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Article I: Name

The name of this staff association is the Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff (RELACS) of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL).

Article II: Purposes

The purposes of this staff association are to:

A. Provide a national forum to recognize the contributions of research, editorial, legal, and committee legislative staff to the legislative process.

B. Provide professional development opportunities for these staff and conduct a professional development seminar for all staff (in-person or remote) individually or in conjunction with other NCSL staff associations.

C. Improve the quality and effectiveness of staff services to state legislatures, including committee staffing, legal work, bill drafting, code revision and publishing, editing, policy analysis, and research.

D. Enhance communication and information sharing among these staff through electronic communication, a newsletter, seminars, and other means of communication.

E. Offer a forum for discussion of how these staff can better serve their legislatures.

F. Promote participation by members of the staff association in the activities of NCSL.

Article III: Staff Association Membership

Membership in RELACS is limited to legislative staff. A person employed by a member legislature of NCSL to provide research, editorial, legal, and committee staff services is a member of the staff association. Members include committee staff, attorneys, paralegals, code revisors, editors, researchers, policy analysts, and others who are engaged in bill drafting, code revision or statutory publication, legal research, administrative rules review or compilation, litigation, topical and general research, policy analysis, legislative committee staffing and other relevant services to a member legislature.

Article IV: Executive Committee

A. The executive committee of the staff association is composed of the chair; vice-chair; immediate past chair; editor of the staff association newsletter; and eight directors.

B. The executive committee shall meet at least twice each conference period. The executive committee may meet at the call of the chair during the NCSL Legislative Summit, at the staff association professional development seminar, or in conjunction with other NCSL meetings or at such other times as a majority of the voting members of the executive committee shall agree. The executive committee may conduct its meetings by any means that allow all members to simultaneously communicate with all other members whether in-person or remote, including by telephone, video conference, or any similar method. A majority of the members of the executive committee constitute a quorum for the transaction of business.

C. The executive committee shall:

  1. Prepare and cause to be presented the staff association’s programs at the NCSL Legislative Summit, the staff association professional development seminar, and other NCSL meetings as deemed appropriate by the executive committee.
  2. Develop and implement webinars and other professional development activities for members of the staff association.
  3. Keep the staff association membership informed of developments that relate to the special interests of the staff association’s members.
  4. Recommend to the staff association membership at the staff association business meeting such action as the executive committee deems appropriate.

D. The executive committee shall strongly encourage members of the staff association to apply for membership on the NCSL Executive Committee.

Article V. Officers

A. The officers of the staff association are the immediate past chair, chair, and vice-chair.

B. The chair serves a term of one conference period.

  1. The chair shall preside at meetings of the executive committee and staff association; the vice-chair shall preside in the absence of the chair. The chair has general management and control of the business and affairs of the staff association, subject to the approval of the executive committee.
  2. The chair, with approval of the executive committee, shall appoint the editor of the staff association newsletter and may create committees, appoint committee members and chairs, and assign duties as necessary to carry out the purposes of the staff association. The terms of the editor, committee members, and committee chairs run concurrently with the term of the chair. The chair is a nonvoting member of all committees of the staff association.

C. The vice-chair, who is also the chair-elect, is elected and serves as provided in article VI and becomes the chair in the next conference period. The vice-chair shall serve as the chair of the staff association awards committee.

D. The immediate past chair serves a single conference period term, which may be in addition to the two-term limit for directors.

E. The chair and vice-chair, or their designees, shall serve as the representatives of the staff association on the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee (LSCC) of NCSL and shall participate in the activities and projects of the committees of the LSCC to which they are assigned. If the chair or vice-chair is unable to attend a meeting of the LSCC, then the chair may appoint a member of the staff association to attend the meeting and represent the staff association.

Article VI. Nominations, Elections, and Vacancies

A.  No later than 90 days prior to the staff association business meeting, the chair shall appoint a nominating committee consisting of the immediate past chair who shall serve as chair of the nominating committee, the vice-chair, one director, and two other staff association members. The nominating committee shall select a slate of nominees, which it shall present at the staff association business meeting for the consideration of the membership. If the immediate past chair is unable to serve, then the executive committee shall appoint another person to chair the nominating committee.

  1. The nominating committee shall encourage members of the staff association to become candidates for the executive committee and place a notice in the staff association newsletter and through other means of communication regarding forthcoming vacancies. The notice must indicate the names of the persons serving on the nominating committee and must solicit candidates for the executive committee. The nominating committee shall implement an equitable process for evaluating candidates and shall explain that process in the notice of vacancies.
  2. The membership shall elect the vice-chair and directors for vacant seats at the staff association business meeting. Additional nominations for vice-chair and directors may be made at the staff association business meeting from the floor by the members of the staff association.

