Issue Forums

Issue Forums

You will find more than 150 policy sessions and more than 300 experts that will give you insight and ideas on how to solve the critical challenges in your state. Below is a just a sample of those sessions.

Legislator and Staff Training

The Legislative Summit offers legislators and legislative staff the most intensive and specific training experience available anywhere in the nation.

Legislators and staff will hone their skills at:

  • Crisis Leadership
  • Effective Management
  • Media Relations
  • Powerful Presentations
  • Doing More with Less
  • Redistricting
  • Soclal Media
  • Time Management

Earn Continuing Legal Education (CLE) Credit

Full conference attendees will be eligible to receive up to a year's worth of CLE credit at various sessions for a flat fee of $125.


State Budgets and the Economy

The U.S. Economy: When Will It Return to "Normal"?
Examine important factors affecting the economic recovery and its implication for states.

The Changing Role of State Government
To plug record-high budget gaps, states are cutting programs, shifting costs to the public and furloughing workers. Which strategies pay off, in cost savings and improved services, and will the recession permanently change how state government works?

Maximizing State Economic Growth
While the effects of the recession linger and unemployment remains high in most states, there are successful strategies for positioning your state economy to foster long-term and sustainable economic growth.

CFPB: The Unique Bureau
Analyze the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and how it will function, examine its power and authority and explore how it will operate differently from other financial regulatory agencies.

Return on Investment: Improving Results and Saving Money
From corrections and education to children's programs, evidence-based research, use of data and cost-benefit analysis are emerging as key tools for state legislatures to improve results and save money, and the most impressive examples to date are in adult and juvenile corrections. 


Building Skills and Creating Jobs
Recent initiatives with subsidized employment provide lessons on ways states can leverage limited resources and bring private sector employers to the table to put people back to work and help disadvantaged workers learn new job skills.

Growing Green: Fertilizing Job Growth and Local Economies
States are offering incentives to “green” industries to stimulate the economy and add jobs. Hear from former state leaders about how the market and regulatory environment can succeed in bringing companies to their states.

Creating Jobs By Reducing State Regulations
Corporate American and small businesses believe fewer government regulation would unleash new economic growth and create jobs, but how should state legislatures streamline state regulations? Classroom

Collective Bargaining
More than 800 bills were introduced during the 2011 legislative session making collective bargaining one of the hottest issues discussed in state houses across the country. Hear perspectives from four states about how their legislature tackled this controversial legislation.


State Pensions: The Financial and Legal Framework
Explore the current funding situation of state pensions, the legal framework that in many states limits policymakers' ability to revise state retirement plans as readily as the private sector can, and recent calls for increased federal regulation of state pensions. 

State Pensions: States Respond to Challenges
In 2010 and 2011, states have risen to the challenge of restructuring retirement plans to sustain them over the long haul. Hear about the unprecedented record of sweeping and innovative legislation in 2010 and 2011.

State Pensions: The Special Case of Teachers' Pensions
In addition to the financial and policy issues all public retirement plans confront, there is growing concern about the ability of teachers' retirement plans to continue their important role in recruiting and retaining highly qualified professionals. Hear the nature of the concerns and how to address them.

Pension Plan


Education Reform Through Choice, Charters and Vouchers
Legislators remain interested in providing school choice to students, especially those in low performing schools. Hear experts discuss recent state efforts to provide more choice through charters, vouchers and parent trigger laws, and the legal implications. Also explore the role technology plays in these reform efforts?

The Critical Link Between Higher Education and the Economy
As states consider public support for higher education, they are interested in strategies that have a clear "pay-off" in terms of return on investment, primarily in contributing to economic development, strengthening the workforce,  and creating jobs.

Complexity in College Admissions: How to Simplify the Process
Is the college admission process more complex and complicated than ever? Policymakers, parents and students should plan to attend this session for an inside look at a new study by the College Board's Advocacy and Policy Center, Complexity in College Admission: Fact or Urban Myth, which identifies the most challenging aspects of the process for students and parents. Hear recommendations and strategies from a panel of college admissions and financial aid experts that policymakers, parents and students can use to overcome these challenges.

Tour of the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County's Promise Neighborhood Project
The Eastside Promise Neighborhood program is a collaboration designed to create strong urban schools in San Antonio’s Eastside. The collaboration is led by United Way and includes partners such as the City of San Antonio, the San Antonio Independent School District, the San Antonio Housing Authority and Trinity University. Tour participants will visit the neighborhood and meet with parents involved in the program. This tour is for legislators and legislative staff. Please respond to Michael Reed or at (202) 624-8187 if you want to participate.

K-12 Education: Are States Getting What They Are Paying For?
Explore the results of state investments in K-12 education and examine how lawmakers might retool education funding to achieve better student success and ensure states get their money’s worth.



States Transforming Medicaid
Global and 1115 waivers, medical homes, care management, payment reform, and home and community-based care are old ideas taking on a whole new life. 

