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History

The American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries (ASLCS) was founded in 1943 to improve legislative administration and to establish better communication between clerks and secretaries throughout the United States and its territories. In 1974, ASLCS joined with several state legislative groups to form the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). From small beginnings, the Society has grown to include an active membership of more than four hundred principal clerks and secretaries and legislative support staff. Today, the Society is the most active of NCSL's nine staff sections.

Purposes and Functions

ASLCS was created to provide an effective forum for solving professional problems common to legislative clerical officers and their staffs. Legislative clerks and secretaries and their staff members work in a unique environment for which little formal training is available. ASLCS works to fulfill these training needs. ASLCS training programs concentrate on:

  • Improving the administrative and parliamentary effectiveness of state legislatures.

  • Developing procedures for enhancing the lawmaking function.

  • Improving the skills and professionalism of employees in the offices of clerks and secretaries.

  • Increasing understanding of the roles and relationships among different staff activities and responsibilities.

  • Providing a forum in which clerks and secretaries can meet and learn from one another.

One major accomplishment of the society is the revision of the Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure. At the invitation of NCSL, a special commission of ASLCS was established in 1984. The 1989 edition of Mason's is the most widely used manual of parliamentary procedure in state legislatures. The commission continues within the Society. Another revised publication is planned at the end of the decade, based upon changes in case law and parliamentary practice.

Membership and Operations

The society's membership is made up of the elected or appointed legislative clerks and secretaries in the 50 states and the possessions and territories of the U.S. Associate members are legislative employees designated by the principal clerks and secretaries from the personnel in their offices. Any former member may maintain an associate level membership. Associates make up the largest segment of the society's membership. The society's operations are governed by its bylaws and standing orders under the guidance of the Executive Committee, and most of the work of the society is done in committees. The society convenes three times a year, at the spring business meeting, NCSL Legislative Summit and the fall Professional Development Seminar.

International Relations

ASLCS has supportive working relations with its counterparts in:

  • Canada: Association of Clerks-at-the-Table in Canada (CATT)
    • ​2021 Annual Meeting: Summer 2021 (exact dates and location TBD)
  • Mexico: Association of Chief Clerks of Mexico's State Legislatures and the Federal District of Mexico (ANOMAC)
    • ​2021 Annual Meeting: Fall 2021 (exact dates and location TBD)
  • Central America: Association of Central American Legislative Clerks (ATELCA), which includes Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, and Panama
  • Australia and New Zealand: Australia and New Zealand Association of Clerks-at-the-Table (ANZACATT)
    • 2023 Annual Meeting: Jan. 23-25, Hosted by the Parliament of Victoria
  • South Africa: Secretaries' Association of the Legislatures of South Africa (SALSA)

 

Article I

NAME – The name of the organization shall be “The American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries.”

PURPOSE – The purpose of the Society shall be to improve the administrative and parliamentary effectiveness of State Legislatures and to develop better procedures for enhancing the lawmaking function.

ASLCS SEAL – The Seal of the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries shall be a circle with a white center section and an outer band of dark blue.

Within the white center section shall be a gavel and quill device outlined in gold and filled with dark blue. A dark blue horizontal line across the center section shall appear directly under the gavel and quill. The phrase “founded 1943” shall appear beneath the horizontal line.

Across the top third of the outer band of dark blue shall be the words “American Society” in gold bordered on each side by gold stars. On the bottom two thirds of the outer band shall be the words “Legislative Clerks and Secretaries” in gold.

MEMBERS – The membership shall be composed of the duly elected or appointed Legislative Clerks and Secretaries of the fifty states and the insular possessions and territories of the United States of America.

Legislative employees designated by the Clerks and Secretaries may be Associate members upon payment of annual dues. The names of Associate members shall be submitted in writing by the appropriate appointing authority to the Secretary-Treasurer of the Society and shall be officially recorded. An Associate member shall remain a member until such time as the appointing authority or a successor shall order in writing that the name of the Associate member be removed from the record or annual dues are not paid. Any former member of the Society may maintain an associate membership by notifying the Secretary-Treasurer and paying yearly dues at the Associate level. Associate members shall be non-voting members except as provided in (b) below.

