2013 RACSS Seminar Agenda & Handouts

Oct. 9-11, 2013

Denver, Colorado

Below is the agenda for the RACSS Professional Development Seminar, held October 9-11, 2013, in Denver, Colorado. The meeting was held jointly by three staff sections: RACSS, Legal Services and Leadership. Each staff section offered a separate agenda, with some shared or joint programs. The Legislative Human Resource Professionals group also met concurrently with the joint seiminar.

RACSS Seminar Links:


Tuesday, October 8
2:00 - 8:00 pm Registration
Wednesday, October 9
7:00 am - 5:00 pm Registration
7:30 - 8:30 am Continental Breakfast
8:30 - 10:00 am

Supreme Court Update
(Legal Services & RACSS)
The U.S. Supreme Court's recent term included decisions in several cases with implications on states and states' rights. Hear about the court's review and opinions handed down in these cases.
Lisa Soronen, State and Local Legal Center, Washington, D.C. - PowerPoint

10:15 am - Noon Exemplary Staff Services
What differentiates a good staff person a great staff person?  This session focuses on the role of legislative staff in providing the highest quality legislative support services to their legislature, members, and committees.  It explores how skills, attitudes, diligence and communication combine to provide exemplary staff services and support members in developing legislative policy, serving the public and functioning as a co-equal branch of government.
Mary Quaid, Executive Director, House Legislative Services, Louisiana 
Noon - 1:15 pm Luncheon
1:30 - 3:00 pm The Power of Persuasion: Concepts and Techniques for the Legislative Workplace
(with RACSS, Leadership Staff Section and HR Group)
Learn how to make your points effectively and gain support for your point of view in strategy meetings, policy discussions, positional papers--and even out at the pub--when you need to rally people to your cause. Find out what the latest neuroscience research tells us about how people make decisions and practice your powers of persuasion on your peers.
Faculty: Curt Stedron, National Forensic League Diamond Coach, Colorado
3:15 - 5:00 pm Colorado Legislative Staff Services - Non-Partisan & Partisan Models
(RACSS and Legal Services)
This session provides an overview of how Colorado's legislature is staffed, followed by a roundtable discussion, moderated by Colorado staff, concerning how other legislatures are staffed and the impacts that those staffing decisions have on the functioning of state legislatures. The program will be followed by a tour of the Colorado State Capitol.
Dan Cartin, Director of Legislative Legal Services, Colorado
Mike Mauer, Director of Legislative Council
5:30 - 6:30 pm Reception at the Colorado State Capitol
(RACSS, Legal Services, Leadership Staff Section and HR Group)
Thursday, October 10
7:00 am - 5:00 pm Registration
7:30 - 8:30 am Continental Breakfast
8:30 - 10:00 am Employment Law 201
(with RACSS, Legal Services, Leadership Staff Section and HR Group)
Raise your awareness of fundamental employment law concepts, issues and trends for at-will employees and discuss how they apply in the unique legislative workplace.
Faculty: Jonathan Segal, Duane Morris LLP - PowerPoint
10:15 - 11:30 am Breakout Sessions:  (choose one)
  ♦ Effective Use of the Interim
(RACSS and Leadership Staff Section)
During sessions, legislative staff work long hours at a hectic pace, facing short deadlines and rush assignments.  Between sessions, the pace changes, as does the workload and focus.  Learn how other states make effective use of interim sessions to develop in-depth subject matter expertise, participate in training, enhance services to members and the public, develop innovative products and publications, and anticipate needs for the coming session. 
Bryant Howe, Assistant Director, Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, Utah - PowerPoint
Sharon Wenger, Principal Research Analyst, Kansas Legislative Research Dept. - Handout
Nancy Butcher, Office Administrator, Finance Committee, West Virginia House - PowerPoint

 ♦ Drafting and Editing Technology
(with RACSS and Legal Services Staff Section)
Presentations will be made by legislative staff who have designed their own in-house bill drafting and editing systems; and legislative staff who are using or adapting software will talk about their experiences.
Bradford Towson, Associate Legislative Attorney, Legislative Commissioner’s Office, Connecticut
Heather Bannister, Legislative Attorney, Legislative Commissioner’s Office, Connecticut
Kim Poffenroth, Assistant Deputy Attorney General, New Brunswick, Canada - PowerPoint
Jennifer Jackson, Counsel, Legislative Counsel, Texas Legislature - PowerPoint

