Background and History:  NCSL's Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee (LSCC) 

November 2012


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Purpose and Organization

The purposes of the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee (LSCC) are to oversee the legislative staff division of NCSL, to coordinate the work of the staff sections and networks of NCSL, to promote professional development of legislative staff, and to review and evaluate NCSL services to legislative staff. LSCC serves in an advisory capacity to the NCSL Executive Committee.

The LSCC is made up of the three Executive Committee staff officers, the 16 at-large legislative staff members elected to the NCSL Executive Committee, the two staff co-chairs and four staff vice chairs of the NCSL Standing Committees, two officers of each of the ten staff sections, and four discretionary appointees of the Staff Chair.

NCSL currently recognizes the following 10 staff sections and two networks:

History of the Committee

LSCC began as the Special Committee on Legislative Staff Organization established by resolution of the NCSL Executive Committee in 1974 "to define the role and mission of staff in the National Conference of State Legislatures."  Since that time, under various names, there has been a committee of legislative staff members that has performed these functions. The name, Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee, was adopted in 1984.

Following is a brief history of LSCC and its predecessors.  Hyperlinks are provided to major policies and products of LSCC.

In 1975 the Special Committee on Legislative Staff Organization reached a consensus on the following:

  • Staff sections are encouraged to develop joint programs wherever appropriate at the NCSL Annual Meeting. 
  • The vitality of the various staff sections should be encouraged, but further functional fragmentation should be discouraged. 
  • There should be no specific representation accorded by staff section on the NCSL Executive Committee. 
  • A permanent coordinating committee on staff organization is necessary.

The committee adopted the following motion: "The Special Committee on Legislative Staff Organization expresses concern at an unhealthy trend for legislative staff members of NCSL to over-segment and over-organize as staff sections, and perhaps, in doing so, tend to concentrate too much on their more narrow areas and not enough on the general aspects of serving as staff for state legislatures and the legislative branch of government as an institution."

The Special Committee was renewed by resolution of the NCSL Executive Committee in Kansas City in 1976. The committee was requested to provide guidance to the Executive Committee on criteria for establishment of staff sections and functional differentiation, and to provide continued guidance for Annual Meeting and training programs and the development of services for legislative staff within NCSL.

In 1977 the Special Committee on Legislative Staff Organization made the following recommendation to the NCSL Executive Committee:

[that] The NCSL Executive Committee establish a standing Committee on Staff Division Activities to promote coordination among staff sections and to study and make recommendations to the NCSL Executive Committee on criteria and procedures for staff section formation; activities of the Staff Division; the Annual Meeting; and such other responsibilities as may be assigned by the Executive Committee. It is recommended that the Committee on Staff Division Activities consist of the 14 staff members of the NCSL Executive Committee and 16 additional members, to include at least one representative from each staff section, to be appointed by the NCSL Staff Vice-President.

The Executive Committee unanimously approved this recommendation. The basic form and purpose has remained the same since that time, although the size of the committee has changed from year to year.  In 1984 the name was changed to the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee (LSCC).

Major Projects of LSCC

Annual Meeting

Each year, a program for legislative staff has been developed by LSCC with the intention of providing a central focus and a theme of interest to the various specializations within legislative staff.  LSCC also reviews the time available for staff section programs and coordinates staff section work with other Annual Meeting activities.  In the mid-2000s, LSCC began organizing and sponsoring "mega sessions" -- programs of mutual  interest to all legislative staff.  The mega sessions evolved into the current Legislative Staff University.  Another staff plenary session serves as a tribute to legislative staff

Professional Development

LSCC has encouraged the development of both specialized and general training sessions for legislative staff.  Most of the staff sections hold annual training seminars separate from the NCSL Annual Meeting. In 1981 NCSL held the first senior staff seminar dealing with management issues under the direction of the LSCC. This Management Development Seminar was conducted annually until 1994.  In 1997 LSCC revived the management development seminar as a Seminar for Legislative Staff Executives (SLSE) with a modified focus.  SLSE was conducted in 1997, 1999, 2001 and 2003.  SLSE was revived and held as the Senior Management Leadership Seminar (SMLS) in 2007, but has since not been conducted in that format.

In 1982 a skills training seminar for junior staff was inaugurated and was conducted annually until 2005.  Beginning in 1984 LSCC published an annual brochure Professional Opportunities for Legislative Staff.  Since the mid 1990s this information on professional development seminars has been published online only.

During 1989 LSCC developed the Legislative Staff Management Institute, an executive management training program designed specifically for senior level legislative staff, in conjunction with the Humphrey Institute of Public Policy at the University of Minnesota.  The first Legislative Staff Management Institute was held at the Humphrey Institute in July 1990, and has been conducted every year since.  In 2004 LSCC re-bid the contract for LSMI and transferred the program to the University of Southern California Sacramento Center and Sacramento State University, where the Institute has continued annually since 2005.