The ABC's of Healthcare Delivery Models: New Approaches to Generating Savings and Improving Quality
New health care delivery systems spell savings for legislators interested in curbing costs through Accountable Care Organizations and Patient Centered Medical Homes.

Here and Now: States Respond to Health Insurance Reform
Sixteen months into federal health reform, states are responding in different ways–some relying on existing laws, some creating new state policies, while others let the federal government initiate programs. These "market reforms" include coverage for adult dependents, patients with pre-existing conditions and early-retirees, as well as expanded consumer protections, premium rate review and medical loss ratios.

States Opting Out: Health Reform Challenges, Waivers and Alternatives
The ink is dry but the action is intense, as some legislators debate using state laws, constitutions or courts to take on parts of the Affordable Care Act.

Medicaid Block Grants: How Would They Work?
Predictability, stability, flexibility. These are all the claimed benefits of turning Medicaid payments into state block grants. What needs to happen for these benefits to be realized? Explore the options and challenges states may face if the Medicaid program is transformed into block grants.

Energy, Environment and Transportation

Pain at the Pump 
Volatile oil prices can threaten energy security and stifle the economy, so states and the federal government are encouraging diversification of transportation fuels. Explore transportation alternatives, what states will need to do to prepare for them, and the financial impact on state economies.

Is It Possible to Craft a Sensible Energy Policy?
America doesn’t suffer from a shortage of energy, but from a lack of coherent energy policy. Former Shell President John Hofmeister, who founded and now heads Citizens for Affordable Energy, will lead a lively discussion on practical and cost-effective approaches to shaping our energy future, and how to avoid the all-too-common partisan rhetoric—especially in Washington, D.C.—that serves only to stifle solutions.

U.S. Nuclear Energy Outlook
The U.S. nuclear energy industry is currently facing the challenges of aging power plants, license extensions, planning new facilities and options for waste disposal. Examine the outlook for nuclear energy in the U.S. and steps being taken to avoid a Japan nuclear situation.


Pain at the Pump


Human Services

Preparing for Bringing Home the Troops
With the end of combat in Iraq and Operation Enduring Freedom, America's troops will continue to return home to installations, bases and communities that will feel the stress of growth and expansion. Learn how various levels of government are preparing to meet the needs of returning members of the military, particularly those with physical and mental injuries.


Bringing Legislators to the Table: Addressing Hunger in America
This two-part issue forum features a panel presentation followed by hands-on learning at the acclaimed San Antonio Food Bank. The sessions highlight innovative public-private partnerships helping feed both traditional and new populations experiencing hunger in America, and include increasing access to SNAP, WIC and school-meals programs for children, families, veterans and elderly.


Testing the Constitution: State Immigration Laws and the Courts
In the absence of federal reform, states have taken the lead in developing immigration policy. But court challenges are putting on the brakes. Hear about recent court arguments and decisions, federal immigration and integration activities, and the implications for future state legislation. 

Redistricting and Elections

A New American Portrait
What does the new face of America look like? Now that the 2010 Census figures are in, learn what the big demographic trends are and what they mean for legislators considering policies on aging, health care, education, housing and voting rights.

The 2010 Redistricting Cycle--Unlike Any Before
Review how redistricting has changed and explore how the current cycle is breaking new ground with the use of the latest tools and innovative processes.




Creating the States' Agenda: What You Need to Know About the NCSL Business Meeting
On Thursday at the NCSL Business Meeting, you will be asked to consider and vote on the states’ message to Congress as well as changes to NCSL’s committees and policy development process. Come for a preview on the questions on which you will be asked to vote.

Legal Minefields in the Legislative Workplace
State legislatures face the same employment-related legal risks as any other organization. Learn the essential employer do’s and don’ts that you must know about hiring, firing, workplace harassment and employee performance management.

Crisis Leadership 
Tight budgets, shifting priorities, changing legislative control and divisive, complicated issues can become a crisis. But skills and leadership style can defuse difficult situations, work to create a collaborative atmosphere and preserve public support for the Legislature. Hear from legislators who have successfully steered their chambers through tough times and how they did it.

The Art of Public Speaking
In this informative and entertaining workshop, Professor Stephen Lucas outlines practical tips for transforming your speeches into memorable moments, which he illustrates with video clips from the great speeches of our time.

Global Perspectives on the Legislative Institution
Compare institutional procedures between types of legislatures and parliaments around the world and "talk shop" with international visitors to learn about each others' strategies for achieving pressing policy goals. Speakers will represent Australia, Azerbaijan and South Africa. 


A Revenue Opportunity WITHOUT a Tax Increase
Simple software programs—called zappers—allow businesses to skim cash off receipts, lowering totals, and cheating states out of millions of dollars in tax revenues each year. Some businesses may evade as much as 50 percent of taxes. Learn about the options available for combating this new technology for committing fraud, including state experiences with imposing penalties on users of this software.

Is Technology Transforming Government?
Collaborative social media pages, transparency websites and other open government initiatives have the potential to improve public trust and promote civic engagement. Explore institutional, cultural and policy implications of these new technologies, and identify elements of successful initiatives.


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