ATTENTION LEGISLATIVE STAFF: NCSL IS FOR YOU

As a legislative staffer, you automatically belong to NCSL.

No matter what your job entails, if you are a legislative staffer, the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is your professional organization. NCSL is your resource on legislative issues, your one-stop shop for professional development and your connection to legislative staffers around the country.

This page outlines the opportunities, services and resources that go along with your membership, including:

  • Research and Contacts
  • Professional Staff Associations and Networks
  • Professional Development
  • NCSL's Standing Committees
  • Ways to Get Involved
  • Other Resources
  • Frequently Asked Questions

Research & Contacts

NCSL researchers and experts stay on top of legislative issues and give you access to the latest news and ideas through top-notch consulting services, publications and digital resources. Take advantage of a vast amount of free research materials about state policy on the NCSL website.

Research

NCSL answers thousands of questions from legislators and staff every year. A few examples:

  • How are states addressing education, health care and budget challenges; e.g., can you send me information about transportation infrastructure funding in other states?
  •  What are the latest ideas on emerging topics?
  • What is Congress doing that affects my state?
  • What are the rules and procedures in other legislatures?
  • How can I team up with experts on my issue or my counterparts in other states?

If you need background material, research or ideas, NCSL issue specialists respond quickly with accurate, up-to-date information.

Who is the best specialist to fill your request or answer your question? Find out at ncsl.org/members. You can also email or call the NCSL Denver office at 303-364-7700. For state-federal issues, call the Washington, D.C., office at 202-624-5400.

NCSL State Liaisons

To ensure streamlined, personal service, NCSL assigns a liaison (or two) to each state. State liaisons visit their assigned state each year, meeting with legislators and staff to learn about your top concerns and educate you about NCSL programs and services. They also serve as a single point of contact for any questions or needs you may have. Find your state liaison on our interactive map. 

Custom Consulting and Assistance

NCSL provides legislators and staff with reliable research and expertise to help analyze and develop legislation. At the request of a legislative leader or committee, our subject matter experts will testify or help identify experts to provide testimony.

Through direct consultation with a legislature, NCSL specialists can work with leaders and staff directors to help make their operations more efficient and effective. Areas of expertise include legislative organization and management, rules and procedures, committee operations, personnel policies and strategic planning.

Connect With Colleagues Across the Country
Professional Staff Associations and Networks

NCSL has nine professional staff associations (generally organized by job function) and three staff networks, all of which provide professional development, networking and information-sharing for different legislative staff disciplines. Each staff association provides professional development for its members, elects its own board, publishes a newsletter, hosts an email discussion group and maintains a membership directory.

Legislative staffers may be members of as many associations or networks as they wish, and are welcome to register and attend any professional development seminar or meeting, whether or not they are members.

Staff associations AND networks

The American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries (ASLCS), the oldest NCSL staff association, serves chief parliamentary officers and staff involved with lawmaking and administrative processes. It is NCSL’s home for legislative clerks, secretaries and their staffs.

Perfect for...

Perfect for:
Clerks, secretaries, parliamentary and administrative staff. Learn more ...

The association for Leadership Staff (LSS) serves staff who work directly for legislative leaders or legislative party caucuses, or as personal and district staff for legislators.

Perfect for:
Chiefs of staff and leadership, caucus and personal staff. Learn more ...

The Legislative Information and Communications Staff (LINCS) association connects and serves communications professionals who work for legislative agencies, chambers, caucuses or individual legislators.

Perfect for:
Communications directors, public information officers, press secretaries, audio and visual technicians, photographers, videographers. Learn more ...

The association for Legislative Research Librarians (LRL) serves librarians and information specialists in legislative agencies.

Perfect for:
Legislative librarians, information specialists. Learn more ...

The National Association of Legislative Fiscal Offices (NALFO) is the home for legislative staff involved in fiscal research, budget review and tax policy analysis.

Perfect for:
Economists, budget directors and staff, fiscal researchers and analysts. Learn more ...

The National Association of Legislative Information Technology (NALIT) serves legislative information technology professionals.

Perfect for:
Chief information officers, IT directors, systems analysts, software developers, tech support staff, network administrators, webmasters. Learn more ...

The National Legislative Program Evaluation Society (NLPES) serves legislative staff engaged in program evaluation, performance auditing or sunset review.

Perfect for:
Program evaluators, performance auditors, sunset review specialists. Learn more ...

The National Legislative Services and Security Association (NLSSA) is the long-standing association for security and service experts. It is for professionals who oversee and protect state capitols and coordinate support services for state legislatures.

Perfect for:
Sergeants-at-arms, capitol police chiefs, tour directors, protective services officers, facility directors. Learn more ...

The Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff (RELACS) association serves professionals who keep the wheels turning in state legislatures with a multitude of skill sets, from research, editing and bill drafting to policy analysis and legal, administrative and constituent services.

Perfect for:
Researchers, editors, attorneys, paralegals, committee staff, constituent service providers, administrative rules specialists, bill drafters, code revisers, policy analysts. Learn more ...

