The RELACS Report offers articles on research methods, tips for committee staff, legal issues, statutory construction, grammar and punctuation, and other topics related to serving legislatures.
This week, we pause to celebrate the good work of legislative staff, who work behind the scenes to support state legislatures. From drafting bills to keeping computer networks secure, their work is even more important and valued during these unprecedented times. Join us May 4-8 to recognize their efforts with a standing ovation or two.
NCSL offers a variety of webinars for legislative staff, from policy topics to professional development. This directory lists all webinars that relevant for legislative staff and available 24-7.
With challenges come opportunities. In response to the COVID-19 crisis, this best-in-class leadership and management program is shifting to a month-long online experience. This all-digital experience will be offered at a reduced tuition rate. The deadline to apply is Friday, June 5, 2020.
Members of RELACS may join discussion groups, nominate peers for awards and request to be appointed to a committee.
Learn about the separation of powers, read online versions of legislative drafting manuals, and look at how other legislatures revise and publish their code. RELACS also maintains a library of webinars and presentations for your review.
Past chair of RELACS and associate general counsel, Utah Legislature
“Working as legislative staff is a tough job. We are often required to solve complex problems in a short amount of time. RELACS gives me quick access to research and assistance from the professionals at NCSL and well as my colleagues in other states. RELACS also provides valuable training opportunities through professional development seminars, webinars, and other forums that focus on issues unique to my job responsibilities. RELACS gives me the opportunity to interact with colleagues from around the nation and learn from the many different approaches taken by states. I strive to be the best I can at my job. RELACS plays a significant role in helping me accomplishing that goal!”
Deputy legislative counsel
California Legislative Counsel Bureau
RELACS has given me access to resources targeted at legislative staff around the country who work in our rather niche field. Through these resources I am able to see "hot topics" and see how various states are addressing these topics. I have also received professional development training, both through webinars and the in-person national conference. At this conference, I was able to more fully develop professional relationships with peers from my state and also professionals from other states. Ultimately, RELACS has given me the opportunity to grow professionally and develop professional relationships with others.
Past chair RELACS, Director, Legislative Council, Wisconsin Legislaturee
I appreciate many things about being involved in RELACS and other aspects of NCSL, but I most appreciate the opportunity to connect with my colleagues from other states. We are always facing new challenges in our jobs, and I know that I am better prepared to face those challenges because of what my colleagues in RELACS have shared with me through both formal presentations and individual conversations. In our profession, we don't have as many colleagues as some, and I am grateful for the opportunity to learn so much from others who do similar work.
Office and state-legislative editor
Office of Legislative Legal Services, Colorado
Lexington was my first time at RELACS, and I was thrilled to meet editors from other states and learn about how they approach the job. It was eye opening to find out we do things very differently state to state while working toward the same goal. Brian Baird's presentation on ethics and the tour of the Kentucky state capitol were highlights.
Committee staff administrator
Legislative Research Commission, Kentucky
RELACS has broadened my network of legislative staff colleagues across the nation while also helping me develop skills and learn new ways of tackling the challenges we all face in doing legislative research, providing legal services, serving as committee staff, and editing legislative bill drafts and publications.
Principal deputy legislative counsel II
California Legislative Counsel Bureau
RELACS is all about community. With the in-person professional development meetings, I’ve been able to meet other legislative staff who have become friends and mentors. The variety of skilled professionals in the RELACS community has helped me enhance my knowledge of what it means to be a legislative lawyer and expanded my skill sets by learning from researchers and editors to enable me to provide a better service to my legislative clients. In turn, I’ve been able to give back to the RELACS community by taking a phone call or returning an email from a RELACS colleague, and for the first time being a speaker at our professional development meeting in Salt Lake. The positive outlook, spirit of giving, and professionalism within RELACS makes me proud to be a member.
Illinois Legislative Research Unit
NCSL and RELACS are wonderful resources, not only for information, but for research and practices that are relevant to legislative support staff. Seminars and webinars offer opportunities to learn about important issues and new sources of information. They also present chances to develop contacts in other states, who can be great resources themselves.
Past co-chair RELACS and deputy director for development and support, Office of Legislative Legal Services, Colorado
For me, participating in RELACS is about the people and the opportunities to both receive and provide professional development. As a member of RELACS, I have almost instant access to a nationwide network of legislative staff professionals who willingly share advice and information to help me better serve my legislators. Through webinars and in-person professional development meetings, I have received many hours of professional development in the skills and subject areas that matter most to my job. But most importantly, I have had the opportunity to meet and develop friendships with legislative staff from all around the country. By participating in RELACS, I have enjoyed the opportunity to learn from others and to share what I know with others, which has helped me grow both as a professional and as a person and increased the satisfaction I find in my work.
Past co-chair RELACS and executive director, Montana Legislative Services
RELACS has provided me and my staff a place to learn new ideas and to attend training on topic areas that are unique to state legislatures. Involvement in the staff associations has been important in my professional development. Participation has given me a community that understands the legislative process and what it is like being a nonpartisan staffer. Through annual summits and professional development seminars, I have received information that either gives me new tools or strengthens skills that I need, and also contacts across the nation to share new ways of looking at things. As a director, RELACS provides me a tangible resource to offer new and experienced staff -- for training and camaraderie and to show how legislative staffing is a profession that is exciting, challenging, and ever-evolving.
Past co-chair of RELACS and administrative services manager, Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau
RELACS has given me professional opportunities to go beyond my comfort zone and to be more fully engaged as a legislative staff. During my years of participation with the staff association, I’ve learned from others and by experience how to lead a professional association, chair a meeting, present a webinar, and moderate a panel discussion. I’ve also connected with legislative editors and other legislative staff around the country. Through these relationships, we (1) appreciate the unique role we play in supporting our legislatures; (2) help each other to maintain nonpartisanship in a partisan world; and (3) understand the significance of every single comma.