B. The vice-chair is elected for a term of one conference period and automatically succeeds the following conference period to the office of chair to serve as chair for a term of one conference period.

C. Directors are elected for a term of two conference periods and may be re-elected for a second consecutive term. To the extent practicable, the eight directors must represent staff who provide research, editorial, legal, and committee services and who are members of the staff association, including committee staff, attorneys, paralegals, code revisors, editors, researchers, and policy analysts engaged in bill drafting, code revision or statutory publication, legal research, administrative rules review or compilation, litigation, topical and general research, policy analysis, legislative committee staffing, and other relevant services to member legislature.

D. If a vacancy arises in the office of chair, then the vice-chair shall assume the office of chair and serve the remainder of that term as acting chair. The acting chair shall then succeed to the office of chair the following conference period. If a vacancy arises in the office of vice-chair for reasons other than the vice-chair advancing to serve as acting chair, then a vacancy is created in the office of chair for the next conference period. In this case, the nominating committee must nominate a candidate for chair as part of the slate of nominees for the next conference period.

E. If a vacancy arises in the office of vice-chair, then the executive committee shall appoint a person from among the directors to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term. However, the appointment is only as acting vice-chair, and does not include the chair-elect. At the next staff association business meeting, the acting vice-chair is eligible for election as chair, if there is a vacancy in the office of chair, or as vice-chair for the ensuing conference period.

F. If a vacancy arises in the office of director, then the chair, with the approval of the executive committee, shall appoint a person to fill the vacancy for the remainder of the term.

G. If vacancies arise in both the offices of chair and vice-chair, then the executive committee shall appoint from among the current directors and the immediate past chair an acting chair and an acting vice-chair, who shall serve the remainder of the terms. The acting chair and acting vice-chair are eligible to run for their respective offices at the next election and must be included on the slate presented to the membership at the next staff association business meeting.

H. If a member of the staff association is appointed to fill a vacancy as a director on the executive committee and the remainder of the term is one conference period or less, then the member remains eligible for election to two consecutive full terms. If the remainder of a term to which a member is appointed as a director is greater than one conference period, then the member is considered to have served one full term and is eligible for election to serve one additional term.

Article VII: Staff Association Business Meeting; Voting; Amendment of Bylaws

A. The staff association shall hold its staff association business meeting in conjunction with the NCSL Legislative Summit, or in conjunction with another meeting (in-person or remote) as deemed appropriate by the executive committee. The chair shall preside at the staff association business meeting, and the chair of the nominating committee shall conduct staff association elections. In the absence of the chair, the vice-chair shall preside.

B. Legislative staff who are eligible for membership in the staff association are eligible to vote. Business that requires approval of the staff association requires approval of a majority of the staff association members attending the staff association business meeting.

C. An amendment to these bylaws requires a two-thirds vote of the members present and voting during the staff association business meeting at which the amendment is presented. The amendment must be submitted to the executive committee at least 30 days before the staff association business meeting at which it is to be considered for the purpose of review and the executive committee’s recommendation to the staff association.

D. The members of the staff association shall be notified of proposed amendments to the staff association bylaws through the staff association newsletter, on the staff association web page, on listservs, or through e-mail announcements to all members on the membership list. The notification shall be provided at least 15 days before the staff association business meeting and must include a copy of the current bylaws and of all proposed changes. The staff association must consider all amendments that are properly submitted and noticed as provided in this article at the staff association business meeting. Unless otherwise stated, approved amendments to the bylaws take immediate effect.

E. The executive committee may call a special meeting of the full membership to take up issues relating to the amendment of bylaws at the staff association professional development seminar.

F. The staff association’s conference period begins on adjournment of the staff association business meeting and continues until the adjournment of the following staff association business meeting.

Adopted 8/11/2016; amended 8/1/2022.

The RELACS Executive Committee represents its membership of research, editing, legal, bill drafting, code revision and publishing, policy analysis, and committee staff.

