NCSL Executive Committee: Officers' Biographical Information

8/10/2017
 

Speaker Robin Vos, Wisconsin

NCSL President
Speaker Robin Vos (R)
Speaker of the Assembly 
Wisconsin

Capitol Office
Wisconsin State Legislature 
State Capitol 
PO Box 8953 
Madison, WI 53708-8953
608-266-917

Speaker Robin Vos was first elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly in 2004 and is currently serving his seventh term as a state representative. Robin is the 75th speaker of the Assembly. He was chosen by his Assembly peers for that post in 2011. Vos previously served as the chair of the powerful Joint Finance Committee.

Vos currently leads a Republican majority of 64 representatives, the largest since 1957. Under his leadership, the Legislature has approved one of the largest tax cuts in Wisconsin history and became the 25th right-to-work state in our country. He also is proud of the bipartisan work in the Assembly where more than 90 percent of the bills passed receive bipartisan support. His speaker's task forces have developed important legislation on topics including mental health, rural schools, Alzheimer's and dementia, urban education and youth workforce readiness.

Born in 1968, Vos is a lifelong Racine County resident, graduating from Burlington High School in 1986. He attended the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater, where he served as a UW Board of Regents student member from 1989 to 1991. Vos graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in political science and a minor in public pelations in 1991.

After college, Vos worked as a legislative assistant for state Representative Jim Ladwig from Racine County. He also worked for Ladwig's successor, his wife, state Representative Bonnie Ladwig. He also served as the district director for then U.S. Representative Mark Neumann until he began his first small business.

In 1996, he purchased Rojos Popcorn in Burlington – a popcorn packaging company that he still operates today. Vos also owns several other small businesses including the Union Grove Car Wash in Union Grove, Knights Popcorn in Milwaukee, and rental properties in Whitewater.

While building his businesses, Vos never lost his passion for politics. He was elected as a Racine County Board Supervisor in 1994. He served on the board until 2004 when he was elected to the Wisconsin State Assembly.

 

Speaker Scott Saiki, Hawaii

NCSL President Elect
Speaker Scott Saiki (D)
Speaker of the House
Hawaii

Capitol Office
Hawaii State House of Representatives
State Capitol 
Room 431
514 S. Beretania St.
Honolulu, HI 96813 
808-222-9372

Speaker Scott Saiki was first elected to the Hawaii State House of Representatives in 1994, where he has served as majority leader, chair of the Labor Committee, chair of the Hawaiian Affairs Committee and co-chair of the Senate-House Investigative Committee. The Democrat, who represents the state’s 26th district, was named House speaker in 2017.

Born in Honolulu, Saiki received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and his law degree from the University of Hawaii at Manoa’s William S. Richardson School of Law. His law practice focuses on personal injury and disability cases.  

 

Mitzi Johnson

Immediate Past President
Speaker Mitzi Johnson
Speakerof the House
Vermont 

Capitol Office
Office of the Speaker
115 State Street
Montpelier, VT 05633
802-828-2245         

Mitzi Johnson was elected Vermont speaker of the House on Jan. 4, 2017. She is the 91st speaker and third female speaker of the House. She was born in Clifton Park, N.Y., and moved to South Hero, Vt., in 1993 after graduating with a bachelor of science degree from the University of Vermont. Johnson also holds a master's in public administration from the Harvard Kennedy School.

Johnson is the executive director of the Adaptive Leadership Network, a nonprofit engaged in leadership training and complex problem solving. Her professional experience includes program and policy work for Hunger Free Vermont and the Vermont Freedom to Marry Task Force, as well as vegetable production at Allenholm Farm in South Hero. Johnson currently is a board member for the Vermont Foodbank. She previously served on the Vermont Electric Cooperative board of directors.

 

Idaho Speaker Scott Bedke

Vice President
Speaker Scott Bedke (R)
Speaker of the House
Idaho

Capitol Office
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720-0038
208-332-1000

Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke is a native of Twin Falls. He graduated from Oakley High School and received a bachelor’s degree in finance from Brigham Young University.

Bedke has been elected to 10 terms representing District 27 in the Idaho House of Representatives. In December 2012 he was elected speaker of the house and is currently serving his fourth two-year term as speaker. His previous committee assignments included Revenue and Taxation, Appropriations, Education, Transportation and Natural Resources committees.

