2012 Professional Development Seminar Agenda

Picture of a GavelLegal Services Staff Section - 2012 Professional Development for Legislative Attorneys and Editors
Madison, Wisconsin
October 10-12, 2012

Agenda with Handouts


Participating Staff Sections
Leadership Staff Section LSS
Legal Services Staff Section LSSS
Legislative Information and Communications Staff Section LINCS
National Association of Legislative Information Technology NALIT
National Legislative Security and Services Association NLSSA
Research and Committee Staff Section RACSS

LSSS and five other NCSL staff sections met in Madison for a "Super PDS."  

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

7:00 am-8:30 am


7:45 am—10:00 am

Joint Plenary Breakfast: Decoding Body Language
Learn to read body language during this interactive, cutting-edge, keynote program. Janine Driver is a former ATF agent, the New York Times best selling author of "You Say More Than You Think" and president of the Body Language Institute.

Moderator: Rob Stoddard, National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA)
Speaker: Janine Driver, president, Body Language Institute, Washington, D.C.

10:15 am—11:10 am

Editing Editors (Editors’ Track)
From the drafting attorney’s point of view, this session will explore the things that can make the editor’s presentation of ideas more or less effective. Tami Dodge will begin with the idea that it is not necessarily fun to have your work edited, and she will point to some forms of expression that could aggravate the drafter and distract from the substance of the editor’s ideas. Tami will then turn to other factors that make the editor’s written presentation more effective.

Moderator: Kathy Follett, senior legislative editor, Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin
Speaker: Tamara Dodge, legislative attorney, Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin

Presentation Handout

10:15 am—11:15 am

Elections and Voter ID Laws (Attorneys’ Track)  - (LSSS, RACSS, LSS)
Voter ID has been the hottest topic in the world of elections for the past two years. It is highly partisan and often relies on emotions rather than evidence. This session will feature legislative staff from states that have recently tackled the issue of voter ID, all from different perspectives. Topics will include the general principles that can be drawn from often conflicting court opinions, suggestions on how to evaluate arguments and evidence from a wide array of sources, and stories of voter ID from drafting to the legislative process to implementation and, sometimes, court challenge.

Moderator: Michael Gallagher, legislative attorney, Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin
Speakers: Jennie Drage Bowser, senior fellow, NCSL

Presentation Handouts

Jessica Karls-Ruplinger, senior staff attorney, Legislative Council, Wisconsin
John Fellows, general counsel, Legislative Research and General Counsel, Utah

11:15 am—12:15 pm

A View From the Bench: Discussion with a Supreme Court Justice (LSSS, RACSS, LSS)
David T. Prosser Jr., a justice on the Wisconsin Supreme Court, will discuss his perspective on the legislature and the legislative process as a judge and his perspective on the judiciary as a former Speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly.

Moderator: Nancy Cyr, director, Legislative Research Office, Nebraska
David T. Prosser Jr., justice, Wisconsin Supreme Court

12:15 pm—12:45 pm


12:45 pm—1:45 pm

U.S. Supreme Court Update: Looking Forward and Looking Back
What are the implications for federalism of the Supreme Court’s most recent term now that the dust is settling?  What important cases from the last term did you miss because they were overshadowed by the Affordable Care Act cases and Arizona immigration case?  What cases has the Court accepted so far in the October 2012 term that affect state legislatures?  Discuss these questions and more with Lisa Soronen, executive director, State and Local Legal Center

Presentation Handouts

1:45 pm—3:00 pm

Best Practices for Writing Bill Analyses
A well written bill analysis is a great benefit to lawmakers and the public, particularly if it also frames the bill within the context of current law.  Making sure bill analyses are accurate and updated to reflect amendments are an important part of the process. Learn how other states produce bill analyses.

Moderator: Sabrina Lewellen, RACSS vice-chair, Arkansas
Panelists: Fern Knepp, legislative attorney, Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin
Trina Griffin, staff attorney, Research Division, North Carolina
Sharon Wenger, principal analyst, Legislative Research Department, Kansas

3:15 pm—4:15 pm

Lessons Learned from Large Events at Capitols: Safety v. 1st Amendment Rights - (LINCS,NLSSA, LSS, LSSS)
Planning for large events keeps the legislature running smoothly, prepares the staff and protects the rights of citizens. Several states have learned from dealing with demonstrations, serving as movie sets, welcoming high-profile visitors and accommodating other major events. Learn how to provide citizens access, control crowds and avoid negative publicity.

