General Information About Personal Staff
Staffing Structure and Hiring
Personal staff work for an individual member of the legislature and, in general, are hired by the member. Typically, one personal staff member works for one member. However, depending on the size of the member’s district, two to three (or more) personal staff members can work for one member. Also, one personal staff member can work for two to three (or more) members. In other states, the personal staffing structure depends on how much money is allocated to the member to employ personal staff. In the Louisiana Senate, for example, each senator is provided with a set amount of money to hire their legislative assistants. They can choose to hire one legislative assistant or divide their allocation between two legislative assistants.
The most common personal staffing structure is one personal staff to one member. Seventeen chambers have this structure. In 11 chambers, two personal staff are assigned to one member. Nine chambers allocate money to members to hire personal staff. Below is a complete breakdown of the personal staffing structure:
- In seventeen chambers, one personal staff member is provided to one member;
- In eleven chambers, two personal staff are provided to one member;
- In nine chambers, members are allocated money to hire personal staff;
- In eight chambers, one personal staff member is provided to two members;
- In six chambers, one personal staff member is provided to three (or more) members;
- In four chambers, three (or more) personal staff are provided to one member.
Six chambers have a staffing structure that is unique, not constant per member or their members have staffing are outside of the perimeters of personal staff. For example, in the Colorado House, the personal staffing structure is dictated by the maximum number of hours personal staff are allowed to work. Colorado representatives can hire up to two legislative aides to work a total of 420 hours, per legislator, per legislative session.
Members in 39 chambers have primary responsibility for hiring their staff. In the remaining 22 chambers, legislative leaders, upper-level management staff, or an administrative committee has primary responsibility for hiring personal staff. The Alabama Senate and California Assembly allow the member to recommend staff they would like to hire; however, the secretary of the senate and the Assembly Rules Committee, respectively, are the hiring entities.
24 chambers allow members to give final approval in hiring their aides, while 37 chambers require legislative leaders, upper-level management staff or an administrative committee to give final approve for hiring personal staff.
Year-round vs. session-employee
In 40 chambers, aides work year-around for the member. In nine chambers, personal staff are session-only staff, and personal staff in 12 chambers are year-around employees and session-only staff. In the Oregon Senate and House, Virginia Senate and Washington Senate, the personal staffing structure is two personal staff to one member; however, in each of these chambers, one aide is a year-around employee and the other is a session-only employee.
Where Personal Staff conduct their work
Personal staff can work in a member’s capitol office, a member’s district office (if allowable) or both, depending of the member’s preferences. Typically, a member’s district office is supported by the Legislature, either through funding or oversight, and staffed by individuals that are paid by the Legislature.
Personal staff in 37 chambers work only in the member’s capitol office, while in three chambers, personal staff work solely in the member’s district office. Personal staff in 21 chambers can work in the member’s capitol office or district office, depending on the member’s preference.