The Legislative Education Staff Network (LESN) is a coordinated network of professional legislative staff from across the country who work on education policy.

Perfect for:
Education policy specialists. Learn more ...

Young and New Professionals (YNP) serves those who are young and new to working for a legislature. It provides targeted professional development and networking to help with navigating the legislature, managing workloads and so much more.

Perfect for:
Young and new legislative staff and young and newly elected legislators. Learn more ...

The Human Resources Staff Network (HRSN) serves professionals who work in human resource management and personnel administration in state legislatures.

Perfect for:
Human resources directors and staff. Read the brochure ...

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Professional Development

NCSL sponsors a variety of meetings, seminars and workshops, podcasts and webinars that offer valuable tips, training and forums for legislative staff. Some sessions qualify for CLE (continuing legal education) or CPE (continuing professional education) credits.

In-State Professional DevelopmentNCSL frequently delivers professional development workshops and training sessions to legislative staff in their own state. These programs are customized to the specific legislative audience to reflect its unique workplace and the challenges of performing well in the legislative environment. Many of the programs offered by NCSL are at no cost to the state, while others may require cost sharing for faculty fees and travel. Below are just a few examples of professional development programs:
  • Values-Based Ethics Training
  • Presentation Skills
  • Writing for the Legislative Audience
  • Leadership and Management Skills
  • Working Together to Build Strong Teams (using the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator ®)
  • Strategic Planning and Team-Building Retreats
  • Sexual Harassment Prevention Training
  • Parliamentary Procedure
  • Workplace Dynamics (Dealing with Difficult People, Generations in the Workplace)

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Staff Professional Development SeminarsNCSL’s professional staff associations sponsor annual professional development seminars—usually held in the fall—that target the needs of legislative staff. Sessions cover job-specific skills (e.g., writing or analysis), policy topics (e.g., education or transportation), management (e.g., collaboration or leadership) or general professional development (e.g., public speaking or workplace culture). The collegial atmosphere of these seminars provides opportunities to share information and network with colleagues from other states.
NCSL Legislative SummitEach summer, thousands of legislators and staff come together at the Legislative Summit, the largest state legislative gathering in the nation. Participants can choose from more than 100 different sessions on critical policy issues and professional development topics facing legislatures today. NCSL’s professional staff associations, networks and standing committees sponsor a variety of programs and activities to better serve their constituencies.
NCSL Capitol ForumThe NCSL Capitol Forum is our second-largest meeting. In addition to the Legislative Summit, the Forum is the primary seminar sponsored by NCSL’s standing committees. It explores state-federal issues, and allows legislators and staff to benefit from the experiences of other states in shaping public policy, experimenting with new laws and managing the legislative institution.
Legislative Education Staff Network (LESN) SeminarsLESN sponsors semiannual seminars, providing members the opportunity to obtain professional development and training on the full continuum of education policy. LESN seminars prioritize opportunities for participants to network with other legislative staff and local, state and federal education professionals.
National Seminar on Human Resource Management in State LegislaturesThis seminar, held every other year, is designed for legislative human resources professionals and senior legislative staff responsible for developing, implementing and enforcing HR policies and practices. No other national training program offers this special focus on the legislature as an employer or brings together legislative staff who need to know more about this critical body of knowledge.
Legislative Staff Management Institute (LSMI) LSMI, the nation’s premier training program for senior legislative staff, provides legislative staff the opportunity to develop and enhance their management and leadership skills. Participants gain valuable insight during LSMI’s eight-day program of highly interactive seminars, discussions and team-building exercises with leading faculty and trainers from around the country. The focus is on knowing and understanding the challenges of managing in the legislative setting.
WebinarsNCSL’s webinars provide ongoing learning for legislative staff. The webinars cover everything from the most pressing policy issues to navigating the legislative environment. While the webinars cover a wide range of topics, the mission is the same: to help you excel in your job. Can’t make the webinar? We archive them for your convenience.
PodcastOur American States” is where you hear compelling conversations that tell the story of America’s state legislatures, the people in them, the politics that compel them and the important work of democracy. You can listen to the podcast on NCSL’s website, or subscribe through iTunes or Google Play.  

Exploring State & State-Federal Issues: Standing Committees

Subject areas covered by the committees

Budgets and Revenue
Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce
Education
Health and Human Services
Labor and Economic Development
Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety
Natural Resources and Infrastructure
Redistricting and Elections
 

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The NCSL Standing Committees are composed of legislators and legislative staff appointed by a chamber’s presiding officer or staff supervisor, respectively. Organized by subject matter, they explore both state and state-federal issues. They allow members to benefit from the experiences of other states in shaping public policy, developing best practices and managing legislative institutions.

While the committees explore a host of topics, they do not recommend specific policies to legislatures. They do, however, develop a “states’ agenda,” which guides NCSL’s advocacy on behalf of states’ collective interests in Washington, D.C.

