Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee

Meeting Summary

September 26, 2008
Seattle, Washington

Gary VanLandingham opened the meeting.  He introduced Ken Levine, who discussed Lee National Denim Day.  Introductions of LSCC members followed.

Executive Director’s Report
Bill Pound indicated attendance at the 2008 Legislative Summit was about 6,400.  He noted NCSL's FY 2008 budget ended with a slight surplus and the FY 2009 budget was pretty much on target.  Dues collections currently are at 55 percent, but final collections are expected to be less than the 95 percent level at which NCSL normally budgets.  Bill cautioned that the FY 2010 budget could be more difficult with the problems facing the national economy.  Grant activity is positive, however, and the Foundation for State Legislatures completed a record year. 

Technology Review Subcommittee Report
Ken Levine emphasized the admonition of Michael Adams to “let the content drive the technology.”  He pointed out opportunities for staff sections to use technology for staff unable to attend professional development seminars, including broadcasting from state capitol hearing rooms over the Web.  Ken reviewed the subcommittee’s charges, which include expanding e-learning programs and monitoring the TIMSS data management system and implementation of the State Net bill tracking system.  He concluded by presenting Gary VanLandingham with a certificate of appreciation for supporting Lee National Denim Day.

Professional Development Subcommittee Report
Cathy Fernandez described a pilot program for personal and district staff that will culminate in a seminar in Dallas, February 5-7, 2009, designed to “make your boss a rock star.”  She discussed the Senior Management Leadership Seminar and ideas to make it more relevant to staff, perhaps by linking it to other NCSL meetings; LSCC will conduct a survey to determine the best approach.  Cathy gave an update on the 2008 Legislative Staff Management Institute; 31 participants were selected from 57 applicants.  NCSL has agreed to continue working with the University of Southern California and California State University, Sacramento, to conduct the institute through 2012.  There probably will be a tuition increase.  Cathy described a partnership with Barnes and Noble for an online book store featuring Tribal Leadership.  The subcommittee discussed potential LSCC mega-sessions at the Legislative Summit, including a Tribal Leadership follow-up, an ethics session with CLE credit, and how to deal with difficult people.

Marketing and Outreach Subcommittee Report
Wade Melton introduced Karl Kurtz, who discussed efforts aimed at involving more legislative staff in the classroom though the Trust for Representative Democracy.  Wade reviewed the subcommittee’s priorities, which include strengthening the Statehouse Ambassadors’ program; new employee orientation sessions; developing a manual for Executive Committee and staff vice chair positions; strengthening the links among the staff sections, standing committees and LSCC; and assessing the needs of chiefs of staffs to increase their involvement with NCSL.

Legislative Institution Subcommittee Report
Tim Rice reported the subcommittee was moving forward with e-learning opportunities by beaming in one of its members—Phil Twogood of Florida—via laptop computer.   He noted that, because much of the subcommittee’s work on legislatures of the future involved recommendations for legislators, it was important to link with the Legislative Effectiveness Standing Committee.  Karl Kurtz described his online demographics survey of legislative staff, which he e-mailed to 6,000 staff, 1,027 of whom had responded.  Karl noted the survey results were skewed toward nonpartisan staff; partisan staff were underrepresented.  He asked LSCC staff to e-mail a link to their staff to broaden the survey's outreach.  Brian Weberg followed by saying NCSL's Legislative Management Program's census of legislative staff, last conducted in 2003, was due for an update.  Tim discussed the subcommittee’s work on separation of powers' issues and noted NCSL has a Webpage with information on 12 different topics; he encouraged staff to contribute additional resources.  Tim acknowledged the importance of addressing issues that are relevant to partisan staff, since they are underrepresented within LSCC.