A voting member shall be one of the following:

(a) the duly elected or appointed Clerk and Secretary of each legislative body of the fifty states and the insular possessions and territories of the United States of America; and

(b) one Associate member of each legislative body of the fifty states and the insular possessions and territories of the United States of America, determined by using the following criteria, in the order listed:

(1) an Associate member of the Executive Committee, or

(2) an Associate member as designated by the appropriate Clerk or Secretary.

VOTING – Each legislative body of the fifty states, the insular possessions and the territories shall have two votes, which shall be cast by the voting members of that body, or a proxy from that body by the Chief Clerk or Secretary. The Executive Committee shall determine the appropriate method by which proxies are appointed.

FORMER MEMBERS – Any former member of the Society may maintain membership in the Society by notifying the Secretary-Treasurer and paying the required annual dues. A former member may not vote, serve on a committee or commission, receive a scholarship or financial support, or in any other way participate in the official business of the Society.

DUES – Dues shall be annually assessed of all Principal, Associate and former members in amounts to be determined by the Executive Committee.

Article II

MEETING OF MEMBERS – The annual business meeting of the Society shall be held at such time and place as shall be designated by the Executive Committee. On the day of the scheduled meeting, the President shall call the meeting to order at the designated time. The minutes of the previous meeting shall be read and approved and such business transacted as may properly come before such meeting.

There shall be mailed to each member of the Society, at least thirty days prior to the annual business meeting, a notice setting the time and place of the meeting. In case a quorum of the members eligible to vote is not present, the regularly called meeting shall be adjourned to the next day of the Society's scheduled meeting at a time set by the members present and registered, at which time those voting members present and registered shall constitute a quorum for all purposes.

Article III

OFFICERS – The officers for the Society shall include a President, President-elect, Secretary-Treasurer, and the Elected-Principal member of the Executive Committee, all of whom shall be Clerks or Secretaries, an Associate Vice-President, an Associate Vice-President-elect, and an elected Associate member of the Executive Committee, who shall be Associate members from the office of a Clerk or Secretary.

The President shall preside at all meetings of the Society and of the Executive Committee and shall have general control over the affairs of the Society, subject to the approval of the Executive Committee, and shall sign all certificates and other instruments for the Society.

The President-elect shall: have responsibility for depositing copies of the current Bylaws, Standing Orders, and Index with the staff liaison of the National Conference of State Legislatures, unless otherwise ordered by the Society; perform such duties as may be assigned by the Executive Committee, and shall, in case of death, disability, or absence of the President, be vested with all the powers and perform all the duties of the President.

The Secretary-Treasurer shall: keep accounts of all monies of the Society received or disbursed; sign all checks for the payment of money; have responsibility for depositing copies of programs and proceedings of all meetings with the staff liaison of the National Conference of State Legislatures unless otherwise ordered by the Society; countersign all certificates and other instruments for the Society; keep a record of all votes and minutes of the proceedings of all membership and Executive Committee meetings; give notice as required in the Bylaws of all meetings of the Society and the Executive Committee; and have custody of all books, records, and papers of the Society.

TERM – Society officers shall serve a single-year term in office. In the event of failure to fill any office by election at an annual business meeting, the current officeholder shall perform the duties of their office in a holdover capacity until a successor is elected. All officers must be dues-paying members.

Article IV

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE – The Executive Committee shall be composed of the elected officers of the Society; the Immediate Past President; the Immediate Past Associate Vice-President; plus four additional members, two of whom must be Associate members, elected by the Executive Committee. The President of the Society shall chair the Executive Committee.

