Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee

Meeting Summary

Tucson, Arizona
January 30, 2009

Gary VanLandingham opened the meeting and commented on the difficult times facing legislative staff with travel restrictions. At the same time, he noted this provides opportunities to develop e-learning options to complement meetings. Gary said that NCSL has contracted for a new webinar service through Infinite, and that staff section officers would begin using the service on a monthly basis, with subcommittees to follow. The Legislative Summit presents additional e-learning opportunities with the availability of the Pennsylvania Legislature’s filming crew. He concluded by noting that NCSL is completing a survey of legislative staff and that staff sections may be asked to assist with staff profiles.

Executive Director’s Report
Bill Pound noted that the 2008 staff section professional development seminars (PDS) were pretty well attended considering travel constraints. He said NCSL’s FY 2009 budget was projecting a small deficit; the budgets for FY 2010 and 2011 may be more problematic. He indicated that FY 2009 state budget deficits currently total $80 billion, with early projections pegging the FY 2010 deficits in the mid-$80 billion range. Bill said the federal stimulus package will be helpful to states and the weekly conference calls NCSL is conducting with legislators and staff across the country have received very favorable reviews.

Staff Section Officers Report
Linda Pittsford delivered the officers' report. The officers discussed creating a new staff section listserv to share information about professional development opportunities using e-learning technology. They reviewed 2008 staff section PDS attendance and budget performance, noting that eight of the 10 PDS had net financial gains, with two incurring deficits. The officers received a report on a new 2-year contract with Conference Direct to assist NCSL in performing site selections and contract negotiations for a number of meetings, including the PDS; staff sections can "opt out" of having NCSL use Conference Direct for their PDS. Larry Morandi presented a check list of optional NCSL, host state and staff section responsibilities in planning and conducting PDS. The officers then reviewed contracted and pending 2009 PDS, seven of which have hotel contracts (NCSL is using Conference Direct for five of them). Discussion ensued about using e-learning technology options in light of travel restrictions. The officers concluded their meeting with a report on the number of newsletters produced by staff sections and how they are distributed.

Strategic Planning Workgroup Report
Nancy Cyr delivered the workgroup's report. She previewed the workgroup meeting scheduled for the following day. Nancy indicated that the workgroup was compiling a set of guidelines for holding joint PDS in 2010 and had formed a subcommittee to recommend options.

Technology Review Subcommittee Report
Ken Levine delivered the subcommittee report. The subcommittee is developing LSCC-branded web-based training tools. He noted that NCSL had a new contract with Infinite to conduct webinars and other e-learning programs; the first two are scheduled on cost-saving programs and effective use of PowerPoint presentations. Ken said there is a need to better market e-learning opportunities through staff section listservs and staff on NCSL standing committees, and to balance e-learning opportunities with on-site attendance. Live streaming one session at each PDS is an option. Ken emphasized the importance of developing more web-based content to make technology use more effective.

Marketing and Outreach Subcommittee Report
Wade Melton presented the subcommittee report. He indicated that the Marketing and Outreach Subcommittee and the Professional Development Subcommittee met jointly. Michael Fischer, Center for Civic Education, briefed them on an 11-state pilot project involving legislative staff participation in Project Citizen. The subcommittees discussed updating training manuals for legislative staff, letters from the staff chairs column and outreach to chiefs of staff.

Professional Development Subcommittee Report
Duncan Goss presented the subcommittee report. He discussed a recommendation to increase tuition for the Legislative Staff Management Institute (LSMI) from $1,950 to $2,250, and described the LSMI "virtual" book club. Duncan said there would be two staff megasessions at Legislative Summit: "Doing More with Less: Become a Creative Innovator," and "Building a Thriving Organization." The subcommittee reviewed low attendance at the Senior Management Leadership Seminar and decided to suspend it until 2011. LSCC voted unanimously to approve the LSMI tuition increase. LSMI is scheduled for August 2-8 in Sacramento; applications will be solicited in the next two weeks.

Legislative Institution Subcommittee Report
Tim Rice presented the subcommittee report. He updated LSCC on the Separation of Powers web page and indicated that additional resources would be posted after NCSL’s web site redesign is launched. Tim described the status of the legislatures of the futures project. Among the issues being studied are the effect of staff retirement on institutional memory; recruitment and retention of staff; and reaching out to staff that cannot attend NCSL meetings. Karl Kurtz presented his survey of the demographics of legislative staff; the results will be reported in the July issue of State Legislatures magazine.

Standing Committees Report
Michael Adams summarized the 2008 Fall Forum and acknowledged the important role of Senator Don Balfour in hosting the meeting. The forum received high scores from meeting participants, especially for the social events. The Spring Forum is scheduled for April 23-25, in Washington, D.C. Michael said requests for standing committee appointments have been sent to legislative leaders, but not to staff supervisors yet. He indicated there was interest among staff standing committee officers in greater collaboration with LSCC and the Executive Committee.

Personal/District Staff Training Workgroup Report
Gary VanLandingham noted that the February staff training seminar scheduled for Dallas had been cancelled due to low attendance. It will be held on the first day of the Legislative Summit in Philadelphia, July 20.
Gary concluded the meeting by expressing his appreciation to staff for attending in light of travel constraints. The meeting was adjourned.