Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee

Meeting Summary

Kiawah Island, South Carolina
January 20, 2012

Welcome and Introductions
Michael Adams, NCSL Staff Chair, opened the meeting and introduced LSCC members.  He encouraged members to attend Executive Committee sessions of interest the following day.
 
NCSL Executive Director’s Report
Bill Pound, NCSL Executive Director, said that FY 2012 dues receipts are on target, budget expenditures are in line with projections, and there are very few budget amendments for consideration by the Executive Committee.  He described the results of a survey NCSL commissioned from Talmey-Drake to assess NCSL services to members.  He noted that the survey showed strong support for NCSL services from legislative staff.  The full survey results will be presented tomorrow before the Executive Committee’s Member Outreach and Communication Subcommittee.  Bill concluded his remarks by indicating that the 2011 Legislative Summit was very successful, both in terms of content and budget, and that each of the fall legislative staff professional development seminars (PDS) met or exceeded their expectations.
 
Michael Adams told the committee that Laura Clemens, Clerk of the Ohio House, had resigned her position to pursue other professional interests, and that he was pleased to recommend Jimmetta Peoples, Alabama Senate Security and President of the National Legislative Services and Security Association, as her replacement on NCSL’s Executive Committee.
 
Report from Executive Committee Working Group to Review Committee Structure and Policy Development
John Bjornson, co-chair, delivered the working group’s report.  He focused on three working group objectives: 1) develop NCSL core principles; 2) sunset policy directives; and 3) define terms for legislative staff and appointment of staff co-chairs for standing committees.  John noted that the issue with the third point is that as agreed to at Legislative Summit, staff officers and members of standing committees are appointed for two-year terms.  This requires the appointments to be made jointly by the NCSL Staff Chair and Vice Chair, but the Vice Chair isn’t elected until Legislative Summit and the appointment process begins before Legislative Summit. One option to resolve this is to return to a one-year term for staff.  John said the working group would address this at its meeting tomorrow.
 
Linda Pittsford, Standing Committees Staff Co-Chair, indicated that the standing committees had discussed this issue and would recommend that NCSL retain staff co-chairs for each committee, but revert back to a one-year term for staff.  Discussion ensued questioning the need for staff co-chairs based on problems in developing agendas, getting additional staff participation to fill committee slots, and obtaining supervisor approval for longer terms.
 
Reports from LSCC Subcommittees
Programs and Professional Development.  Tara Perkinson, chair, delivered the subcommittee’s report.  She noted that Paul Danczyk with the Legislative Staff Management Institute (LSMI) presented the LSMI budget to the subcommittee for review and approval.  The budget is $120,000 and is comprised of revenue from the NCSL Foundation for State Legislatures, participants’ fees and outside sources.  LSCC approved the LSMI budget.
 
Tara continued her report with a description of NCSL’s Personal/District Staff Network and Young Professionals organization, which are designed to reach out to other legislative staff.  She discussed the e-learning grant guidelines that support webinars, and noted that 20 webinars are scheduled but only six are from staff sections.  Tara addressed concerns expressed by subcommittee members regarding the staff schedule at Legislative Summit, including elimination of a staff section slot on Tuesday morning, loss of a second Legislative Staff University, and replacing the traditional staff section lunches with breakfasts.  Discussion ensued about the importance of retaining the lunches because they attract better participation and also serve as business meetings.  One suggestion was to schedule the lunches opposite the standing committee lunches on Tuesday since only 50 staff attended the standing committee lunches at last year’s Legislative Summit.  NCSL staff responded that they would continue to work with LSCC to address their concerns about the schedule.
 
Communications, Community and Collaboration.  Holly Lyons, chair, delivered the subcommittee’s report.  She noted that the subcommittee discussed 1) different ways to reach out to legislative staff to expand their involvement with NCSL; 2) more effective ways to conduct LSCC orientation activities for new staff both at Legislative Summit and through webinars; and 3) how to make better use of LSMI alumni and speakers at subsequent NCSL meetings.
 