Presentation Handout

Panelists: Joseph T. Kreye, Legislative Attorney, Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin
George Scheer, Captain, Texas Department of Public Safety
Jay Pearson, Information & Communications Services Director, House of Delegates, Virginia
Bladen Finch, Senate Page Program Director, Senate Clerk's Office, Virginia     

4:30 pm—5:45 pm

Publishing Statutes and Legislative Publications in the Electronic Age
Delaware has developed downloadable statutes designed to be compatible with electronic reading devices. A few states are formatting statutes for the small screen of a handheld device. 

Presentation Handouts


Moderator: Bruce Hoesly, Revising Attorney, Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin
Speaker: Jeffrey Hague, Registrar of Regulations, Legislative Council, Delaware

6:30 pm

Joint Reception and Tours at the Wisconsin Capitol

Thursday, October 11, 2012

7:45 am—9:30 am

Are You Hyper-connected?
Being connected to the web, mobile technologies and social media have made many of us feel over or hyper-connected. Could being hyper-connected actually benefit younger generations? Lee Rainie with the Pew Center on the States will review the latest data that shows how constant contact among younger generations allows them to be nimble, quick-acting multi-taskers who count on the Internet as their external brain and approach problems in a different way from older generations. But could this also lead to a generation that looks for quick fixes, has a loss of patience and eliminates deep-thinking skills?

9:45 am—11:00 am

On the High Wire: The Editorial Balancing Act  (LSSS, RACSS, LINCS)
Balancing the needs of various editorial “customers”—the legislature, a committee, an individual legislator, a supervisor, and, ultimately, the residents of the state—is a challenge even for experienced editors. The needs are not always the same, and it may not always be feasible to meet all of them equally and stay on deadline and on budget. Anita Samen, managing editor of the University of Chicago Press and part of the team behind The Chicago Manual of Style, will discuss the challenges of balancing competing editing tasks and priorities, maintaining editorial standards (one’s own and those of the organization) in less-than-ideal circumstances, and serving the needs of various editorial “customers” while remaining focused, productive, and effective. This will be an interactive, workshop-like session, and attendees are invited to share insights, war stories, and survival tips.

Moderator: Wendy Jackson, senior legislative editor, Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin—Wendy's Biggest Editing Mistake and What She Learned
Speaker: Anita Samen, managing editor, University of Chicago Press

11:00 am—Noon

Confidentiality of Drafting and Legislative Records  (Wisconsin v. Zien)
Across the country, activities relating to open records and the Freedom of Information Act have grown. In this session, Rob Marchant will do a soup-to-nuts overview of Attorney General of Wisconsin v. Zien, et al. This case involved a public records request for a senator’s records relating to an un-introduced bill. Rob will discuss how the lawsuit came about, all the factors that came into deciding to fight it, and what arguments ultimately prevailed.

Robert Marchant, Deputy Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds

Presentation Handouts

12:15 pm—12:45 pm

Joint Plenary Luncheon
Speaker: Patsy Spaw, secretary of the Senate, Texas

12:45 pm—1:45 pm

Compromise and Negotiation
Professor Ralph Cagle, University of Wisconsin Law School
Negotiation has always been a primary instrument in the legislative process, where skillful policymakers meet determined advocacy with principled compromise. Yet recent trends of hyper-partisanship may be eroding the vitality of negotiation and compromise as a discipline of democracy. How can legislative staff ensure its survival? What techniques and perspectives can help you negotiate more favorable and lasting outcomes? This session will provide you with practical skills and lend insight into your own negotiation strengths and weaknesses. Professor Ralph Cagle teaches negotiation skills at the University of Wisconsin Law School and has conducted negotiation training programs for professional groups throughout the United States. In a prior career, he served as a key aide to legislative leaders in Wisconsin, represented clients before the legislature and conducted research on state legislatures.

1:45 pm—3:00 pm

Solving Drafting Problems
This session will address selected problems often encountered by drafters, including severability, the passive voice, and how to deal with long and detailed series.  It will feature hands-on drafting and participatory exercises.

