2015 LSSS, RACSS and LRL Professional Development Seminar | Agenda


Texas State CapitolThe 2015 LSSS, RACSS and LRL Professional Development Seminar offered sessions of interest to researchers, committee staff, legislative attorneys, drafters, editors and librarians. The seminar featured interactive sessions and opportunities to learn from legislative colleagues in other states. 

All available handouts are linked below..

Continuing Legal Education

Many of the sessions were designed to qualify for continuing legal education (CLE) credits in those states that have mandatory CLE. Application materials were available from NCSL. However, final acceptance of CLE hours is the prerogative of your state’s CLE authority.

Seminar Schedule - with handouts

SunDay, Oct. 4 | At the AT&T Conference Center
Time Sessions

2:30-5 p.m.


6 p.m.

LSSS Dutch Treat Dinners

LSSS members may meet in the hotel lobby at 5:40 to walk to local restaurants.

6:30 p.m.

LRL Officers and Friends Dutch Treat Dinner

Current and former officers of LRL, as well as LRL attendees, are welcome to join us at the Texas Chili Parlor for an informal Dutch Treat dinner. Meet in the hotel lobby at 6:10 to walk to the restaurant.

monDay, oct. 5 | At the AT&T Conference Center

7 a.m.-5 p.m.


7:30-8:30 a.m.

Continental Breakfast

8:15-8:30 a.m. Welcome From LSSS, RACSS and LRL Staff Section Officers

8:30-10:15 a.m.

Joint Plenary

Plenary: Two Guys on Your Head

Moderator: Rebecca McInroy, KUT Radio Host

Presenters: Dr. Art Markman, Professor, University of Texas at Austin

Dr. Robert Duke, Professor and University Distinguished Teaching Professor, University of Texas at Austin

"Two Guys on Your Head" is a short feature, produced at KUT Radio in Austin, Texas.  KUT radio host Rebecca McInroy interviews University of Texas Professors Dr. Art Markman and Dr. Bob Duke to explore brain science and help us to understand why people do what they do.

10:30-11:45 a.m.


Concurrent Sessions:

LRL: Five Minutes of Fame: Innovations and Challenges in Legislative Libraries
Facilitator: Jennifer Bernier, LRL Chair and Co-Head Librarian, Legislative Library, Connecticut General Assembly

Come prepared to share the latest challenges and innovations in your library and learn what's going on in legislative libraries around the states.

RACSS: Personalities in the Professional Atmosphere – Smart Professional Practices
Presenter: Sabrina N. Lewellen, Deputy Director and Assistant Secretary of the Arkansas Senate

Every workplace has a mixture of people and personalities.  With all the legislative arena entails, it is helpful to cultivate a cooperative working atmosphere as much as possible.  This session will explore some personality types, help professionals individually assess themselves and discuss helpful tools for dealing with others professionally and successfully.
LSSS: Redrafting “Model Law” to Fit Your Code (CLE)

Presenters: Eric Hougland, Deputy Director, Legal Division, Texas Legislative Council
Mark J. Cutrona, Esq., Deputy Director, Legislative Council - Division of Research, Delaware
Angela Alexander, Senior Legislative Counsel,
Legal Division, Texas Legislative Council

Whether utilizing uniform code from the Uniform Law Commission or starting with a “model” from another state, the task of redrafting that code to fit your structure is not always a simple task. Hear from three drafters how they try to adapt a model or uniform law to their state's statutory scheme.

Drafting from a Uniform or Model Law—handout

Editors: Magic Management Part 2
Presenter: Carolyn Magráns, Ph.D., Legislative Editor Supervisor, Bureau of Legislative Research, Arkansas

Hiring and training seasonal proofing staff can be challenging. During the 2014 Fall PDS, Carolyn Magráns discussed the challenges and some of the solutions for managing temporary staff. For this follow-up session, Carolyn will examine more of the hiring and training variables involved in managing the “magic” that highly qualified people can bring to seasonal proofreading.