Institution, Support and Efficiencies Subcommittee.  John Bjornson, vice-chair, delivered the subcommittee’s report.  He reviewed the video project designed to promote legislative service as a career and indicated that nine of the 10 videos have been completed.  He said the staff self-assessment guide and a new staff database are now on NCSL’s website.  John noted some of the challenges the subcommittee addressed about accessing information online and how to market the large number of publications on NCSL’s website.  He concluded his report by addressing the need to update the Model Code of Conduct to incorporate elements from the civility discussion conducted during the previous year; his proposal to do so was adopted by LCSS.            
 
Reports from Tactical and Technical Teams
Staff Section Officers.  Rich Beckwith, chair, delivered the officers report.  He noted that each of the seven staff sections that conducted professional development seminars in the fall had good attendance, strong program content and budgets that either broke even or ended with a surplus.  Six of the staff sections are planning to conduct a “Super PDS” in October in Madison, Wisconsin.  Rich said the officers expressed support for the joint meeting as a way to achieve cross-pollination of program ideas and to develop relationships with staff outside each staff section.  He indicated the officers had set a schedule for receiving ideas for possible joint sessions and had asked NCSL staff to establish a share-point site to facilitate discussion of ideas among staff section officers and staff section liaisons planning the PDS.
 
NCSL Website Testing and Feedback Team.  Ken Levine, team member, delivered the team’s report.  He noted that NCSL would be launching a new online Legislative Summit registration system in February and team members would help test it.  He asked for help from staff sections to identify 30 staff that could be surveyed on their experiences in navigating the NCSL website.
 
NCSL Support and Operation Issues Team.  Paula Dominguez, vice chair, delivered the team’s report.  She said the focus of the team’s work has been on following up with LSCC subcommittee and team chairs to determine the status of requests for assistance from NCSL staff.
 
Standing Committee Issues and Planning Team.  Linda Pittsford, co-chair, delivered the team’s report.  She reviewed staff attendance at the NCSL Fall Forum, and indicated that the six standing committee overall officers were contacting each of the 12 standing committee staff co-chairs to help with outreach to committee members to increase participation.  The officers are being assigned to committee listservs.  Linda said the officers also are reaching out to legislative staff directors to help recruit committee staff and will develop an FAQ document to explain the role of staff on standing committees.  She noted the officers are working on proposed amendments to NCSL’s bylaws to address the terms of office for standing committee staff co-chairs.  Linda concluded her remarks by reminding standing committee staff that they are eligible for e-learning grants to help their committees develop webinars.
 
Senior Staff and Director Relationship Building Team.  Holly Lyons, chair, delivered the team’s report.  She emphasized that although the team is focusing on outreach activities to senior staff, there is a need for greater continuity in trying to engage all legislative staff in LSCC and NCSL.
 
Strategic Planning Team.  Patsy Spaw, NCSL Staff Vice Chair, delivered the team’s report.  She emphasized that the team’s focus is on outreach to legislative staff.  Patsy suggested that LSCC develop more formalized guidelines to engage legislative staff in LSCC and NCSL, and an organized plan to convince staff section officers and state policy staff who may serve on standing committees that they play a critical role in the organization.  She concluded her remarks by saying it was important for staff that are active in NCSL to do a better job of informing their own staff about how best to participate in NCSL, whether through meetings, webinars or other e-learning opportunities.
        
Other Business
Michael Adams described a proposed NCSL bylaws amendment that would increase the number of staff officers from three to four by adding a Staff Chair-Elect.  If recommended by LSCC, the proposed change would go to the NCSL Budget, Finance and Rules Committee; if approved, to the Full Executive Committee; and if approved, to the NCSL membership at the Legislative Summit Business Meeting for final approval.  Tom Wright, LSCC/Executive Committee member and the amendment’s sponsor, described his rationale for the proposed change.  He suggested it would provide more continuity of service among NCSL staff and legislator officers, and give staff officers more time to develop their agendas, recruit staff to fill appointments, and work with their legislator counterparts.  Michael said he would form a working group to review the proposal and report back to LSCC.
 
The meeting adjourned.