Greetings, colleagues and friends! The 2010-2011 NCSL conference year is off to a great start. Since the Legislative Summit in Louisville, five staff sections held professional development seminars, another major cross-staff section webinar took place, and numerous other smaller scale activities have occurred.
One of my primary responsibilities this year is to chair the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee (LSCC). For those unfamiliar with LSCC, it consists of the NCSL staff chair, vice chair, and immediate past chair, the 16 at-large legislative staff members of the NCSL Executive Committee, the two top officers of each staff section, the overall standing committee officers, and four discretionary appointees of the staff chair. The purposes of LSCC are “to oversee the legislative staff division of NCSL, to coordinate the work of the ten staff sections of NCSL, to promote professional development of legislative staff, and to review and evaluate NCSL services to legislative staff. LSCC serves in an advisory capacity to the NCSL Executive Committee.”
The Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee (LSCC) held its first meeting of the year October 15-16 in Denver. LSCC normally meets in conjunction with the NCSL Executive Committee, but they eliminated their fall meeting this year. LSCC still needed to meet, so this became an opportunity to have a little more time and focus on legislative staff concerns. NCSL hosted us at its office on Friday, including a lunch cookout with staff. This provided a first opportunity for some to visit the office and connect with the work there; it also allowed more NCSL staff than usual to participate in our discussions. The meeting concluded Saturday noon at our hotel.
LSSS is represented on LSCC this year by:
Nancy Cyr – Immediate Past NCSL Staff Chair;
Julie Pelegrin – Third-year member of the NCSL Executive Committee and chair of the Strengthening Legislative Staff Work Group;
Peggy Piety – Third-year member of the Executive Committee and chair of the Outreach Work Group;
John Bjornson – second-year member of Executive Committee and vice chair of the Professional Development Work Group;
Jeff Wice – first-year member of Executive Committee;
Debbie Haskins – Chair of LSSS;
Roger Norman – Vice chair of LSSS;
Raul Burciaga – Overall staff vice chair of standing committees.
The focus of this year’s LSCC is meeting the challenges facing the legislative institution and its staff with concrete, practical tools and solutions. Four work groups will address specific areas:
Professional Development – Overseeing the various tools being used in this area, from professional development seminars to webinars and other distance-learning technologies to the Legislative Staff Management Institute; developing the Legislative Staff University concept introduced last year; and considering ways to address the professional development needs of senior legislative staff managers.
Outreach – Continuing the outreach to personal and district office staff around the country; working with the Trust for Representative Democracy on the “Project Citizen: The Legislative Staff Connection” pilot project; and working to support and maximize use of statehouse ambassadors.
Strengthening Legislative Staff – Reviewing the Self-Assessment Guide for Legislative Agencies introduced in 2001 with the intent of updating and redistributing it; and developing guides for using the collaboration tools being provided by NCSL, then encouraging use of those tools.
Legislative Institution – Developing practical tools to promote the legislative institution; completing the work on the Legislative Service as a Career video project, getting it into the appropriate distribution channels, and exploring other ways to use it; and working with NCSL President Senator Richard Moore on his civility initiative.
Two other ongoing work groups have specific purposes. All staff section officers belong to the Staff Section Officers Work Group, providing them an opportunity to discuss common challenges and solutions and address concerns specific to staff sections. The Strategic Planning Work Group was formed and is led by the NCSL Staff Vice Chair Michael Adams, its focus is on planning for the next conference year as well as longer-term for LSCC.
As I compose this note, we are one week away from the November 2 elections. Whatever the various results around the country, they will bring changes and challenges to the legislature. As legislative staff, we will rise to meet them, because that is what we do. In the midst of those efforts, remember the resources that are available to you.
Certainly, NCSL is one of those resources. Its staff offer information and support and are always ready to help however possible. NCSL also provides the framework for the networks we have as legislative staff, most notably in our staff sections. These connections allow us to communicate across the boundaries that might easily confine us, sharing our hard-earned wisdom and experience in this unique environment with each other for the common good.
It is my privilege to serve as your NCSL staff chair this year. If you have thoughts, comments or questions about anything else pertaining to legislative staff and NCSL, please let me know. The year is off and running, and I look forward to seeing how it develops.