Legislative staff play an important role on the committees by providing expertise, setting agendas, making presentations, participating in policy discussions and networking with their colleagues from other states. Committee staff members do not vote on NCSL policy directives or resolutions, but they otherwise act as equals of the legislator members.

Standing committees meet two times each year—at the Legislative Summit and the NCSL Capitol Forum. Each committee plans and presides over its sessions. Committees also disseminate information through seminars, websites, newsletters, listservs, print publications and digital materials.

Whether or not they are appointed to a committee, all legislators and staffers are welcome to attend committee meetings and programs.

As the issues facing state legislatures continue to evolve, NCSL reviews and modifies the standing committee structure to accommodate those changes.

 

WAYS TO GET INVOLVED

As legislative staff, you are automatically a member of NCSL. Getting involved benefits you!

Benefits of Participating

 

Network with peers from other states at meetings, webinars and professional development seminars, where you’ll build relationships and gain and share ideas, knowledge and best practices in your field.

Develop professional and leadership skills through NCSL’s committees, associations and professional development opportunities.

 
 

Keep informed on state legislative news, research and policy trends.

 

Ways to Get Involved

Professional Staff AsociationsParticipate in a professional staff association to meet and interact with colleagues across the country who have jobs like yours. Attend your association's annual professional development seminar (PDS) and suggest topics or write an article for its newsletter. Talk with a member of the association executive committee or NCSL liaison about how to get involved.
Standing CommitteesJoin one of NCSL’s standing committees, where legislators and legislative staff explore issues and develop the policies that guide NCSL’s advocacy efforts in Washington, D.C. Just ask your office’s director to request that NCSL add you to a committee.
NCSL WebsiteFind research, reports, databases, state-by-state comparisons, training and more.
Reading MaterialsRead State Legislatures magazine and LegisBriefs (white papers) to stay current on state policy and institutional news.
WebinarsParticipate in or suggest topics for a webinar.
Annual MeetingsAttend an annual NCSL meeting: Legislative Summit in summer, your professional staff association’s PDS in the fall or the Capitol Forum in December.
PanelistsVolunteer to serve as a moderator or panelist at your staff association’s PDS or Summit session.
AwardsNominate a colleague for one of several awards NCSL presents to staff.
InputShare your ideas! NCSL’s Executive Committee and its Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee, professional staff associations and standing committees would love your input on how we can best serve you.

NCSL helps you strengthen the legislative institution and promote your field of work!

Please email info@ncsl.org to accept this invitation to become an active participant in NCSL

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Other Resources

NCSL’s website opens the door to a vast resource for legislative staff. You can learn more about the organization, do comprehensive issue searches and network with colleagues around the country who share your interests and concerns. NCSL’s website contains more than 7,500 documents and over 30 databases tracking state legislation on the most pressing public policy issues.

As an NCSL member, you can access information not available to anyone else—such as a comprehensive list of the issues NCSL covers and their corresponding NCSL contacts—simply by creating a user name and password. Just click on the “Register” link in the upper right corner of the website.

In addition, NCSL has partnered with State Net/LexisNexis to provide our members exclusive access to our Bill Information Service (BIS).
This searchable database contains the full text of every bill in the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Congress for the current session.

NCSL Also Publishes:

NCSL Today
A short collection of the news most relevant to state legislatures, NCSL Today comes to you in a convenient, daily email.
Capitol to Capitol
This weekly roundup of actions in Washington, D.C., helps you stay up to date on Capitol Hill action affecting the states.
NCSL blog
NCSL staff contribute to a rolling blog that looks at issues large and small in a serious, concise and sometimes humorous way. 
LegisBriefs
These two-page briefs offer a quick look at the issues of the day. Four LegisBriefs are published each month and emailed to NCSL members. They contain plenty of links to additional resources for those who want to drill down.
NCSL magazine
NCSL brings you the newest and best ideas from the states through its magazine, which you receive free of charge. State Legislatures is the magazine of policy and politics, covering the people and processes in the laboratories of democracy.
Reports
For a deeper dive into the topics state legislatures are grappling with, NCSL publishes numerous reports each year, both on our website and in print. All our printed and online materials are available to NCSL members free of charge.
Newsletter
NCSL’s programs, professional associations and standing committees publish periodical newsletters. From The Canvass to the Fiscal Link and Plugged In to the Health & Human Services Link, you’ll stay up to date on the fast-paced worlds of elections, budgets, energy, health care and more.

America’s Professional Organization for Legislative Staff

The work group and NCSL extend their gratitude to chair Jon Heining and member Wendy Jackson for the extra effort they put into updating NCSL and You.

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Thanks to the entire group for its contributions:
Jon Heining, NCSL Staff Vice-Chair
Melody DeBussey, Georgia
Greg Fugate, Colorado
Susan Furlong, Nevada
J.J. Gentry, South Carolina
Aurora Hauke, Alaska
Wendy Jackson, Wisconsin
Joel Redding, Kentucky
Martha Wigton, Georgia