The Executive Committee shall have authority and responsibility for the general management and control of the business affairs of the Society and shall exercise all the powers granted by the Society under its Bylaws. When adopting policies of a continuing nature, the Executive Committee shall record its actions in the form of Standing Orders. Standing Orders shall remain in effect unless amended or repealed by action of the same or a succeeding Executive Committee. It shall be the duty of the President-elect to maintain current compilations of the Bylaws, Standing Orders, and Index and shall deposit copies with the staff liaison of the National Conference of State Legislatures for information and distribution to the membership at the annual meeting.

Past Presidents and Past Associate Vice-Presidents who are dues-paying Principal or Associate members shall be ex officio members of the Executive Committee, but shall not be counted in determining a quorum nor be entitled to vote.

The Executive Committee shall be authorized to assess all members a registration fee which shall be paid as a condition for registration and participation at the annual meeting of the Society. The amount and manner of payment of such registration fee shall be determined by the Executive Committee.

Article V

MEETING OF THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE – The Executive Committee of the Society shall hold its meetings upon call by the President at such time and place as designated by the President. Seven members of the Executive Committee shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business, and in case a quorum be not present at any meeting called by the President, a less number may adjourn, from time to time, without notice other than by announcement at the meeting, until a quorum of the Executive Committee shall attend such adjourned meeting.

Article VI

NOMINATING COMMITTEE – The President each year shall appoint a Nominating Committee by no later than thirty days prior to the annual meeting. An announcement of the membership of the Committee shall accompany the annual meeting notice. Chair of the Nominating Committee shall be the Immediate Past President. If the Immediate Past President is unable to serve as Chair of the Nominating Committee, the President shall appoint a past president who is currently serving as a Principal Clerk or Secretary. In addition to the Chair, the President shall appoint one past president, two Principal Clerks or Secretaries, two Associate members (one of whom is the Immediate Past Associate Vice-President) and one at-large member. If the Immediate Past Associate Vice-President is unable to serve, the President shall appoint a Past Associate Vice-President who is currently serving as an Associate member of the Society. The Nominating Committee shall recommend to the membership persons to be elected to the offices of President-elect, Secretary-Treasurer, Elected-Principal member of the Executive Committee, Associate Vice-President, Associate Vice-President-elect, and Elected-Associate member of the Executive Committee. The name of the President-elect shall be recommended by the Nominating Committee for the office of President provided the President-elect is qualified and willing to be recommended.

Article VII

VACANCIES – In the case of death, resignation, or inability to serve of any officer or member of the Society's Executive Committee, the ranking officer shall submit to the remaining members of the Executive Committee a nomination to fill the vacancy or vacancies for the unexpired term. A majority vote of the remaining members shall confirm appointments to such vacancies.

Article VIII

AMENDMENTS OF BYLAWS – The Bylaws may be amended at any annual meeting of the Society. If a copy of proposed amendments is mailed to the membership with the official notice of the meeting, a majority vote of the members present and voting shall be required for passage. If prior notice is not given, a two-thirds vote of the members present and voting shall be required.

(September 20, 2022, Little Rock, Arkansas)

The following revised Standing Orders were adopted by the ASLCS Executive Committee on Sept. 18, 2020, pending the adoption of an amendment to the ASLCS Bylaws at the next Annual Meeting.

Additional standing orders were adopted on Dec. 15, 2020 (David Ward Scholarship) and July 12, 2021 (Budget and Financial Review Committee charges).

Preface to the Standing Orders

Upon becoming president of ASLCS in 1992, I learned many of the business practices and policies of prior Executive Committees had been passed along from year to year only by word of mouth. In most situations, word of mouth would suffice but in hard or ambiguous cases it did not. Faced with a difficult issue, presidents and Executive Committees often spent valuable time finding someone who remembered how a question had been previously addressed and why. The system of Standing Orders was conceived to solve this problem.

The Bylaws are the Society's constitution. Standing Orders bear the same relationship to our Bylaws as statutory law does to a constitution; i.e., they are a written body of policy continuing in force unless amended or repealed by act of a present or future Executive Committee.

