STATE LEGISLATURES MAGAZINE
NCSL Staff Share Expertise
“What we’re seeing, four-and-a-half years after the end of the Great Recession, is that the recovery of state budgets remains a work in progress.”
—Todd Haggerty, NCSL policy specialist, on KJZZ Radio in Phoenix
“There is a move away from enforcement measures to measures that support immigrants, such as in-state tuition and driver’s licenses.”
— Ann Morse, NCSL immigration policy project director, in WSJ
“Surpluses are a very tricky term.”
—Arturo Pérez, NCSL budget expert, in the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on why some states show budget surpluses while others still have deficits
“Minimum wage is a cyclical issue for the states. When the federal minimum wage hasn’t been increased for several years, then the states start looking at it.”
—Jeanne Mejeur, NCSL expert on state labor and employment issues, on NPR
NCSL Executive Committee in Austin
The Maestro at Work
President Lyndon Johnson may have been the greatest political arm twister ever to inhabit the Oval Office. Last month, attendees at NCSL’s Executive Committee dinner meeting in Austin got a first-hand account of his skill.
Ben Barnes, former Texas House speaker, recalled the time he was in Illinois Senator Everett Dirksen’s office when Dirksen announced they’d been invited to the White House for a drink.
In the Oval Office, after a scotch—Barnes suspected Johnson had the bartender serve his guests an extra shot—Johnson mentioned he needed three Senate GOP votes to pass a tax bill. Dirksen told Johnson there was no way.
Johnson ordered more scotch. Then the president remembered an Army Corps of Engineers general had told him that a dam Dirksen wanted built in Illinois would not be funded that year. Johnson let that sink in and ordered more scotch.
After the third glass, Dirksen allowed that maybe he could get three votes if Johnson could find a way to get that dam built. The president and Senate minority leader then shared a bear hug, and the deal was done. It was an instructive tale that was not lost on the room full of lawmakers and legislative staff.
Senator Rodney Ellis:
“Great ride in Austin with @NCSLorg members from across the country. Thanks to @BikeTexas for their help!”
BikeTexas provided bikes and staff for a ride sponsored by Senator Rodney Ellis and Representative Linda Harper-Brown at January’s NCSL Executive Committee meeting in Austin.
Coming Soon to a State Near You
NCSL’s state liaisons were on the ground in Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, Oregon, Utah and Wyoming in recent weeks. These NCSL representatives answered questions and updated lawmakers and staff on what’s new at NCSL, including Web tools, databases, webinars and other resources in the Denver and Washington, D.C., offices. Want to know who your state liaison is? Visit www.ncsl.org and type “state liaisons” in the search box.
A Capitol Snow Day!
It’s not often the Oregon Legislative Assembly shuts down due to weather, but it happened Feb. 6, when snow and freezing temperatures socked the western part of the state. “All committees & floor sessions cancelled for Friday at the Oregon Capitol,” NCSL President and Oregon Senator Bruce Starr e-mailed friends across the country. “A very rare snow event has hit western Oregon—3 to 4 inches of snow at my house, 2 to 4 more predicted for tonight. All schools released kids early yesterday and closed today. I know for you all this is not big new, but for us—this rarely happens. Have a great Friday!”