Five Principal Responsibilites of the Proofreader—handout

2015 Proofreader Training Survey—handout

Punctuation Practice Sheet—handout

Punctuation Practice Key—handout

Proofreader Training and Orientation Schedule #1—handout

Proofreader Training and Orientation Schedule #2handout

Proofreader Training and Orientation Schedule #3handout

Proofreader Training and Orientation Schedule #4handout

Proofreader Training and Orientation Schedule #5handout

11:45 a.m.-1 p.m.


Joint Luncheon and Texas Wellness Initiative Briefing

Welcome: NCSL Staff Chair, Karl Aro, Director of Administration, Department of Legislative Services, Maryland

Briefing: Mark Kuster, Legislative Counsel, Texas Legislative Council

1-2:15 p.m.























Concurrent Sessions:

LRL: E-Tools...Technology a Day, Keeps IT Away!

Speaker: Barbara Fullerton

Come and learn about some new cool technology tools, concepts and websites that may make your tasks easier. In this fast pace session learn about SnagIT, Yeti, Freebooting, Bookends (not what you think!), Aeon Timeline, Take Control, Tableau, Word It Out, Global Web Index (trends), and many others! Feel free to share your cool e-tool!

► PowerPoint

RACSS: Bill Analysis: Tried and True and What’s New  (CLE)
Presenters: Carey Eskridge, Texas Legislative Council
Michael P. Gallagher, Legislative Attorney, Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau

This session examines bill analysis methods from two different states –Texas and Wisconsin. What is the purpose of the analysis and what is the courts’ reliance on it?

Wisconsin Bill Drafting Manual—handout
LSSS: The Evolving Role of the Drafting Attorney After a Bill Has Been Introduced (CLE)
Speakers: Kelly Lowe, Senior Legislative Counsel; Taheera Randolph, Texas Legislative Counsel; Erin Smith, Texas Legislative Counsel

This presentation will explore the evolving role of the legislative drafting attorney after a bill has been introduced. The presentation will address how a drafting attorney's approach to drafting subsequent legislative documents is different from drafting bills and best practices for drafting committee substitutes and floor amendments in both the first and second houses of the legislature. Special emphasis will be placed on drafting those documents for large, complex bills. Subjects that will be covered include: fulfilling an attorney's fiduciary duty to a client, effective attorney-client communication, and the provision of legal counseling to clients in the legislative arena on topics such as the constitutionality of proposed legislation, the interaction of proposed legislation with current state and federal law, the Texas Code Construction Act's effect on the interpretation of proposed legislation, and drafting transition language to facilitate the implementation of enacted laws.

Evolving Role of Drafting Attornies—handout

Editors: Articulating Suggested Changes to Drafters or How Editors Improve the Law
Mark Kuster, Legislative Counsel, Texas Legislative Council
Melanie Westerberg, Legal Editor, Legal Division, Texas Legislative Council
Michele Trepagnier, Chief Legal Editor, Legal Division, Texas Legislative Council

A senior legislative counsel and the chief legal editor of the legal division of the Texas Legislative Council will discuss how editors work with attorneys.  The presentation will address the roles of attorneys and editors during the drafting of bills, enrolling of floor amendments, and update of statutes after the legislative session.

2:30-3:45 p.m.

Concurrent Sessions:

LRL: Texas History and Texas Artifacts
Speakers: Texas State Library and Archives Commission Staff

The Archives and Information Services (ARIS) division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC) is tasked with preserving and making accessible the records of Texas government.  Utilizing a non-traditional presentation approach, attendees will rotate between TSLAC research rooms to learn about library and archival services of ARIS and how its resources can assist legislative researchers and staff.  Attendees will have the opportunity to converse in small groups with ARIS librarians and archivists to learn about the division’s efforts to document the Texas Legislature through publications and original records as well as learn about ongoing projects.  The tour will conclude with an opportunity to view original legislative documents. This will be at the Lorenzo de Zavala State Archives Building. 