Becky Lennahan, consultant and former deputy director of the Colorado Office of Legislative Legal Services

Presentation Handout

3:15 pm—4:15 pm

Case Study—Spotting Loopholes in Bill Drafts (Attorneys’ Track) 
In this session, Ronnie Frith will examine several bills the Mississippi Legislature enacted that were later found to have loopholes, misinterpretations, or unintended consequences, requiring the legislature to revise the bills during later sessions. Learn what the drafting attorneys failed to anticipate that led to unexpected or undesired results, and offer and discuss suggestions about how to better identify loopholes and prevent unintended consequences when drafting legislation.
Ronald M. Frith, Staff Attorney, House of Representatives, Mississippi

Presentation Handouts

3:15 pm—4:15 pm

My Biggest Editing Mistake and What I Learned (Editors’ Track)
Do you remember a serious editing mistake you committed—and cringe? You are not alone. During this session for editors, listen to Wendy and Noah come clean about their memorable mistakes and hear about the valuable insights they gained. Every editing crisis brings first pain and then opportunity to grow.
Panelists: Wendy Jackson, senior legislative editor, Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin
Christopher Siciliano, legislative editor, Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin
Noah Natzke, legislative analyst, Legislative Audit Bureau, Wisconsin
Ashley Zimmerman, senior legislative assistant, Office of Legislative Legal Services, Colorado

Presentation Handouts

4:15 pm—5:30 pm

RUSH! Management—Using Triage to Ensure Best Possible Outcomes
Editors and reviewers are often challenged to review documents under time constraints that necessitate an abbreviated review, yet drafters still expect such reviews to “catch” errors that are most glaring, most embarrassing to drafters, or that most threaten the integrity of the law. How can drafters and editors manage rush reviews to ensure the greatest accuracy of the bill, support clear communication, and manage expectations of document quality under rush conditions. Presenters will offer examples of legislation and the best ways to ensure accuracy.

Moderator: Cathlene Hanaman, legislative attorney, Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin
Janet Rahm, deputy revisor–editing, Office of the Revisor of Statutes, Minnesota
Sheree Speer, assistant revisor, Office of the Revisor of Statutes, Minnesota
Christopher Siciliano, legislative editor, Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin
Peggy Hurley, legislative attorney, Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin

Friday, October 12, 2012

8:30 am—9:45 am

Electronic Bill Drafting and Tracking Systems (LSSS & NALIT)
Several states have recently upgraded their bill drafting systems. Hear from IT professionals and bill drafters in several states about the tools used and the processes involved in system design and implementation.

Michael Duchek, legislative attorney, Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin
Doug DeMuth, legislative technology Service Bureau, Wisconsin
Edward Bell, interim chief information officer, Legislature, Massachusetts
Mendora Servin, information technology specialist, Legislative Counsel Bureau, California
Armin Yazdi, attorney, Legislative Counsel Bureau, California 

10:00 am—11:15 am

Legal Writing for the Bill Drafter (LSSS, RACSS)
Did you know there is no word for dragon in the Somali language?  One legislative drafter shares what he has learned about how to turn a policy idea into a good draft. Toby Dorsey, author of the Legislative Drafter’s Deskbook: A Practical Guide will share his insights on drafting law.

Moderator: Margaret (Peggy) Piety, staff attorney, Legislative Services Agency, General Assembly, Indiana      
Tobias Dorsey, special counsel for drafting, United States Sentencing Commission (USSC) and author of Legislative Drafter's Deskbook

Presentation Handout

11:15 am—12:15 pm

Thinking Skills for Legislative Staff (LSSS, RACSS)
This session will explore how skilled thinking improves analysis, writing, and team meetings. Thinking and intelligence differ. Using car racing to illustrate, thinking is like driver skill while intelligence is like engine horsepower. Drivers win races. Similarly, the ability to argue a point and to criticize an opposite point of view, while valuable, often impedes thinking. In this workshop, participants will learn to recognize poor thinking, use parallel thinking, and learn techniques to evaluate and generate good ideas.

Moderator: Terry C. Anderson, director, Legislative Council, Wisconsin
Speaker: John Turcotte, director, Program Evaluation Division, North Carolina

12:15 pm

Seminar Concludes



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