11:30 am - 1:00 pm  Luncheon
(with RACSS and Legal Services Staff Section)
During the luncheon, bill drafting software vendors will demonstrate their products in the room where the luncheon will be served.
1:00 - 2:30 pm Working With New Members: Challenges and Opportunities
New members bring fresh ideas and challenges to legislatures.  Staff have a big role in showing them the ropes of how legislatures operate and bringing them up to speed on policy issues.  New member orientation programs offer the basics of legislating but support and communication is necessary throughout the session in helping members make the crucial transition from campaigning to governing.  Learn how staff in three states develop effective working relationships with members.
Jessika Shipley, Senior Analyst, Colorado Legislative Council - PowerPoint - Handout
Bryant Howe, Assistant Director, Utah Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel - PowerPoint
Dave Bohyer, Director, Office of Research and Policy Analysis, Montana Legislative Services Division - PowerPoint
2:45 - 3:45 pm Breakout Sessions: (choose one)
  ♦ Sound Hiring Practices
Most state legislatures operate with relatively few staff so it’s vitally important to hire the right people for the job.  Find out how several states approach the hiring process, including recruiting techniques, performance testing, staff input, and probationary periods.
Terry Anderson, Director, Wisconsin Legislative Council - Handout
Walker Reagan, Research Division Director, North Carolina General Assembly - Handout
  ♦ Understanding and Using Public Policy Polling Data
The most familiar use of polling is gauging public opinion about a candidate or public policy issue. But polls can also be used to gather policy-relevant data, such as gun-ownership rates and voting wait times. So, whether they are interested in public opinion or policy-relevant data, legislators and legislative staff need know how to read a poll.  This session will explore polling basics, explaining why sample size, makeup, timing, phrasing, and responses of a poll are all important and how to draw the most accurate, useful conclusions from polling data.
Karen Shanton, Public Fellow, NCSL Legislative Management Program - PowerPoint
4:00 - 5:15 pm The Paperless Legislature: Possibility or Pipe Dream?
(RACSS and Legal Services)
Laptops, tablets, and smart phones are changing the way some legislatures do business.  They are no longer chained to mountains of paper, as bills, amendments, reports and agendas are available online for committee meetings, hearings and floor sessions.  Learn how the process has worked in several states, including benefits, drawbacks, challenges and surprises of going paperless.
Sabrina Lewellen, Deputy Director, Arkansas Senate - PowerPoint
Charlotte Carter-Yamauchi, Acting Director, Hawaii Legislative Reference Bureau - Handout
Manish Jani, Senior IT Manager, Colorado General Assembly - PowerPoint
Friday, October 11
7:30 a.m. -  Noon Registration
7:30 - 8:30 am Continental Breakfast
8:30 - 10:00 am A Statute's Journey Through the Branches
(RACSS and Legal Services)
Judge Russell Carparelli, Colorado Court of Appeals, uses a real life statute and litigation involving the interpretation of the statute to show how a statute on prohibitions on selling alcohol to underage people was drafted, how the statute was amended over the years, how the agency implemented it, and how the court construed it.
Judge Russell E. Carparelli, Colorado Court of Appeals - PowerPoint | Handout 1 | Handout 2 | Handout 3
10:15 - 11:30 am

Governing in a Purple State
(RACSS, Legal Services and Leadership Staff Section)
Tom Cronin and Robert Loevy are the authors of the book Governing a Purple State.  What is it like to govern in a state where either party can win?  Drawing on his years of polling and studying politics in Colorado and nationally, he is likely to talk about: The trends that are causing shifts from one party control to the other.  What happens when both parties have trouble "managing their tents"? What is the impact of social conservative issues on the parties?  How does polarization in the country affect the political parties?
Tom Cronin, Professor of American Government & Leadership, Colorado College
Robert Loevy, Professor of Political Science (Retired), Colorado College - PowerPoint

11:30 Seminar Concludes