Guidelines for the Legislator Nominating Committee and Candidates for NCSL Office
Guidelines (1-6) were adopted by the NCSL Executive Committee in June 1987. Guideline 7 was adopted in April 1989 by the NCSL Executive Committee. Revised and Approved May 2004.
- The purpose of the NCSL nominating and election process is to select legislators and legislative staff who are broadly representative of the leadership and top management of the nation’s legislatures to lead the Conference. Successful candidates for NCSL office should have demonstrated through proven leadership in their own legislature and positions of responsibility in NCSL that they can effectively represent NCSL before the public, Congress, and the Administration and provide leadership to the Executive Committee and the NCSL staff. The ability to attend meetings either through scheduling or funding also is a criteria for selection.
- For legislators, the NCSL By-laws mandate, in so far as possible, rotation in office between the two major political parties. In 1999, the NCSL membership adopted an amendment to the By-laws designed to avoid as rigid regional rotation which, when combined with the requirement of partisan rotation, could result in shutting out one of the parties in each of the regions. While the Executive Committee continues to believe that long-term geographic balance is important to the organization, it affirms its concern that no viable candidate for NCSL office be excluded from consideration by the combination of their party and region.
- During each Annual Meeting, NCSL provides an opportunity for candidates to interview with members of the Nominating Committee. Candidates are discouraged from holding their own reception or events.
- Candidates are urged to “campaign” for office principally by written and oral communication with the members of the Nominating Committee and are discouraged from spending funds to lobby the Nominating Committee or for personal or political advertising.
- The election of officers and Executive Committee members should occur entirely among the nation’s legislators and legislative staff. It is not considered appropriate to involve non-legislators in the legislator nominating committee process. Involvement will be considered grounds for a candidate’s disqualification.
- Members of the Nominating Committee should not be elected as at-large members of the Executive Committee in the year in which they serve on the Nominating Committee. Any member of the Nominating Committee who wishes to be considered for membership on the Executive Committee must resign from the Nominating Committee in a timely manner.
- Individuals interested in being considered for membership on the NCSL Executive Committee shall indicate their interest in writing to the chair of the NCSL Nominating Committee or the NCSL Executive Director who will forward the information to the Nominating Committee chair. All applications for membership are due by noon the day before the first meeting of the Nominating Committee at the NCSL Annual Meeting. Individuals attending the NCSL Annual Meeting who are interested in serving on the NCSL Executive Committee will be interviewed by the Nominating Committee at the NCSL Annual Meeting.
- Members of the NCSL Executive Committee are elected for a one year term. At-large members have the opportunity to be elected for a maximum of three years. The NCSL By-laws state: Absence from two Executive Committee meetings within a year without cause shall be grounds for removal (Article XI, Section 3). The Nominating Committee will interview any Executive Committee member who is eligible to continue on the committee and did not attend two or more meetings to ascertain whether or not that individual will be nominated for an additional one year term.
- A copy of these Guidelines should be distributed to each candidate for NCSL office.
Nominating Procedures for Legislative Staff
Terms of Office and Vacancies
Pursuant to the NCSL Bylaws, the term of office for officers and other members serving on the Executive Committee shall be from the close of the Annual Meeting through the next following Annual Meeting.
An Executive Committee member can serve no more than three consecutive terms. Terms as officers or ex-officio members shall not count toward the limitation of three consecutive terms.
A member appointed to fill a vacancy on the Executive Committee shall serve the remainder of that year and shall be required to interview at least once with the nominating committee and be considered competitively with other candidates before continuing for another term. A partial year appointment, as indicated by the date of the Executive Committee’s approval of the appointment pursuant to the NCSL Bylaws, of greater than six months shall be deemed one full term.
In the event of a vacancy in the office of Staff Chair, the Staff Vice Chair shall succeed to the office of Staff Chair. The Staff Chair shall then appoint a nominating committee to recommend a new Staff Vice Chair.
In the event of a vacancy in the office of Staff Vice Chair, the Staff Chair shall appoint a nominating committee to recommend a new Staff Vice Chair.
In the event of a vacancy in the office of Immediate Past Staff Chair, the Staff Chair shall appoint a nominating committee to recommend a new Immediate Past Staff Chair. Eligible candidates to fill a vacancy in this office shall be limited to past Staff Chairs.
Pursuant to the NCSL Bylaws, the Executive Committee may consider the recommendations of a nominating committee to fill an elected office, if vacant, at any regular or special meeting.
