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.


Supreme Court’s EPA ruling: Crippling, but not yet decapitating

By: - July 7, 2022

Gut-wrenching, but not soul-crushing. Crippling, but not decapitating. Disturbing, but not lachrymose. This is the general consensus of the Supreme Court’s blow against the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to quickly and efficiently curtail greenhouse-gas emissions in West Virginia v. EPA. It’s also the general consensus of the court’s latest salvo against federal administrative regulations.  Making […]


Another thing that makes us better than Wisconsin: rulemaking | Opinion

By: - May 5, 2022

Minnesota and its neighbor to the east are often compared. Whether politics, the economy, sports, or beer, residents of both states enjoy the competition.  But for one such comparison, we can find a clear winner. If you were thinking about the administrative rulemaking process: good guess. With its voluminous regulations, rulemaking can epitomize government overreach […]


How to solve the rent control controversy: A heap of legalese | Opinion

By: - April 11, 2022

The city of St. Paul is proposing rules in an attempt to clarify its voter-approved rent control ordinance. The ordinance — already subject to inflamed tensions — surely merits a healthy dose of legalese embedded in the proposed rules, which are open to public comment from April 7 through April 22. And the rules sure […]


Supreme Court conservatives turned off textualism to toss out vaccine mandate | Opinion

By: and - February 1, 2022

Most analysts of the U.S. Supreme Court’s January 13 decision striking down the Biden administration’s vaccine mandate for employers with 100 or more employees — while upholding it for health care workers at facilities receiving federal funds — have focused on the factual analysis and legal reasoning of the six conservative justices that comprise a […]


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 […]


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 […]


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 […]


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, […]