Bedke has spent his entire life in the livestock industry and has a keen interest in preserving and protecting Idaho's vast natural resources. Bedke is a fourth-generation rancher and with his brother owns and operates Wincecup Inc., raising cattle south and west of Oakley, Idaho, as well as in Elko County, Nev. Bedke is a former president of Idaho Cattle Association and former director of National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. Bedke and his wife, Sarah, have four children and 12 grandchildren.

 

Martha Wigton, Georgia

NCSL Staff Chair
Martha Wigton
Director
House Budget and Research Office
Georgia House of Representatives
Georgia

Capitol Address
412 Coverdell Legislative Office Building
18 Capitol Square SW
Atlanta, GA 30334
404-656-5050

Martha Wigton has 28 years of executive-level legislative experience, including working directly with two lieutenant governors and four Georgia House of Representatives speakers. She has extensive knowledge of Georgia’s political process and specializes in the areas of policy, budget, strategy and office management.

Wigton currently serves as the director of Georgia’s nonpartisan House Budget and Research Office where she oversees the development of spending policy and priorities for the state’s annual supplemental and general appropriations acts, with a focus on multi-billion-dollar budgeting across all three branches of Georgia state government.

Before working in the House Budget and Research Office, where she also served as deputy director and speaker’s policy director, she was the director of the Senate Research Office, executive assistant for policy and budget and acting chief of staff in the Office of the Lieutenant Governor.

Wigton has a bachelor’s degree in English from Georgia Southern University. Recent professional awards and activities include serving as a member of the NCSL executive committee since 2015, being named a Henry Toll Fellow by the Council of State Governments in 2016 and winning the 2016 Legislative Staff Leadership Award by the National Association of Legislative Fiscal Officers.

 

J.J. Gentry, South Carolina

Staff Vice Chair 
J.J. Gentry
Counsel
South Carolina Senate 
South Carolina

Capitol Office
P.O. Box 142
Columbia, SC  29202 
803-212-6306

J.J Gentry has worked for the South Carolina Legislature since 2001, serving with the House Education and Public Works Committee, the Senate Judiciary Committee, and the Senate Ethics Committee. His current responsibilities include acting as a consultant to legislators and legislative staff, monitoring the ethical conduct of legislators and legislative staff, conducting research, drafting legislation, facilitating hearings and meetings, and handling constituent and media relations. He has served in various other NCSL leadership positions during his time.

 

Jon Heining, Texas

Immediate Past Staff Chair
Jon Heining
General Counsel,
Texas Legislative Council

Capitol Address
Robert E. Johnson Building
P.O. Box 12128
1501 North Congress Avenue 
Austin, TX   78711-2128 
512-463-1151

Jon Heining believes that strong states and strong state legislatures are critical to the success of our great American experiment in self-government.  Accordingly, he serves the legislature of his state as general counsel to the Texas Legislative Council.  As general counsel, Heining provides legal support to the council for administrative, contractual, and personnel issues. In addition, he drafts or reviews several categories of legislative documents.  Occasionally, he is asked to speak on legal ethics, Texas legislative process, and the use of social media by government employees. 

Heining holds a bachelor's degree in business administration from Auburn University in Alabama, a master of laws from the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia, and a juris doctorate from The University of Texas School of Law in Austin, Texas. 

Heining first got involved with NCSL in 2007, when he began working with what was then called the Legal Services Staff Section (LSSS).  He served on the governing board for LSSS from 2008 through 2011 and as board chair from 2013 through 2014.  He was honored to receive one of LSSS's final staff achievement awards in 2016 before the section was merged to create the Research, Editorial, Legal, and Committee Staff association. He has served on the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee (LSCC) since 2012, including chairing the LSCC Information Technology subcommittee for two years. He has served on the NCSL Executive Committee since 2014 in addition to serving as a staff vice chair of the NCSL Legislative Effectiveness Committee since 2009.

In his spare time, Heining enjoys scuba diving, preparing and eating smoked meats, and gardening poorly.  Jon lives and plays in Austin, Texas, with his beloved wife, children, and dog.