By Holly South
More than 200 clerks, secretaries and staff members from around the country and overseas convened in Madison, Wis., this fall for the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries’ (ASLCS) annual Professional Development Seminar. This year marks the 75th anniversary of ASLCS, the oldest of NCSL’s nine staff professional associations.
Sessions were wide-ranging—from civic education to cross-training to technology initiatives—and bookended by the opening plenary on managing energy and stress and the closing plenary on the thornier issues of parliamentary procedure addressed by Mason’s Manual. International attendees from Australia, Canada and Palau sat on a panel to discuss the role of clerk in their legislative bodies.
A major draw of the PDS is the chance to explore a new state capitol, so a highlight of event was the time spent in the beautiful Wisconsin statehouse—one of 20 current state capitols designated at as National Historic Landmarks—for tours of the Capitol dome, staff breakout meetings, and the presentation of a joint citation by the Wisconsin State Legislature to ASLCS in honor of its 75th anniversary. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) and Assembly Speaker (and NCSL President-Elect) Robin Vos (R) presented the citation to the society in the Assembly chamber.
WHEREAS, the society is rich with history, honor, pride and knowledge. Each one of its members can attest to the fact that ASLCS is an extended branch of family, who work together to grow, support, strive to improve, and encourage each other to be the best they can be in their official capacities; and…
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the members of the Wisconsin Legislature, on the motion of Representative Robin Vos, Speaker of the Assembly, and Senator Scott L. Fitzgerald, Senate Majority Leader, do hereby congratulate the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries on the celebration of its 75th Anniversary, and wish them continued success and growth for the future.
Read the full text here.
The end of the six-day conference also marked a change in leadership, with 2017-2018 President Robert Haney, chief clerk of the Texas House of Representatives, handing over the gavel at the state dinner to incoming President Patrick Harris, secretary of the Alabama Senate. Haney referred to his presidency as “a high point for me in the 26 years I have participated in the legislative process.”
Harris said upon being installed as president, “I am proud to represent this society because of the hidden value it provides, not just to its member clerks and secretaries, and not just to the lawmakers we all serve in our home states and territories.
"I love this group because of its importance to all the taxpayers and citizens we represent. Through the connections, friendships, and shared knowledge represented in this room, citizens in all states and territories can trust that their lawmaking process will run according to established principles in the most fair, honest and open way possible.”
He continued, “You can call anybody in this room, any time, and they’ll do whatever they can to help. That’s the true value and importance of this society: our friendships and the commonality of what we all do.”
Holly South is a policy specialist in NCSL’s Legislative Staff Services Program and serves as the NCSL liaison to the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries (ASLCS). ASLCS is one of nine professional staff associations at NCSL.