The NCSL Blog

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The traditions and customs of America’s legislatures have evolved and been nurtured for two centuries and are every bit as vital to their functioning as the deliberations over bills.

Placeholder: Arkansas legislature meeting in basketball arenaMuch of what lawmakers do is honed by personal contact, by nuance and language that both shapes debate and moderates conduct.

Never in the nation’s history has the legislative process been strained so much as by the current pandemic.

Alan Greenblatt, a senior staff writer with Governing and a keen observer of the legislative process, sorts through the challenges of legislating in an unprecedented time in “Legislative Leaders Pivot to Non-Virus Challenges in a Spirit of Cooperation" in State Legislatures magazine, now available as an online publication.

“I was dumb enough to think I had an idea of what I needed to do. There is no playbook. You go with the flow and figure it out,” Indiana House Speaker Todd Huston tells Greenblatt.

Greenblatt sketches lawmakers’ experiences passing legislation, handling constituent services, working from home (or a hockey arena), dealing with governors, campaigning and much more.

“We’re all trying find our way about what decisions need to be taken through executive authority and what should be worked through legislation,” adds Minnesota House Speaker Melissa Hortman.

Find this story and much more in State Legislatures, now a digital magazine, offering you daily updates in addition to the unbiased, balanced articles on policy trends and hot topics we’ve produced for the last 45 years. You will find links to a variety of NCSL products, including blogs, podcasts, webinars and NCSL Today, our daily pick of the best state news articles. And, twice a year, be sure to look out for a special keepsake print edition of the magazine in your mailbox. Let us know what you think!

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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.