The NCSL Blog

17

By Molly Ramsdell

One hundred and twenty-nine. That’s the number of years of service NCSL’s overall standing committee staff officers have in state legislatures.

And they have a message for legislative staff, new and not so new, who are not involved in the NCSL Standing Committees: Stand Up! Show Up! Speak Up! Step Up!

Stand Up! If you’re not already assigned to an NCSL standing committee, ask your boss to assign you to one. And if you are the boss, consider appointing yourself and your staff.

Show Up! Participate in NCSL meetings, either in person or virtually. The NCSL Capitol Forum, Legislative Summit, webinars and teleconferences are just some of the ways you can engage. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to learn about emerging issues, and from other legislators and staff from across the county. Your involvement can help inform and shape the policy in your state.

Speak Up! Take an active role in your standing committee. The committee is not only where NCSL’s positions on federal policies are developed, it’s where legislators and staff share best practices and network. While staff cannot vote on public policy positions, you can moderate a session, be a panelist, participate in the discussion—and most importantly—share your expertise.

Step Up! Once you’ve done all the above, consider becoming a committee officer, Legislative Staff Coordinating Council (LSCC) member, Executive Committee member, overall staff officer, or even NCSL Staff Chair. Help NCSL continue to provide the content, contacts, and continuing education we all so desire. For more information, email: dc-directors@ncsl.org.

Following is information about each of the 2017-2018 overall standing committee staff officers and their 129 years of legislative services. FYI, they are appointed by the staff chair, serve a two-year term and are charged with promoting legislative staff participation in the NCSL standing committees.

Jonathan Ball, Director, Legislative Fiscal Analyst Office, Utah | Overall Staff Co-Chair, NCSL Standing Committees
  • 20 years
  • What year did you start working for the legislature? 1998.
  • Your first NCSL meeting? Assembly on State Issues, 2002, New Orleans.
  • What is your most memorable experience with NCSL?  A Fall Forum in D.C. where special staff-only programming took us to an exclusive meeting with staff at the Congressional Budget Office. It was memorable because for the first time I realized how farcical CBO scoring is. You just assume that future savings in a 10-year window will pay for current costs! Voila! All kidding aside, I learned a ton about how Washington budget practices directly impact Utah’s budget.

transportation committee staff administrator, Kentucky

John Snyder, Committee Staff Administrator /Transportation Committee, Kentucky | Overall Staff Co-Chair, NCSL Standing Committees
  • 29 Years   
  • What year did you start working for the legislature? 1989
  • Your first NCSL meeting? 2005 Legislative Summit in Seattle.
  • What is your most memorable experience with NCSL?  Touring the levee system of New Orleans and the Ninth Ward at the Summit in 2008, getting a first-hand account of what happened with Hurricane Katrina.

Rachel Gudgel

Rachel Gudgel, Staff Director of the New Mexico Legislative Education Study Committee | Overall Staff Vice Chair, NCSL Standing Committees
  • 13 years
  • What year did you start working for the legislature? Part-time session work started in January 2005; permanent full-time staff in April 2010
  • Your first NCSL meeting? 2011 Legislative Summit in San Antonio, Texas
  • What is your most memorable experience with NCSL? Being named a staff co-chair of the standing education committee last year and getting to suggest changes to the policy directives that the chairs supported.   

Jennifer Jones

Jennifer Jones, Deputy Director, Texas Sunset Commission | Overall Staff Vice Chair, NCSL Standing Committees
  • 27 years
  • What year did you start working for the legislature? 1991 for the legislature; 1993 for the Texas Sunset Commission.
  • Your first NCSL meeting? 2000 NCSL Legislative Summit in Chicagol.
  • What is your most memorable experience with NCSL?  So many memorable experiences ... working on the P3 Toolkit, touring the Port of San Diego, seeing first-hand how cities are using technology to combat crime, participating in the UAS/drone task force, and meeting with members of Congress and their staffs about transportation funding solutions. 

Marsheilah D. Lyons

Marsheilah D. Lyons, Chief Principal Policy Analyst, Research Division, Legislative Counsel Bureau, Nevada | Overall Staff Vice Chair, NCSL Standing Committees
  • 18 years   
  • What year did you start working for the legislature? 2000.
  • Your first NCSL meeting? 2002 NCSL Legislative Summit in Denver.
  • What is your most memorable experience with NCSL? The training and mentors I gained through my involvement in the Research and Committee Staff Section, Health and Human Services Committee and the Legislative Health Staff Network have been invaluable. The Legislative Staff Management Institute was one of my most memorable training experience I have ever had.    

Phil McCarthy

Phil McCarthy, Senior Legislative Analyst, Office of Policy and Legal Analysis (OPLA) and non-partisan staff to the Joint Standing Committee on Education and Cultural Affairs, Maine | Overall Staff Vice Chair, NCSL Standing Committees
  • 22 years  
  • What year did you start working for the legislature? 1996
  • Your first NCSL meeting? 1999 Winter meeting of NCSL's Assembly on State's Issues (ASI), and concurrent Steering Committee meeting of the NCSL/ECS Legislative Education Staff Network (LESN).
  • What is your most memorable experience with NCSL?  My attendance at the 2015 NCSL Capitol Forum in Washington, D.C., and my invitation to the Dec. 10, 2015, White House ceremony where the Every Student Succeeds Act  was signed by President Barack Obama.

Molly Ramsdell is director of NCSL's Washington, D.C., office.

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About the NCSL Blog

This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.