driving my mother to the hospital, and perhaps owing to the end-of-May legislative session, he was fatigued and dwelling on last-minute legislative work for his state agency. Fortunately, the missed turn did not preclude a healthy baby boy from being born, a “session baby.” So […]

COMMENTARY

We need plain language in our justice system, especially jury instructions | Opinion

By: - April 21, 2021

With so much focus on the justice system this week, now is an opportune time to review how using plain language — or neglecting it — can have real-world consequences, especially when it comes to jury instructions. Because the justice system serves the public, courts must ensure that the public can understand and follow court […]

COMMENTARY

Lawmakers ignore grammar and punctuation at their own peril

By: - April 9, 2021

Because grammar and punctuation affect meaning — as two court cases recently reaffirmed — unintended and long-term ramifications can result if lawmakers neglect to scrutinize every word and comma.  So while lawmakers may relegate grammar nerds and punctuation hawks to the bleachers when it comes to legal drafting, they may want to rethink doing so, […]