Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee

Meeting Summary

Atlanta, Georgia
August 12, 2013
 
Welcome and Introductions
Patsy Spaw, NCSL Staff Chair, called the meeting to order and had the LSCC members introduce themselves.
 
NCSL Executive Director’s Report
Bill Pound, NCSL Executive Director, said attendance at the Atlanta Legislative Summit looked close to what it was in Chicago last year, but the number of legislators and legislative staff is higher.  He had good news on the budget front indicating that instead of a large budget shortfall as projected earlier, there would be either a small deficit or small surplus in FY 13.  For FY 14, six states that had not fully paid their dues in FY 13 had already done so this year.  Bill acknowledged there were some scheduling conflicts with staff meetings and the International Program in particular at the Legislative Summit, but the conflicts were difficult to avoid because of the meeting’s tight schedule.  Efforts would be made to reduce them in the future.
 
Introduction of Staff Nominating Committee and Executive Committee Candidates
Patsy Spaw introduced members of NCSL’s Legislative Staff Nominating Committee—Alfred “Butch” Speer (chair), Holly Lyons, Julie Pelegrin, Anne Sappenfield, Susan Clarke Schaar, Mike Sunseri, Eddie Weeks, Andrea Wilko and Jeffrey Wice.  She also introduced the candidates for Staff Vice Chair—Margaret “Peggy” Piety and Linda Pittsford—and for at-large membership on the NCSL Executive Committee—Raul Burciaga, David Byerman, Martha Carter, Debra Levine, Walker Reagan, Timothy Scott, Anita Thomas and Chuck Truesdell.
 
Reports from LSCC Subcommittees
Programs, Professional Development and Member Outreach.  Paula Dominguez, chair, presented the subcommittee’s report.  She noted that the recently concluded Legislative Staff Management Institute (LSMI) had 38 participants from 21 states.  She said LSMI had presented a new webinar proposal modeled on the successful June 13 Anna Post webinar that would use a single speaker on leadership issues.  LSCC would apply for a $2,000-$3,000 e-learning grant from NCSL to cover the costs, and schedule it for November-December.  Paula offered a motion to approve the proposal, which was adopted.  Paula concluded her remarks by noting the two speakers for the staff plenary sessions later in the week—Phil Boyle at the Legislative Staff University on Tuesday, and former NCSL President Art Hamilton at the Legislative Staff Achievement Luncheon on Wednesday.
 
Information Technology and NCSL Website Review.  Chuck Truesdell, chair, introduced the subcommittee’s report by noting he had created four work groups to address specific topics.  Martha Carter described the recently published “how-to” webinar guide for legislative staff entitled “Want to Have a Webinar? Here’s How to Get Started!”  She was happy to report that it already was posted on NCSL’s website and that copies would be handed out at the Legislative Staff Achievement Luncheon on Wednesday.  She thanked Patsy Spaw for making the copies possible, who in turn said how proud she was of the guide.  Peter Capriglione indicated that NCSL staff Pam Greenberg had prepared a report on the status of technology in the states entitled “Current Issues and Trends in Legislative Information Technology” in lieu of sending out a separate survey to legislative information technology directors.  Ken Levine said the Legislative Summit “app” was done and operating effectively.  He thanked NCSL staff Ed Smith, Doug Sacarto and Karen Hansen for their efforts.  Chuck concluded the report by noting the new NCSL website will “go live” on September 21 for review by legislators and staff, with an October 21 launch date for the general public.
 
Reports from LSCC Work Groups
Staff Section Officers.  Peggy Piety, chair, delivered the work group’s report. She reviewed the 2013 schedule for staff section professional development seminars and said this was the first time since 2008 that all staff sections would be holding a seminar.  She acknowledged that some staff sections are still having issues with low attendance at the seminars, and that the work group would work with Martha Carter to develop a marketing strategy for the “how-to” webinar guide to promote alternative outreach and professional development options.
 