LSCC developed recommendations for ways for NCSL to improve services to legislators' individual staff and district staff.including development of a training track for district staff and individual staff (2005 forward).  It prepared and distributed guides and a web site to promote e-learning technology (2007-08).

New Staff Sections

The committee has often dealt with the creation of new staff sections and whether further specialization is desirable.  In 1976 criteria for new staff section organization were established.  In 1978 new staff sections were proposed for computer applications and administrative rules.  After prolonged consideration, a computer applications group was recognized as a new staff section in 1979, while the proposed section on administrative rules was rejected for failure to meet the established criteria.  In the process of considering these applications, the LSCC revised the criteria for new staff sections.  In 1984 the Post Audit section was found to have become inactive and staff section status was withdrawn.  During this review, LSCC established criteria for the dissolution of staff sections.  In 1990, the Legislative Education Staff Network was recognized as an informal network of legislative staff that would meet in conjunction with other NCSL meetings.  The Legislative Health Staff Network was recognized on a similar basis in 1994 but was inactive until 2009 when it renewed activities.  A new staff section, Legislative Information and Communications (LINCS), was approved by the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee and the NCSL Executive Committee in 1999.  In conjunction with the approval of LINCS, LSCC prepared Rules for Creating New Staff Sections (1998-1999).

Information Technology

LSCC has continually led or monitored NCSL’s development of information technology services for legislative staff.  The committee established a task force on statute retrieval to evaluate the role that NCSL should take in the development of multi-state statutory data bases and to make recommendations concerning public access to legislative data bases (1987).  It reviewed and evaluated NCSL products and services with particular attention devoted to LEGISNET, the State Issues survey, the Legislative Staff Directory, and the computer bulletin board (1986-91).

Beginning in 1995 and continuously ever since, LSCC has monitored and provided guidance for NCSL’s electronic information services, the NCSL website and TiMSS (TMA Resources, Inc. Integrated Member Services Solution, which has since become Personify).  In 1999 LSCC created the Multi-state Legislative Document Management Project to allow legislatures to share bills and drafts, which eventually led to the recommendation that NCSL contract with StateNet to create the 50-state Bill Information Service in 2007.

The Legislative Institution and its Management

LSCC has conducted multiple projects designed to bring to bear the knowledge and expertise of senior legislative staff from across the country on the strengthening of legislatures, with particular attention to the management of legislative staff.  LSCC prepared background papers and adopted an equal employment opportunities statement for LSCC and recommendations on affirmative action and minority recruitment for legislative staff in 1984 and published Embracing Diversity, a booklet of tips for legislative managers to enhance diversity in the workforce (2001).

LSCC prepared and published a model code of conduct for legislative staff (1994-95).  It developed a self-assessment guide for legislative staff managers (1989-90; updated in 2001), which became the NCSL Self-Assessment Survey for Legislative Staff Organizations in 2012.  LSCC supported and reviewed national surveys of the demographics, roles and attitudes of legislative staff in1999-2000, 2006, 2009 and 2012.  It prepared and published A Guide for Writing a State Legislative Personnel Manual and Succession Planning in the Legislative Workplace (2005).

LSCC developed scenarios for the future of state legislatures and a process that an individual legislature could use for its own futures planning (1998-2001).  In 2008-09 LSCC reviewed the futures planning documents and broadened the focus to include the issues of the separation of powers and the importance of nonpartisan staffing for legislatures. 

LSCC sponsored two pre-annual meeting seminars on legislative information technology and developed a guide to state legislative technology applications (1994-95).

Other Projects

LSCC has conducted a variety of special projects including the following:
  • Engaged in an extensive review of the nominating procedures by which legislative staff members are nominated for service on the NCSL Executive Committee and adopted guidelines to be followed by candidates for NCSL staff office or membership on the Executive Committee (1985, 1993 and 2011).

  • Adopted criteria for staff participation in the work of Assembly on Federal Issues (AFI) committees(1985) and completed an extensive review of the Assembly on State Issues (ASI) and the role of staff in that organization (1996-97).  The AFI and ASI merged into the NCSL Standing Committees in 2002, with each committee having legislator and legislative staff co-chairs and vice chairs.

  • Reviewed the role of NCSL and legislative staff in assisting the development of foreign legislatures and prepared a guide for legislative staff for hosting international delegations (1991-95).

  • Prepared recommendations for state legislatures on citizenship education programs (1992) and developed ideas for a state legislative fellowship program and a national competition for public schools on state and local government (1994).

  • Conducted a strategic planning process for the role of legislative staff within NCSL with special attention devoted to the resources and support provided to the staff sections (1994-97) and published Blue Prints for Progress, a compilation of reports from LSCC task forces for the future work of LSCC.  The major elements of these plans have since been incorporated into NCSL’s overall strategic plan.

  • Developed a legislative careers website and a series of eleven videos that illustrate the types of work and job opportunities available to those interested in starting a legislative staff career.

Posted May 8, 1998
Updates:  November 29, 1999; updated August 13, 2004; December 8, 2009; November 2012.