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Staff Snapshots | Melissa Schmidt

May 6, 2022 | State Legislatures News | Print

Melissa Schmidt

Hometown: Fitchburg, Wis.

Role: Principal attorney, Wisconsin Legislative Council. One of my primary functions is to provide nonpartisan staff services to the Legislature’s standing committees. This includes Assembly committees, Senate committees, the Joint Committees on Audit, and study committees created by the Joint Legislative Council.

NCSL involvement: Schmidt is a 2020 graduate of the Legislative Staff Management Institute and the 2022 staff vice chair of NCSL’s Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce Committee, known as the CFI Committee.

Years of legislative service: 14 as of next month. I am also privileged to have interned with the Legislative Council while I was still in law school, and to have been awarded the Wisconsin Women in Government’s 2005 Bonnie Reese Scholarship.

 

Why did you choose to work at the legislature?

I chose to work in the Legislature because of my love of service to others and a passion to make the world around me a better place to live. It is an honor to be in a position that supports Wisconsin’s democratically elected legislators in their endeavors to make law and policy; it is a privilege to help legislators provide sound answers to their constituents’ questions. I honestly love what I do and never take for granted the supporting role that I play in the legislative process. It truly is the best job!

What skill or talent are you most proud of?

My skill as a mentor to new staffers and law student interns. It is a way that I can pay forward all the time, wisdom and opportunities other people have given me.

What’s the best advice you were ever given?

To remember that I only play one small role in the entire legislative process, and that there is always time to correct mistakes until the governor signs the bill. This was very grounding advice for me and continues to remind that I am not the most important person in the process. The world doesn’t hinge upon whether I get things right or make a mistake.

Who or what inspires you?

Where do I start and how much space do I have? I am inspired by legislators who power through long floor sessions for the good of the state. I also am inspired by my three boys, who give me the strength to be the best role model I can be to them, modeling how to be of service to others and how to make a future that we all want for our children.

What’s one thing you love about your state?

Ice cream! The Dairy State has the best ice cream. And cheese. Contrary to a certain commercial, Wisconsin does have happy cows that produce the best milk for dairy products. So, I guess my answer is both ice cream and cheese!

What are you currently reading/listening to/watching?

Well, as the mother of three young boys, I will be honest and tell you that I am currently reading anything my son’s kindergarten teacher sends home that night. I am also reading anything that is related to “Star Wars” or written by Mo Willems. Lastly, for the next three weeks in May, I am leading the law merit badge for my oldest son’s Boy Scout troop, which means that my reading list includes anything that can help me prepare to lead this fun topic.

What are some of the priorities of your NCSL Standing Committee?

Federal law related to banking, insurance, securities, and other financial services are among the most complex and difficult laws for the common person to understand. So one of the priorities that I see for the CFI Committee is information-sharing, making sure state legislators and staff receive as much information about what is happening at the federal level as possible, in a way that is easily digestible.

 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

For its “Staff Snapshots” series, State Legislatures News is asking legislative staff about their role in the legislature. If you’d like to suggest a staffer for this series, please email Holly South at NCSL.

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