The Standing Orders have the added benefit of fostering a more open and transparent relationship between the Executive Committee and the membership.

--John Phelps, clerk, Florida House of Representatives, July 24, 2003, San Francisco

Section I. Membership

(See Bylaws, Article I)

A. History

The American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries (ASLCS or Society) was founded in 1943 to improve legislative administration and to establish better communication between clerks and secretaries throughout the United States and its territories. Its membership is composed of Principal Clerks and Secretaries and their designated legislative employees. The Society's purpose, as stated in Article I, ASLCS Bylaws, is "to improve the administrative and parliamentary effectiveness of State Legislatures and to develop better procedures for enhancing the lawmaking function."

In 1974, ASLCS joined with several state legislative groups to form the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) to advance the effectiveness, independence, and integrity of legislatures.

B. Principal Members

Principal members of the Society are the duly elected or appointed Principal Clerks and Secretaries of each of the 50 states and the insular possessions and territories of the United States of America. A Principal Clerk or Secretary is the chief legislative officer of a legislative body.

C. Associate Members

A legislative employee designated by a Principal Clerk or Secretary may become an Associate member of the Society upon payment of annual dues. The names of Associate members shall be submitted in writing by their Principal Clerk or Secretary to the ASLCS Secretary-Treasurer and shall be officially recorded. An Associate member shall remain a member until such time as the Principal Clerk or Secretary or a successor shall order in writing that the name of the Associate member be removed from the record or annual dues are not paid.

D. Honorary Members

  1. The ASLCS Executive Committee may designate an honorary member of the Society. (January 6, 1990, Denver, CO)
  2. The Clerk of the United States House of Representatives and the Secretary of the United States Senate shall be honorary members of the Society as long as they remain in their respective offices. (July 28, 1999, Indianapolis, IN)
  3. The ASLCS President shall inform such individuals of their honorary membership upon their designation or appointment. (July 28, 1999, Indianapolis, IN; September 13, 2007, Burlington, VT)

E. Former Members

  1. Any former member of the Society may maintain membership in the Society by notifying the ASLCS Secretary-Treasurer and paying the required annual dues.
  2. Each dues-paying former member shall receive a copy of the Roster and Reference Guide (Roster) and The Legislative Administrator. A former member may not vote, serve on a committee or commission, receive a scholarship or financial support, or in any other way participate in the official business of the Society.

F. Retirement Certificates

Upon retirement, Principal and Associate members shall receive a certificate from the Society in recognition of their retirement. The President is responsible for the issuance of retirement certificates. (July 25, 1994, New Orleans, LA; April 18, 1999, Chicago, IL; July 28, 1999, Indianapolis, IN)

Section II. Voting

(See Bylaws, Article I)

A. Voting Members

Each legislative body of the 50 states and the insular possessions and territories of the United States of America shall have two votes, which shall be cast by the voting members of that body or a proxy from that body designated by the Principal Clerk or Secretary of the body under Subsection C.

The following are voting members of the Society:

  1. The duly elected or appointed Principal Clerk or Secretary of each legislative body of the 50 states and the insular possessions and territories of the United States of America; and
  2. One Associate member of each legislative body of the 50 states and the insular possessions and territories of the United States of America, determined by using the following criteria, in the order listed:
    1. An Associate member of the ASLCS Executive Committee; or
    2. An Associate member as designated by the appropriate Principal Clerk or Secretary.

B. Voting Procedures

Voting may occur at any Society business meeting, the time and place of which must be designated by the ASLCS Executive Committee.

Among the issues that may be voted on are the election of Society officers and the amendment of Society Bylaws. The following are the voting procedures for those issues:

  1. The vote on the election of Society officers is held at the annual business meeting held in conjunction with the ASLCS Professional Development Seminar (PDS). Society officers serve a one-year term. In the event of failure to fill any office at an annual business meeting, the current officeholder continues to perform the duties of their office in a holdover capacity until a successor is elected.
  2. The vote on an amendment to Society Bylaws is held at an annual meeting if the proposed amendment has been mailed to the membership with the official notice of the meeting. A majority vote of the members present and voting is required for passage. If prior notice is not given, a two-thirds vote of the members present and voting is required.