RACSS: Designing a Productive Interim Study: Framing the Question
Mark Quiner, Director, Center for Ethics in Government, NCSL
Charlotte Carter-Yamauchi, Acting Director, Legislative Reference Bureau, Hawaii

So you’ve been assigned to staff an interim committee.   Now what?  Is the interim really the place where dead bills go to die a little more?  Or is it the place where legislators “dig in” and really begin to understand tough problems and develop meaningful solutions? While you can’t control the outcome, as a committee staffer there are tools you can use to help your committee answer the right questions and to provide them with the information they need to make informed decisions. This session will provide a hands on experience and introduce you to some very simple and practical tools you can use with just about any issue and in various committee settings.

LSSS & Editing: Paperless Bill Drafting and Editing
Speakers: John Bjornson, Code Revisor, Legislative Council, North Dakota
Nicole L. Brenner, Esq., Division of Legislative Services, Virginia General Assembly

This session will discuss two systems of Paperless Bill Drafting and Editing: those used in North Dakota and Virginia. Each presenter will discuss the steps gone through in their electronic bill drafting and editing process, show what each step looks like, how paper-free the system is, and difficulties and goals for each system. Presenters will also discuss how work is transferred electronically and how elected officials use the system.

Bill Drafting System (BDS)—handout

Paperless Bill Drafting and Editing, Bjornson► PowerPoint

Paperless Bill Drafting and Editing, Brenner► PowerPoint

4-5 p.m.

Concurrent Sessions:

LRL: Texas Water!
Speaker: Robert Mace

Texas water is as diverse as Texas. With 8 inches of rainfall in El Paso to 50 inches in Houston, Texans relate, use, and rely on water in many different ways. With the ever-present threat of severe drought and the ever-present opportunity of massive growth, Texas has become a leader in planning for and meeting water needs for various water categories. This presentation will focus on the story of water in Texas, and how Texas is addressing its need for more water. 

► PowerPoint

LSSS, RACSS & Editors: Avoiding Inartful Drafting (CLE)

Jamie Shanks, Legislative Attorney, Office of Legal Services for the Tennessee General Assembly

This session examines the realities of drafting and editing.  Examine terms of art; ordinary meaning vs. dictionary meaning vs. meaning as a whole; and versus or; and shall versus may. What are some of the judicial considerations?

Avoiding Inartful Drafting—handout

6:30 p.m.

RACSS & LSSS Dutch Treat Dinners

RACSS & LSSSS members may sign up to join others for Dutch Treat dinners at the Texas Chili Parlor, Scholz, Lavaca Teppan, or form your own group and discover an Austin restaurant!

6:30 p.m.

LRL Dutch Treat Dinner

All LRL attendees and guests are invited to join us at The Clay Pit restaurant for a fun evening and delicious Indian cuisine at our annual Dutch Treat dinner. Meet in the hotel lobby at 6:30 to walk to the restaurant as a group.

tuesday, oct. 6 | All RACSS & LSSS events at the Capitol except breakfast; LRL at Tarleton Library

7 a.m.-8:30 a.m.


7:30-8:15 a.m.

Continental Breakfast

8:15-8:30 a.m. RACSS & LSSS: Walk to Capitol | LRL: Travel to Tarlton Law Library
8:30 a.m.-11:45 a.m.

LSSS, Editors, RACSS - Concurrent Sessions:

LSSS, RACSS, Editors: The Case of the Errant Comma: A Trilogy of Comma Mysteries (CLE)
Jennifer Gilroy, Statute Revisor, Colorado

This program focuses on the critical importance of punctuation and editorial details in drafting the law. It takes a close look at the definition of "marijuana" in the Colorado Criminal Code, specifically the "Uniform Controlled Substances Act of 1992", as well as Colorado's recreational marijuana law set out in Section 16 of Article XVIII of the Colorado Constitution and evaluates the unintended impact that an errant comma can have. The presentation includes a study of two specific criminal cases currently pending in two different Colorado district courts to evaluate the way the courts will address the errant comma.

