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Minnesota Govt Shuts Down, Will We-Govt Fill the Gap?

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, July 1 2011

The Minnesota state government has shut down due to the collapse of efforts to reach a budget deal, and all kinds of state services are closing, including highway rest-stops, highway and bridge construction programs, funding for special education programs and safe houses for domestic violence victims. 23,000 state employees have been laid off. Monitoring of beaches by the state health department for high E. Coli levels has also been halted, according to the Democratic-leaning Alliance For a Better Minnesota's protest site, ShutdownShame.org. (The Huffington Post has a nice live-blog of the unfolding story, and the folks at TheUptake.org, who specialize in live-blogging crises over there, have great coverage as well..) But online, there's a kind of ghostly continuation of business as usual mixed with a few jolting surprises:

  • The state's official home page is up and says nothing about the shutdown as of 11:38 ET.
  • The Minnesota state Senate and House websites are still up and running.
  • You can still download forms from the state's licensing division, so if you're looking to apply for a license to be, say, a "body art technician" the forms are there.
  • The website for the Minnesota State Lottery is on top of the news, interestingly enough, with a splash page that says "DUE TO THE CURRENT GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN, THE MINNESOTA STATE LOTTERY IS CLOSED AND THIS WEBSITE IS NOT BEING MAINTAINED. No Lottery tickets may be sold or winning tickets redeemed until further notice."
  • More seriously, the state Management and Budget office has a streamlined site up called "BeReadyMN.com" which has some useful information for the public about state services during the shutdown.

One thing that will surely be interesting to monitor as the crisis plays out and more government employees are sent home--will citizens and voluntary organizations step into the gap? Will the Minnesota state shutdown be a moment for "we-government" to rise?