C. Voting by Proxy

A Principal member may designate a proxy to vote in the member's absence at the Society's annual business meeting at the PDS. To properly designate a proxy, the Principal member shall complete the ASLCS Proxy Form and submit it to the ASLCS Secretary-Treasurer prior to the meeting. (See Proxy Form, final page of Standing Orders)

ASLCS publishes several reference and resource books, including the Legislative Administrator, Professional Journal, Roster and Reference Guide, International Directory, Mason's Manual and Inside the Legislative Process.

The society's publications are governed by standards approved by the Executive Committee of ASLCS. The publication standards are policies adopted by the ASLCS Executive Committee that are continuing in nature. Publication Standards remain in effect unless amended by the Executive Committee.

Legislative Administrator

The Legislative Administrator is the official newsletter of the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries.

Professional Journal

The Journal provides a forum to share experiences, expertise and opinions on a variety of subjects influencing our daily working environment.

International Directory

The International Directory is an annual publication that provides an overview in English, Spanish and French of ASLCS and its international counterparts:

  • American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries (ASLCS).
  • Association of Chief Clerks of Mexico's State Legislatures and Federal District of Mexico (ANOMAC).
  • Association of Clerks-at-the-Table in Canada (CATTS).
  • Australia and New Zealand Association of Clerks-at-the-Table (ANZACATT).
  • Forum of Secretaries of South Africa.

The International Directory provides a better understanding of these associations and serves as a means of bringing the organizations closer together. The directory includes a summary of each organization and lists its current officers. The booklet is produced by the International Communication and Development Committee of ASLCS.

Inside the Legislative Process

Inside the Legislative Process is a research tool, providing information on state legislative processes and procedures. The ASLCS committee on Inside the Legislative Process is responsible for reviewing and producing this publication. The committee works closely with NCSL staff to develop survey questions and record the responses in a format that is easily usable by all legislative units and reflects current legislative processes. 

ASLCS conducts several meetings throughout each year. The following describes each meeting and discusses what types of information is presented.

Spring Meeting

The spring meeting is a meeting for the society's standing committees and Executive Committee, during which committees work on their projects and programs for the year. This meeting is held over a weekend in April or May. The location of the meeting is chosen by the ASLCS president.

Summer Meeting

The society's summer meeting is held in association with the NCSL's Legislative Summit. This meeting presents an opportunity for ASLCS to interact with other NCSL committees and staff sections. It is a four-day meeting, in late July or early August.

Fall Professional Development Seminar

Each fall, ASLCS holds its Professional Development Seminar and Annual Meeting. It consists of five days of intensive training and information exchange, designed specifically for legislative clerks and secretaries and their office staff. This meeting usually is held in September or October. The location of the meeting is determined by the ASLCS Site Selection Committee.

Winter Meeting

Since 2003, the winter meeting has been held via conference call for the ASLCS Executive Committee. It usually occurs in mid-December or early January.

Joint Canadian-American Clerk's Conference

The Joint Canadian-American Clerks' Conference is held biennially in odd-numbered years. It is hosted alternately between Canada and the United States. Unlike other society meetings, participation in this conference is limited to principal clerks and secretaries or to the principal assistant if the clerk or secretary is unable to attend. The meeting typically occurs in August or September. The location is determined by joint recommendation of the ASLCS Canadian/American Relations Committee and the Canadian Association of Clerks-at-the-Table.

2023

ASLCS Spring Business Meeting
May 5-6, 2023
Palm Springs, Calif.

NCSL Legislative Summit
Aug. 14-16, 2023
Indianapolis

ASLCS Professional Development Seminar
Sept. 24-29, 2023
Eugene, Ore.