Errant Comma► PowerPoint

RACSS, LSSS & EditorsHow New Technology Helps the Texas Legislative Council Deliver 20,000 Documents Each Session

Brett Ferguson, Legislative Counsel, Texas Legislative Council
Paul Shelton, Programmer Analyst III, Texas Legislative Council

Explore the ways the Texas Legislative Council uses technology to improve the speed and efficiency of the drafting process. See live demonstrations of custom software used to track, search, draft, review, and edit legislation.

How Technology Helps Texas Legislative Council► PowerPoint

8:45 a.m.-11:45 a.m.

LRL: Trends in Librarianship & Library Services (8:30-noon)

One of the biggest challenges facing information professionals is staying up-to-date about available resources and issues. Resources can be print or electronic, and in-house or in other locations. This session will help attendees meet those challenges. Speakers will provide information on low- and no-cost electronic resources available for both legal and business research and provide an overview of the issue of authentication, especially as it is arising in the context of the Uniform Electronic Legal Material Act (UELMA). Following the presentations, tours of the University of Texas Tarlton Law Library and its Hyder Collection of law-related artwork will introduce a major resource available to researchers across the country. Attendees will leave this program ready to tackle information requests in some of the most frequently encountered fields, and will have learned about a major information resource available to assist them with their thorniest questions.

♦ Presentations
  8:45-9:15  Cost-Effective Legal Research (Andrew Florance)
  9:15-9:45  Basic Business Research (Joe Noel)
  9:45-10:15 Overview of UELMA and authentication (Barbara Bintliff)
10:15-10:30 break in Tarlton Staff Lounge
10:30-11:30 Tours of Tarlton (Tarlton librarians)
11:30-noon travel to State Capitol

9:45 a.m.-Noon

LSSS, Editors - Concurrent Sessions:

Editors: Contrasting Style Guides and Checklists
Moderator: Wendy Jackson, Administrative Services Manager, Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin Legislature
Come prepared to discuss editing issues, grammar questions and other issues that are important to your work.

LSSS: Legal Ethics (CLE)
Jeff Archer, Executive Director, Texas Legislative Council
Anita D'Souza, General Counsel and Chief of Staff, Office of the State Auditor of Texas
Bryan Hebert, General Counsel, Delisi Communications
Mark Moore, Texas Real Estate Commission
Christopher Griesel, Parliamentarian, Texas House of Representatives


The primary purpose of this course is to provide attorneys serving or employed in the legislative branch of state government with a continuing legal education program that focuses on problems and principles of ethical conduct and professional responsibility most relevant to in-house government attorneys, especially attorneys in the legislative branch.

9:45-11:00 a.m.

RACSS: Effective Communication with Legislators and Staff 
Presenter: Ken Levine, Director, Sunset Commission, Texas Legislature
Cindy Ellison, Senior Research Associate, Texas Legislative Council

Come listen as a panel of your colleagues with years of experience in the trenches (and the battle scars to prove it) share what works and doesn’t work when trying to truly understand what your legislator really wants. Committee staffers will share communication strategies they have found to be effective in a variety of different settings and circumstances. Come prepared to share your favorite war story and what has worked for you.
11:00 a.m.-Noon

RACSS: Staff Structures: What Does Your State Do?
Moderator: Charlotte Carter-Yamauchi, Acting Director, Legislative Reference Bureau, Hawaii

Panelists: Sheila Mason, Legislative Record Compiler/Intern Coordinator, Legislative Research Commission, Kentucky
Bradley K Krehely, Staff Attorney, Research Division, North Carolina
Katy Proctor, Director, House Majority Research Staff, Arizona
Peter Conroy, Senior Legislative Analyst, House of Representatives, Louisiana

During this session we will look at who we are as legislative staffers, what we do, how we operate, and how legislative staff are similar or distinct from one another across the country, using state staffing structures as a jumping off point for making comparisons.  The staffing structure models we will be using are: Highly centralized/Nonpartisan; Centralized, nonpartisan with some decentralized partisan elements; Middle road (partisan and nonpartisan staff); Decentralized with some centralized partisan elements.