Officers
Chair Vice Chair
Erica Warren
Assistant Reviser of Statutes
Legislative Research Commission
Kentucky
Rachel Weiss
Research Analyst
Legislative Services Division 
Montana
Secretary/Newsletter Editor Immediate Past Chair
Staci Duros
Legislative Analyst
Legislative Reference Bureau
Wisconsin

Jamie Shanks
Legislative Attorney
Office of Legal Services

Tennessee

Directors

2024

2023

First Term Expires

Second Term Expires

Susanna Groves
Deputy Director for Research

Office of the Budget Director

Council of the District of Columbia

Betsy Howerton
Deputy Legislative Counsel
Office of Legislative Counsel
Georgia General Assembly

Brian Heinze
Attorney Analyst
House Budget & Research Office
Georgia

Matt Gehring
Staff Coordinator
MN House Research Department

Stacy Saechao
Deputy Legislative Counsel
Legislative Counsel
California

Brett Ferguson
Attorney
Texas Legislative Council

 

Michael Queensland
Senior Staff Attorney
Legislative Council
Wisconsin Legislature

First Term Expires 2023  
Lara Disney
Senior Editor
Legislative Service Office
Idaho
 
 

Committees

Program Planning Committee

The committee identifies session content and activities for RELACS sessions at the NCSL Legislative Summit, the fall Professional Development Seminar and webinars. This committee also locates speakers, and conducts other tasks that contribute to the success of the Research, Editorial, Legal, and Committee Staff meetings and webinars. Committee members' term of office: September 2022 to August 2023

Chair: Brett Ferguson (Texas)
Vice Chair: Betsy Howerton (Georgia)

  • Jennifer Jackson (Texas)
  • Jessie Pringle (Kansas)
  • Christina Kilduff
  • Elizabeth Taylor (South Carolina)
  • Brandon White (Kentucky)
  • Susanna Groves (D.C.)
  • Tom Bottern (Minnesota)
  • Antony LePage (Missouri)
  • Michael Duchek (Wisconsin)
  • Matthew Coke (Hawaii)
  • Taylor Lord (Arkansas)
  • Amy Haydt (California)
  • Sean Williams (Minnesota)
  • Jennifer Sturm (Nevada)
  • Kylah E. Aull (North Dakota)
  • Tricia Hines (Oklahoma)
  • John Williams (Tennessee)

Webinar Subcommittee

This subcommittee will focus on planning webinars for RELACS members and report back to the Program Planning Committee. Committee members' term of office: September 2022 to August 2023.

Chair: Daniela Lopez-Garcia (California)
Vice Chair: Dillon Cornett (Nebraska)

  • Mark Kuster (Texas)
  • Mark Cutrona (Delaware)
  • Zach Brown (Tennessee)
  • Kristen Fraser (Washington)
  • Janine Coy (Kentucky)

RELACS Report Editorial Board

The Editorial Board reviews article submissions for The RELACS Report and encourages legislative staff to submit articles. Committee members' term of office: September 2022 to August 2023.

Chair: Staci Duros (Wisconsin)
Vice Chair: Wendy Jackson (Wisconsin)

  • Melissa McQueen (Kentucky)
  • Olivia Johnson (Idaho)
  • Lara Disney, vice chair (Idaho)
  • Christopher Overath (Texas)

RELACS Exploratory Committee—Mentorship Program

This committee looks for ways RELACS members may mentor new members or newer legislative staff. Committee members' term of office: September 2022 to August 2023.

Chair: Matt Gehring (Minnesota)
Vice Chair: Misty Freeman (Oregon)

  • Mark Kuster (Texas)
  • Jennifer Black Hans (Kentucky)
  • Stephanie Little (Louisiana)
  • Wendy Jackson (Wisconsin)
  • Staci Duros (Wisconsin)
  • Sharon Eubanks (Colorado)
  • Brenda Tapley (California)

RELACS Exploratory Committee—Legislative Exchange Program

This committee identifies reasonable costs and criteria for awarding speaking stipends or comp registrations for selected faculty at future meetings. Committee members' term of office: September 2022 to August 2023.

Chair: John Snyder (Kentucky)
Vice Chair: Michael Queensland (Wisconsin)

  • Rachel Weiss (Montana)
  • Jamie Shanks (Tenessee)
  • Christopher Edwards (Ohio)
  • Brian Heinze (Georgia)
  • Stacy Saecheo (California)
  • Angie Morgan (South Carolina)

Nominations

This committee seeks nominations to the RELACS Executive Committee from the full membership. Nominees must have support from their leadership or director in order to serve. The Nominations Committee reviews nominees and selects a slate of candidates for election at the NCSL Legislative Summit each summer.

Chair: Jamie Shanks (Tennessee)
Vice Chair: Rachel Weiss (Montana)

Awards

This committee seeks nominations to receive the annual Legislative Staff Achievement Award (LSAA). This committee also may choose a recipient to receive a special commendation award. Recipients are presented their awards at the RELACS Business Meeting at the NCSL Legislative Summit.

Chair: Rachel Weiss (Montana)

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