Staff Section Officers Report
Linda Pittsford introduced Larry Morandi, who reviewed the status of Conference Direct in planning professional development seminars.  He reiterated that NCSL had heard staff section concerns about Conference Direct and had decided they could choose not to use it in the future.  NCSL's contract with Conference Direct ends December 31, 2008, and a new request for proposal will be issued.  Discussion emphasized the importance of the staff section host state committee and executive committee working closely with NCSL's staff liaison and meeting planner to select cities and hotels, since NCSL is responsible for signing hotel contracts.  The officers asked NCSL develop a check list of responsibilities for fall seminars.  Karl Kurtz presented a proposal to change the name "staff section" to something that means more to the general public and is more marketable to legislators and staff as NCSL implements its Website redesign.  Individual staff sections would not have to change their name, but the Website would refer to them differently as a group; e.g., organizations, networks, associations, societies.  There was no consensus to change; the officers agreed to get input from their staff sections before moving forward.  Cathy Fernandez and Kathy Brennan Wiggins said they would continue working with the officers to develop a program for international delegates at the Legislative Summit in Philadelphia.  Kathy noted there is a German and Austrian delegation in Seattle as part of the Partnership of Parliaments and encouraged LSCC interaction with them.  Gary VanLandingham said he would write a Staff Chair column for the staff section newsletters.

Personal/District Staff Training Workgroup Report
Gary VanLandingham noted Gilbert Loredo was working with Brian Weberg on a training session in Dallas, February 5-7, and the workgroup would seek help from the Marketing and Outreach Subcommittee.

Strategic Planning Workgroup Report
Nancy Cyr said the workgroup would meet over lunch on Saturday to identify and discuss potential projects for 2009-2010.

Standing Committees Report
Martha Carter described the role of the staff officers of the standing committees and how they are trying to engage more legislative staff with the committees.  She noted four of the staff sections have the most involvement with the standing committees—Research and Committee Staff Section, National Association of Legislative Fiscal Officers, Leadership Staff Section and Legal Services Staff Section. 

Staff Section Professional Development Seminar Reports
Leadership Staff Section (LSS).  Tom Wright reviewed the seminar's agenda.  He commended in particular the session entitled "Powerful Persuasion—Keeping Your Cool While Dealing with the Media and the Public" with Roger Hovey, Vice President of Bose Public Affairs Group in Indianapolis; and an ethics panel, "Where Do You Draw the Line," on which he, Jamie Jo Franklin and Laura DeVivo served as discussion leaders.

National Legislative Program Evaluation Society (NLPES).  Jan Yamane reported the seminar was still under way in Madison and would end September 27.  She said next year’s seminar is scheduled for Honolulu in conjunction with NALIT.  Jan acknowledged it may be difficult for some states to justify sending staff to a meeting in Hawaii.  Gary Schaefer commented that the difficulties often were related to perception; holding the meeting in Hawaii may not be much more expensive than holding it elsewhere; and Hawaii had always supported sending its staff to meetings out of state.

National Legislative Services and Security Association (NLSSA).  Gary VanLandingham noted the seminar was still on going in Concord with an attendance of 40 to 50 staff.

National Association of Legislative Information Technology (NALIT).  Duncan Goss indicated the NALIT seminar was part of a joint meeting with LINCS.  Of particular interest were sessions on the use of GIS technology in redistricting; recruitment and retention of staff; and a trip to the state capitol in Frankfort.  Duncan discussed holding the 2009 seminar in Hawaii with NLPES and suggested bulk-buying of airline tickets might reduce costs.  He noted attendance was good for first-time participants.

Legislative Information and Communication Staff Section (LINCS).  Michael Murphy emphasized the value of LINCS' traditional "Boot Camp" that preceded the seminar.  He said speechwriting was the focus of the seminar's agenda and LINCS had started a mentoring program for new staff.

National Association of Legislative Fiscal Officers (NALFO).  Nandana Kalupahana indicated the seminar was still under way in Madison.  Ron Snell noted that, although attendance was not as strong as in the past, there were a good number of first-time attendees.

Legal Services Staff Section (LSSS).  Lisa Sandberg said attendance was pretty good, with 58 participants.  Of particular interest was a session on the sub-prime mortgage crisis and a special meeting with Ohio Supreme Court Chief Justice Thomas Moyer.

Gary VanLandingham encouraged staff to attend the Executive Committee's orientation session scheduled for later in the day.  Ken Levine requested a group photo to commemorate Lee National Denim Day.  The meeting adjourned.

posted 12/31/08 
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