Newsmakers | May-June 2019


Who's Making News Under the Domes


MICHAEL E. BUSCH (D), THE LONGEST-SERVING SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE OF DELEGATES, died in April following several health challenges. He was 72. Busch was first elected in 1986 and became speaker in 2003. “He cared for every corner of the state but never forgot about the people he was elected to represent,” Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller (D) said in a statement. Delegates elected Adrienne Jones (D) to replace Busch. Jones is the 107th speaker and the first African American and the first woman to serve in the role. She has served in the House since 1997 and as speaker pro tem since 2003.


SENATOR NICOLE CANNIZZARO (D) WAS ELECTED UNANIMOUSLY TO REPLACE KELVIN ATKINSON (D) as majority leader, following Atkinson’s resignation. Cannizzaro is the first woman to serve in that role and will lead a female-majority chamber.


SENATE PRESIDENT PRO TEM BRENT HILLS (R) TOOK A VOLUNTEER VACATION TO VIETNAM IN APRIL to work at a school for deaf children, help build a home for an elderly widow and teach some English. “The short time I spent away from Idaho, in a country I grew up despising, not only taught me to cherish the people there but also deepened my love for Idaho. I needed to be reminded again how blessed we are and, for a time at least, I will feel more grateful, smile more often, serve more willingly and love more compassionately.”


AT 30 YEARS OLD, REPRESENTATIVE LEE CHATFIELD (R) IS THE NATION'S YOUNGEST SPEAKER and one of the youngest in his state’s history. He was first elected to the House in 2014 and earlier served as speaker pro tempore.


ALFRED “BUTCH” SPEER, CLERK OF THE HOUSE, PLANS TO RETIRE IN JANUARY 2020. Speer is a past NCSL staff chair (1995-96) and past president of the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries. He currently chairs the 2020 Mason’s Manual Commission.


JEFFREY A. FINCH, DEPUTY CLERK OF THE HOUSE FOR MORE THAN 25 YEARS, RETIRED IN APRIL. Finch was active in the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries and served on the 2010 Mason’s Manual Commission.

North Carolina

CAROL SHAW, PRINCIPAL PROGRAM EVALUATOR FOR THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, WILL RETIRE IN JULY after more than 35 years. She served on NCSL’s Executive Committee and was active with the National Legislative Program Evaluation Society.


“There may be some religious objections. We certainly don’t want anybody made to do it. But it does keep the pledge in our schools.”

—House Majority Leader Nathaniel Ledbetter (R) on a bill that would require schools to start the day with the Pledge of Allegiance, from


“We are caging the poor and the homeless, not for their crimes, but for their poverty.”

—Representative Leslie Herod (D) on legislation she sponsored with Representative Matt Soper (R) to eliminate cash bail for minor offenses, including having an open container, trespassing or shoplifting less than $50 worth of goods.


“My life will never be the same as it was before the day Ariel died. I’m so grateful to everyone who has worked on this bill.”

—Senator Chris Eaton (D), whose daughter died from a heroin overdose, on a bill to increase fees on makers of addictive prescription drugs, in the Minneapolis Star Tribune.


“You will hear this is a hate bill. There is not any hate in it. It is intended to be the opposite. It is to protect Montana citizens.”

—Representative Kenneth Holmlund (R) on a “sanctuary city” bill to prevent local governments from refusing to enforce federal immigration law, in USA Today.

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