12:15-1:30 p.m.


1:30-3:30 p.m.

Texas State Capitol Tour/Texas Legislative Staff Services
Speakers: Robert Haney, Chief Clerk, House of Representatives, Texas Legislature
Chris Griesel, Parliamentarian, House of Representatives, Texas Legislature
Karina Casari Davis, Parliamentarian, Lieutenant Governor’s Office, Texas
Jeff Archer, Executive Director, Texas Legislative Council

Attendees will divide into two groups, for a tour of the Texas State Capitol and a presentation on Texas legislative staff services.

3:30-4:45 p.m.

Concurrent Sessions:

LRL: Services of the Texas Legislative Reference Library/Library Tour
Hosts: Mary Camp and Catherine Wusterhausen

Learn about the services provided by the Texas Legislative Reference Library and tour their facilities in the historic State Capitol.

RACSS: Reflections on Legislative Service
Sabrina Lewellen, Deputy Director & Assistant Secretary of the Senate, Arkansas
Megan Comlossy, Senior Research Analyst, Legislative Counsel Bureau, Nevada
Bradley K Krehely, Staff Attorney, Research Division, North Carolina
Estella Smith, Administrator, Legislative Committee Staff, Bureau of Legislative Research

Hear perspectives and advice from legislative staffers in varying career stages as they discuss the satisfactions, disappointments, moments of humor and lessons learned throughout their years of service.

LSSS: Legislative Drafting, Legislative Intent, and Statutory Interpretation (CLE)
Thomas Vaughn, Associate General Counsel, Office of Legislative Research & General Counsel, Utah
This course will scrutinize statutory language that was drafted in an unclear manner. The presenter will discuss the errors made by the drafter and how the statute could have been drafted to clearly express legislative intent. The presenter will then discuss decisions reached by two appellate courts that interpreted the statute and reached different results.

Editors: Roundtable
Moderator: Wendy Jackson, Administrative Services Manager, Legislative Reference Bureau, Wisconsin Legislature
Panelists: Kira Mochal, WI, Legislative Editor, Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau
Jackie Gunn, ID, Legislative Editor, Idaho Legislative Services Office
Barbara McDonald, AR, Legislative Editor, Arkansas Statutory Review Section Bureau of Legislative Research
Clare Townes, Assistant Chief Legal Editor, Legal Division, Texas Legislative Council

5-6:30 p.m.

Welcome to the Texas State Capitol Reception
wednesday, oct. 7 | At the AT&T Conference Center

7:30 a.m.-Noon

Information Desk   

7:30-8:30 a.m.

Joint Breakfast

8:30-10 a.m.

U.S. Supreme Court Update (CLE)
Lisa Soronen, Executive Director, State and Local Legal Center

Lisa Soronen, Executive Director of the State and Local Legal Center, has filed amicus briefs on behalf of the states, represented the states in cases before the U.S. supreme court and is an expert on legal issues affecting the states. Hear an overview of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent term, and decisions in several cases with implications for states and states' rights.

Supreme Court Update  ♦ handout

Supreme Court Preview ► PowerPoint

10:15-11:45 a.m.

Social Media in a Legislative Environment and a Legal World:  Your Rights, Responsibilities, and Recourses (CLE)
Jon Heining, General Counsel, Legislative Council, Texas Legislature   ♦ Handout
Eddie Weeks, Legislative Librarian, Tennessee General Assembly

► PowerPoint, Part 1

► PowerPoint, Part 2

♦   Handout

The use of social media in legislatures and state government is becoming more prevalent. It is not unusual to see a legislator or a legislative agency with a Facebook page or a Twitter handle. While these immediate forms of communication can help legislatures stay in touch with a more technologically savvy audience, they do not come without legal dangers. There are privacy issues, concerns about liability and issues related to the speech and debate clause.

The legislative environment and the legal world are much, much older than the social media in use today. But, laws and consequences are catching up quickly. Does your legislature’s social media policy fit into the framework of the legislative environment and the laws that govern it?