Guidelines for Campaigning for NCSL Staff Office or Membership on the Executive Committee
A candidate for election to a staff office of the Executive Committee must be a full-time employee of a state legislature or work in a position that the legislative leadership considers full-time legislative employment as evidenced by correspondence to the staff chair.
The Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee recognizes that staff who seek election to a staff office or the Executive Committee have legitimate reasons for advancing their candidacy among their staff colleagues and members of the staff nominating committee. At the same time, the LSCC discourages activity that has the appearance of being unprofessional, provides one candidate with advantages that may not be available to all candidates and involves undue or excessive participation of non-staff persons in the selection of staff positions. Staff running for staff office or a seat on the Executive Committee should consider the following:
A letter from the candidate should be sent to the members of the nominating committee expressing the candidate's interest in the staff office or Executive Committee. This letter should include a list of prior NCSL activities, a description of the candidate's position in home state, a statement that the person is able to travel to Executive Committee meetings and other NCSL activities at which his or her attendance may be required and any other information which the candidate believes is pertinent.
Candidates may seek support from other staff persons, either through personal contact or in writing, and request that such persons endorse their candidacy and contact members of the nominating committee on their behalf. However, requesting staff sections to formally endorse candidates is discouraged.
If a candidate is unable to appear before the nominating committee, he or she may ask another staff person to speak on his or her behalf; however, the candidate should not ask another person to appear on his or her behalf if the candidate is able to address the nominating committee directly.
Campaign buttons, placards, banners and similar paraphernalia are discouraged. Receptions or other "meet the candidate" functions should be restricted to those designated and sponsored by NCSL.
Designation of a "campaign manager" or other surrogate should be avoided.
Selection of Staff Nominating Committee
The staff nominating committee shall consist of 7 members and a first and a second alternate appointed by the staff chair, with the advice and consent of the staff members of the Executive Committee. Alternates shall receive materials that have been provided to the members. An alternate shall attend and participate in the deliberations of the staff nominating committee only if a member of the committee is unable to serve as determined by the chair of the committee.
The staff chair shall not make appointments to the nominating committee contingent upon support of a candidate.
In making appointments to the nominating committee, the staff chair shall appoint at least one past staff chair and at least two other members who have served on the Executive Committee. The staff chair should appoint one member who served on a previous nominating committee. The staff chair should consider representation of staff sections, gender, minorities, previous service to NCSL and region but not be bound by formal rotation, strict adherence to parity, or other specific requirements.
The NCSL staff chair should announce the formation of the staff nominating committee to consider candidates for staff officer of NCSL and membership on the Executive Committee three months prior to the annual meeting. This announcement should solicit nominations of candidates. Candidates should be encouraged to submit their own names for consideration.
The NCSL staff chair's announcement should contain information on the current and recent membership of the Executive Committee and the nominating process. It should appear in appropriate NCSL publications that have wide distribution among legislative staff and be sent to leaders of all staff sections for inclusion in their newsletters.
Declaration of Candidacy and Deadlines
Candidates for Staff Vice Chair. In order to qualify for consideration by the staff nominating committee, candidates for staff vice chair shall submit a letter of declaration of candidacy postmarked or electronically transmitted no later than 60 days before the Annual Summit.
Candidates for the Executive Committee, including members appointed to fill a prior vacancy, shall submit a letter of declaration postmarked or electronically transmitted no later than 45 days before the Annual Summit. Declarations shall be addressed to the chair of the staff nominating committee in care of the NCSL office in Denver, which shall acknowledge their receipt. All declarations shall be received prior to the applicable deadline.
Members Eligible for Another Term. NCSL staff shall prepare a letter of declaration for signature by the executive committee members who are eligible for another term on the NCSL Executive Committee. NCSL staff shall deliver the letter of declaration to the executive committee members at the Spring meeting of the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee. NCSL staff shall mail a letter of declaration to those executive committee members who are not present at the Spring meeting of the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee immediately following the meeting. The nominating committee may consider any member eligible for another term competitively, and shall invite members to interview prior to renomination if:
- the member was physically absent from two or more Executive Committee meetings within a year;
- the member was appointed to fill a prior vacancy and has not previously interviewed with the nominating committee; or
- the nominating committee wants to speak to the member about the member’s renomination for any reason.
For the purpose of determining a member's attendance at an Executive Committee meeting, the nominating committee may not consider attendance by remote or electronic participation.
