Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff Association (RELACS)
Sarah Burkman, Senior Staff Attorney, Office of Bill Drafting and Research, Indiana Legislative Services Agency
RELACS has selected Sarah Burkman, senior staff attorney, Office of Bill Drafting and Research, Indiana Legislative Services Agency, as the recipient of the 2023 Legislative Staff Achievement Award.
Burkman has staffed the 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force and prepared interim and final reports, including the task force's legislative recommendations. She is a full-time bill drafter and has prepared most of the Uniform Commercial Code and financial institutions legislation considered by the Indiana General Assembly.
As the senior LSA attorney working on energy, telecommunications, and utilities, she has drafted most of the more complex and significant bills introduced in these areas. She has an excellent rapport with committee chairs and ranking minority members as well as the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, the Department of Financial Institutions and stakeholders interested in these topics. Her work to define “money” and the issue of Central Bank Digital Currency in statute has created language other states may wish to use as a model in the future.
She is known for her knowledge on energy, telecommunications, utilities, financial institutions, the UCC and consumer protection. She is also considered one of the most technically proficient and precise legislative drafters on the LSA staff.
Amy Mendelsohn, Senior Counsel, Legislative Reference Bureau, Pennsylvania General Assembly
RELACS has selected Amy J. Mendelsohn, senior counsel, Legislative Reference Bureau, Pennsylvania’s legislative drafting and publishing agency, as the recipient of the 2023 Legislative Staff Achievement Award.
Mendelsohn serves as a drafting attorney, manages administrative law publications and runs the bureau’s intern program. Her work toward electronic publication of Pennsylvania’s administrative law materials, modernizing legal research, reducing cost and paper distribution have had a lasting and positive impact. As a member of the Executive Team, she contributes matters of personnel, purchasing and infrastructure. As the manager of the intern program, she places and supervises Pennsylvania law students with the bureau and sister legislative agencies.
She is responsible for the publication of the State Code of Administrative Regulations, the Pennsylvania Code, the State Register and the Pennsylvania Bulletin. She maintains an operation which started more than 50 years ago, and has changed dramatically, including the need to digitize the materials for electronic publication.
She took on the coordination of the health and safety aspects of the bureau’s COVID-19 operation, including overseeing compliance with federal and state guidelines, implementing sanitization, testing, reporting and quarantine procedures. She has also designed a reconfiguration of the physical plant for spacing, physical protection, and document handling. She engages in personal communication with affected employees and faces new challenges like a pro and has helped the bureau overcome the pandemic to maintain and improve its operation and adopt new practices for legal publishing and education.
As a member of RELACS, she was instrumental in helping plan and execute the RELACS and LRL Professional Development Seminar in Harrisburg in 2018.
Special Commendation: John Snyder, Committee Staff Administrator, Legislative Research Commission, Kentucky General Assembly
The Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff Association selects John Snyder, committee staff administrator, Legislative Research Commission, Kentucky, to receive the 2023 RELACS Special Commendation Award.
Snyder has served the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission (LRC) for 34 years. He started with LRC as a program review analyst for the Program Review and Investigations Committee in 1989. He worked as an analyst for the Transportation Committee for seven years before becoming the Committee Staff Administrator (CSA).
He is a dedicated public servant whose performance upholds the highest standards of professionalism and integrity. He always displays competency, professionalism, dedication, integrity and dignity.
He serves as a mentor to new CSAs, analysts, secretaries and legislative assistants. He really cares about the future of legislative staffing and works closely with legislative intern coordinator Sheila Mason and each intern class she oversees. He has also serves as a sounding board to his peers and supervisors.
He has used the opportunities provided by NCSL to network and interact with legislative staff from other states on ways to strengthen and uphold this branch of government, and to facilitate public dialogue and civic engagement. He is a 2013 Alumnus of NCSL’s Legislative Staff Management Institute. He has been a member of the NCSL Executive Committee since 2020, is a member of NCSL’s Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee, was a general officer of the NCSL Standing Committees 2018-19 and has served NCSL and LSCC in multiple capacities since 2005.
He is the chair of the RELACS Legislative Exchange Program and has guided the committee through decisions regarding participation in the program, selection of host states and candidates and creation of a confidentiality agreement. He has been a trusted advisor to RELACS officers for many years.
His service to NCSL and the citizens of Kentucky is his legacy. He sets a high standard for professionalism and integrity.