Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee

Meeting Summary

May 29, 2009
Raleigh, N.C.

Gary VanLandingham opened the meeting. He discussed legislative staff running for Executive Committee and presented his nominations for membership on the Staff Nominating Committee. The full LSCC approved the membership—John Phelps (Chair), Gwen Bailey, Jacqueline Curro, Cathy Fernandez, Judy Hall, Ken Levine, Lisa Sandberg, Shirley Iorio (1st Alternate) and Pepper Sturm (2nd Alternate). Gary asked subcommittee chairs to submit to him draft reports of 2008-2009 activities by the end of June for inclusion in a single report.

Executive Director's Report
Bill Pound commended NCSL staff for successfully organizing a series of conference calls on the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009; attendance ranged from 70 to over 300. A webinar explained what states can and cannot do with federal stimulus funds. Bill began a budget discussion by noting that NCSL was absorbing losses from low attendance and cancelled meetings. Attendance at the Fall and Spring Forums was generally good, but lower than in recent years. He said Legislative Summit was tracking at a pace comparable to Boston and New Orleans based on a revised attendance forecast of 5,500. FY 2009 state dues collections are lower, coming in at 93 percent of request compared to a budgeted figure of 95 percent. NCSL's FY 2010 budget projects a 90 percent payment schedule. To help cut costs, Bill said NCSL is considering eliminating its retiree health plan, among other options.

Legislative Institution Subcommittee Report
Roger Norman presented the subcommittee's report. He reviewed the three areas that were the subcommittee's focus—staffing issues in legislatures of the future; more effectively engaging partisan staff in LSCC; and devising ways to reach out to staff that are unable to travel.

Marketing and Outreach Subcommittee Report
Wade Melton presented the subcommittee's report. He described an 11-state demonstration project that would place legislative staff in the classroom to enhance civics education in schools as part of a collaborative effort between NCSL and Project Citizen. Wade discussed tools available for the Statehouse Ambassadors Program, including webinars. He noted that NCSL is updating a manual for staff section and standing committee officers, and has been publishing an on-line newsletter.

Program Development Subcommittee Report
Cathy Fernandez presented the subcommittee's report. Karl Kurtz updated the subcommittee on the Legislative Staff Management Institute (LSMI), scheduled for August 2-8 in Sacramento. LSMI has approved all 23 applicants. Karl noted that although tuition was raised this year, it did not appear to be an issue for participants. Cathy discussed the future of the Senior Management Leadership Seminar (SMLS), which has not been well attended in recent years. She and subcommittee staff have contacted several legislative staff directors to get their input on factors affecting attendance and concluded that the time of year and confusion with LSMI were considerations. Ron Snell presented an update on the personal/district staff training seminar that was cancelled in Dallas in February; it will be held on July 20 in conjunction with the Legislative Summit in Philadelphia. There is a $99 registration fee for those not registered for the full Summit. Cathy concluded with a description of the three LSCC mega sessions scheduled at Legislative Summit: "Stepping Up to the Plate: Confronting Ethical Problems Head On" (July 20); "Doing More with Less: Become a Creative Innovator" (July 21); and "Building a Thriving Organization" (July 24).

Technology Review Subcommittee Report
Gary Schaefer delivered the subcommittee's report. He described a proposal from Granicus, a provider of government webcasting services, to host online videos, PowerPoint presentations and printed documents in a single interface. The proposed service would be available at no charge for one year. The subcommittee will explore it in greater detail with LSCC and NCSL staff. Gary said the Executive Committee's Programs and Strategic Planning Subcommittee will discuss potential uses of a $35,000 grant from the Foundation for State Legislatures for e-learning projects. (See Strategic Planning Workgroup Report for more detail.) He indicated that NALIT will host a webinar at its fall professional development seminar in Austin that will allow staff that cannot travel to participate. He noted that the new NCSL website is up and contains an e-learning resources page.

Staff Section Officers Report
Linda Pittsford delivered the officers' report. She said the members discussed and approved changes to the staff section overhead allocation formula that would share professional development seminar losses between staff sections and NCSL in light of travel constraints. The amendments reiterate that "Staff sections retain any excess revenues over meeting costs and overhead allocation charges," but replace the provision "NCSL absorbs all losses" with the following language:

  • Staff sections will absorb losses resulting from PDS meetings to the extent possible from their balances of prior year excess revenues. However, staff sections will be able to retain a balance of $3,000 in their PDS accounts to support programs in the coming year.
  •  If NCSL is able to recover a portion of staff section losses resulting from PDS meetings by scheduling another meeting at the contracted hotel(s), it will confer with the relevant staff section(s) to reach a mutually satisfactory resolution over return of recovered losses paid by the staff section(s). Staff sections will not recover more than the losses paid.

The full LSCC approved the amendments.  Jan Yamane invited other staff sections to join NLPES at its 2010 PDS in Baton Rouge, October 4-7. Martha Carter led a discussion of strategies to increase staff participation in standing committees. She recognized that most staff do not participate in Spring/Fall Forums so there's a need to market information outside the meetings. Since many forum participants also are not members of the standing committees, she raised a question of how best to integrate them into the standing committees. Martha emphasized that involvement in a staff section should not preclude participation with standing committees. Kathy Brennan Wiggins described the International Program agenda at Legislative Summit. Shirley Iorio, LESN co-chair, emphasized the importance of involving the policy networks more closely with the staff sections.

Strategic Planning Workgroup Report
Nancy Cyr delivered the workgroup's report. She noted that LSCC is a cosponsor of the Walk for Wellness at Legislative Summit and encouraged staff participation. She presented recommendations for using a $35,000 grant from the Foundation for State Legislatures for e-learning projects, which must be approved by the Executive Committee's Programs and Strategic Planning Subcommittee. The recommendations would allocate $4,000 to NCSL to purchase a high-quality digital camera; $7,000 for video-taping sessions at Legislative Summit; and $24,000 for e-learning projects developed by staff sections and standing committees. Gary Schaefer presented guidelines for holding joint staff section meetings.

Standing Committees Workgroup Report
Martha Carter presented the workgroup's report. She noted that staff attendance at Spring Forum was down compared to recent years and suggested marketing the importance of staff involvement with the standing committees, especially among the four staff sections that that participate the most— Leadership Staff Section, Legal Services Staff Section, National Association of Legislative Fiscal Officers, and Research and Committee Staff Section. (See Staff Section Officers Report for more detail.)

Gary VanLandingham adjourned the meeting.