By Jon Heining
Congratulations to all my colleagues across the country whose sessions have completed or are about to wrap up.
Some of us are still at it.
As you read this, we in Texas will have about another month to go before we finish, assuming, of course, that we get our work done. Now, as my legislature enters its busiest and most dramatic period, the true value of legislative staff becomes apparent.
Calendars are simply too long for legislators to be familiar with every piece of legislation they are asked to consider, so staff stay late into the night working to understand those bills and the issues behind them.
When legislators have questions, we policy specialists, auditors, finance experts, lawyers and program analysts are often the only ones who can ensure they have the tools needed to represent their constituents effectively.
Clerks and secretaries are crucial, as they ensure that the appropriate processes are followed. The communications staff and librarians are vital in informing the public about the work of the legislature.
And, when emotions run high, our sergeants-at-arms ensure that the public doesn’t have too much say about what the legislature does. Behind it all are the information technology staff, whose primary goal at this time of session is to go unnoticed—because if you see them, then something has gone very, very wrong.
Regardless of your role, the work is often hard, sometimes tedious and usually thankless. But, most of all, it’s important. Thank you for doing it.
During Legislative Staff Week, NCSL spotlights you. We celebrate your contributions, appreciate your hard work and encourage you to get involved in NCSL. This is your organization.
And remember, these NCSL resources are available year-round to all staff:
We have a lot more in the works for the rest of the year. Get involved and make NCSL work for you!
Jon Heining is general counsel with the Texas Legislative Council.