If there are fewer formal declared candidates than vacancies, the staff chair shall notify the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee (LSCC) no later than 30 days before the Annual Summit that the LSCC will convene at the outset of the annual meeting and shall submit the names of additional unranked candidates to the staff nominating committee. The staff nominating committee should not consider LSCC submission as an advantage for any candidate.
The staff chair, staff vice chair, immediate past staff chair, members and alternates of the nominating committee shall not make contacts on behalf of or submit letters of support for candidates. The nominating committee should adhere to and support principles of equal opportunity and consider candidates on their individual merits without regard to race, color, creed, ancestry, sex, age, marital status, national origin, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law.
Information for Candidates and Nominating Committee
The chair of the nominating committee should acknowledge all candidates in writing and provide candidates with information that includes these procedures and any other guidelines relating to the nominating process, the current membership of the Executive Committee and the anticipated number of vacancies, and the time and place of scheduled interviews.
All letters of support for candidates should be submitted to the chair of the nominating committee in care of the NCSL Denver office postmarked or electronically transmitted no later than 15 days before the Annual Summit. Letters received after the deadline will not be considered.
The staff chair should invite all candidates and members of the nominating committee to attend the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee meeting at the outset of the annual meeting in order to familiarize them with current issues before LSCC and provide an opportunity for informal interaction.
The nominating committee and candidates should be provided with briefing documentation that explains in detail the procedures and history of membership on the Executive Committee. The staff chair and the nominating committee chair should devote particular attention to orienting nominating committee members who do not have extensive experience in the governance of NCSL.
Consideration of Candidates
All proceedings of the nominating committee shall be confidential.
The nominating committee shall interview, and competitively consider with other candidates seeking nomination, all candidates:
- For staff officer(s); and
- For the Executive Committee who:
- are not currently serving on the Executive Committee;
- were appointed to fill a vacancy on the Executive Committee, and who have not previously competitively interviewed with the nominating committee; or
- are currently serving on the Executive Committee and are eligible to continue, but who did not physically attend two or more meetings, to ascertain whether or not they should be nominated for an additional term.
The nominating committee may interview any Executive Committee members who are beginning their second or third terms for any reason, to ascertain whether or not they should be nominated for an additional term.
For the purpose of determining a member's attendance at an Executive Committee meeting, the nominating committee may not consider attendance by remote or electronic participation.
Appointed candidates will be considered in the same pool of candidates as new applicants. If an appointed candidate has served for more than six months from the date of his or her appointment, as indicated by the date of the Executive Committee’s approval of the appointment pursuant to the NCSL Bylaws, the appointed candidate shall be eligible for two more consecutive terms; if the appointed candidate has served six months or less from the appointment date, the candidate shall be eligible for three consecutive terms.
The committee shall first determine at least a standard list of questions and shall ask all candidates at least those standard questions.
The committee should give primary weight to the following factors in considering candidates:
- Authorization to travel to and fully participate in Executive Committee and other meetings.
- Previous positions in NCSL, including current or previous service on the Executive Committee.
- Record of attendance and participation in previous NCSL positions.
- Demonstrated qualities of good judgment, integrity, and leadership.
The committee should consider the following additional factors to a lesser degree:
- Staff section balance
- Geographic balance
- Staff section support
- Position held in home state.
- Support for NCSL in home state.
Letters of support may be used in conjunction with these factors.
Candidates for staff officer should be expected to have extensive knowledge and understanding of key issues facing NCSL and the role of legislative staff in the organization.
Voting shall be by written secret ballot. Votes shall be tabulated only by the NCSL staff representative present.
Notification of Nominating Committee Decisions
Candidates should furnish the chair of the nominating committee a telephone number or location where candidates can be notified during the annual meeting about decisions. The nominating committee should notify all candidates of its decisions as soon as possible and prior to making the information public. The slate prepared by the nominating committee shall be posted in a public location.
General Provisions Concerning Election and Appointment to Staff Offices
The Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee should publish a brochure describing the role of staff members of the Executive Committee and LSCC and describing the process for election of members.
The number of discretionary appointments by the staff chair to LSCC shall be limited to four plus the chair and vice chairs of the NCSL Standing Committees.
The staff chair should designate an existing member to serve as a mentor for each newly elected or appointed member of the Executive Committee.
A representative from a staff section serving on LSCC shall be an employee of a state legislature or work in a position that the legislative leadership considers full-time legislative employment.
Adopted in 1985; revised April and July 1998; January 2001; May 2003; January 2005; August 2011; May 2016; May 2018