2022

ASLCS Spring Business Meeting
April 29-30, 2022
Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

NCSL Legislative Summit
Aug. 1-3, 2022 (ASLCS committees will meet the afternoon of July 31.)
Denver

ASLCS Professional Development Seminar
Sept. 18-23, 2022
Little Rock, Ark.

NCSL Base Camp
Nov. 15-16, 2022
Online event

2021

ASLCS Spring Business Meeting
June 4-5, 2021
Boston

Joint Canadian-American Meeting - POSTPONED until 2023

NCSL Base Camp
Aug. 3-5, 2021
Online event

Fall Professional Development Seminar
Oct. 3-7, 2021
Portland, Maine

Legislative Summit
Nov. 3-5, 2021
Tampa, Fla.

2020

ASLCS Spring Business Meeting - CANCELLED
May 1-2, 2020
Hyatt Regency Cleveland at the Arcade (Room rate: $149/night)
Cleveland

Legislative Summit - CANCELLED
Aug. 10-13, 2020
Indianapolis

NCSL Base Camp
Sept. 15-17, 2020
Online event

Fall Professional Development Seminar - POSTPONED until 2021
Sept. 20-24, 2020
Portland, Maine

Staff Breakout Sessions (via Zoom)
Take your networking and problem-solving to the next level! Staff breakout sessions provide a forum where attendees can discuss specific parliamentary situations and administrative challenges. Talk to experienced colleagues, obtain helpful solutions and discuss shared experiences with your colleagues across the country.

  • Sept. 21, 2020: Principals: Contact the ASLCS president to register.
  • TSept. 22, 2020: Associates: Contact the NCSL liaison to register.

The Show Must Go On: Legislative Sessions During a Pandemic
Sept. 24, 2020, 2pm Eastern
Join ASLCS for a panel discussion via Zoom of the particular challenges–including remote participation, public access and health and safety–involved in managing a legislative session during the COVID-19 crisis. The panelists will discuss their different approaches to these issues and share lessons learned.

2019

ASLCS Spring Business Meeting
April 26-27, 2019
Wort Hotel (Room rate: $149/night)
Jackson Hole, Wyo.

Legislative Summit
Aug. 5-8, 2019
Nashville, Tenn.

Joint Canadian-American Meeting
September 3-6, 2019
Concord Holiday Inn (Room rate: $139/night; reference code CAC)
Concord, N.H.

Fall Professional Development Seminar
Sept. 22-27, 2019
Renaissance Seattle (Room rate: $229/night)
Seattle

2018

ASLCS Spring Business Meeting
April 20-22, 2018
Renaissance Charleston Historic District (Room rate: $178/night)
Charleston, S.C.

Legislative Summit
July 30-Aug. 2, 2018
Los Angeles

Fall Professional Development Seminar
Sept. 23-28, 2018
Madison Concourse Hotel (Room rate: $169/night)
Madison, Wis.

2017

ASLCS Spring Business Meeting
April 21-23, 2017
Intercontinental Hotel (Room rate: $169/night)
Kansas City, Mo.

Legislative Summit
Aug. 6-9, 2017
Boston

Fall Professional Development Seminar
Sept. 24-29, 2017
Renaissance Phoenix Downtown Hotel (Room rate: $189/night)
Phoenix

Winter Meeting
Dec. 19, 2017
12:30 p.m. Eastern

2016

ASLCS Spring Business Meeting
April 21-24, 2016
Alexandria, Va.

Legislative Summit
Aug. 8-11, 2016
Chicago

Fall Professional Development Seminar
Sept. 18-22, 2016

2015

ASLCS Spring Business Meeting
Clearwater, Fla.
May 1-3, 2015

NCSL Legislative Summit
Seattle
Aug. 3-6, 2015

Fall Professional Development Seminar
Sept. 20-25, 2015
Raleigh, N.C.

Joint Canadian American Meeting
Oct. 28-Nov. 1, 2015
Columbus, Ohio

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