Standing Committees.  Linda Pittsford, co-chair, delivered the work group’s report.  She said a letter was sent out to legislative staff directors reminding them to appoint members to the standing committees.  The work group is in the initial planning stages for the Legislative Forum scheduled for December 4-6, 2013, in Washington, D.C.  Linda noted that the number of committees had been reduced from 10 to eight with the consolidation of four committees into two.  She said there is a need for an orientation session for committee staff officers, which will be conducted through a webinar.  It will focus on how to better integrate legislators and staff in running the committees.
 
Strategic Planning.  Tom Wright, NCSL Staff Vice Chair, emphasized that his main focus is on recruitment of new staff to NCSL.  He said he plans to send a letter to each of the first-time staff attendees at the Legislative Summit to sustain their involvement, and will promote use of social media in recruiting new staff.  He plans to develop a list of “what’s working” with staff sections to share successful experiences and help bolster attendance at the fall professional development seminars.    
 
Reports from LSCC Subcommittees (cont.)
Legislative Institution.  Tara Perkinson, chair, delivered the subcommittee’s report.  She noted that she had created three work groups to address specific topics.  Julie Pelegrin reviewed the work of the group charged with recommending mentoring and orientation programs for new LSCC members. This included documents on paths to participation in NCSL, recommendations on preparing LSCC members for their responsibilities, additional suggested frequently asked questions about LSCC, and a proposed recruitment letter to potential Executive Committee candidates. Ann Cornwell described the content of LSCC subcommittee notebooks that would contain resources for use by future subcommittees to ensure some degree of continuity in LSCC deliberations.
 
Tara Perkinson passed out proposed LSCC bylaws and six amendments to the bylaws for consideration by the full LSCC.  She described five of the amendments as being technical.  Tom Wright asked for a motion to consider the bylaws as a “working document” in order to review each of the amendments.  John Bjornson, the principal drafter of the amendments, described them.  Karl Aro questioned the amendment to Article IX that would elevate the staff vice chair to the office of staff chair in the event of a vacancy (as already stipulated in NCSL’s bylaws), but then require the new staff chair to appoint a nominating committee to select a new staff vice chair; would that preclude the new officers from serving full terms after the completion of the unexpired terms? Patsy Spaw acknowledged the lack of clarity and suggested that LSCC could form a work group to adopt standing orders to clarify the issue. Michael Adams, Immediate Past Staff Chair, noted that NCSL’s bylaws give authority to the NCSL Executive Committee to fill vacancies (aside from President and Staff Chair), and the new LSCC bylaws might conflict with them.  After further discussion, the first five amendments were adopted.
 
John Bjornson then described the final amendment to Article IV of the proposed bylaws. Discussion raised a question as to why there was a need for the amendment (which would specify three LSCC subcommittees and three work groups).  John indicated that the amendment would provide for continuity of jurisdiction and institutionalization of knowledge.  Michael Adams asked why these specific subcommittees and work groups?  John responded that they were based on past practice.  After additional discussion, Michael offered a motion to strike Article IV, arguing that the level of specificity contained in the designation of subcommittees and work groups would dampen innovation in addressing future issues.  John noted that a proposed change from “shall” to “may” regarding the responsibilities of each subcommittee and work group would allow for flexibility by the staff chair in assigning responsibilities.  Discussion ensued with both support and opposition offered to the motion.  The motion was defeated.
 
Ken Levine proposed a motion to change the name of the Information Technology and NCSL Website Review Subcommittee to Information Technology Issue; he felt review of the website may not be necessary in the immediate future with the launch of the new website in October.  The motion was adopted.  John Bjornson offered a motion to adopt Article IV as amended.  The motion passed.
 
Further discussion addressed a provision that changes to the bylaws would require a three-fifths vote instead of a simple majority.  Other LSCC members sought additional time to review the bylaws since this was the first time they had been discussed by the full LSCC. Tom Wright said they were not cast in stone and would be subject to additional work in the coming year.  Karl Aro raised his earlier concern over the lack of clarity in the vacancy language and offered a motion to amend Article IX to permit officers serving an unexpired term to also serve the following full term.  With assurances from Patsy Spaw that the issue would be revisited in the coming year and that past practice would inform the vacancy process, Karl withdrew his motion.  John Bjornson then offered a motion to adopt the LSCC bylaws as amended.  The motion was adopted.
 
The meeting adjourned.