RELACS Virtual Meetings Series

8/21/2020

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The Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff (RELACS) professional association is proud to present a multi-part series of interactive webinars and virtual meetings—beginning in July—geared toward legislative staff who conduct research, draft and edit legislation, examine legal issues, and staff legislative committees.

This series will begin with a two-part review of the latest term of the US Supreme Court in July and will include discussions on constitutional issues that may affect remote sessions; emergency powers and legislative oversight; bill drafting; keeping legislative staff engaged; using electronic tools efficiently in online editing; and other issues.

These sessions will feature legislative staff, NCSL staff and other experts. Participants will have the opportunity to share what is happening in their state and ask questions.

Supreme Court Roundup: Part 1

The U.S. Supreme Court had an exciting term with groundbreaking cases and a pivot to virtual oral arguments. Watch a recap of the webinar and hear from the State and Local Legal Center Chief Counsel and Executive Director Lisa Soronen discuss the most meaningful and impactful Supreme Court cases with state impact. This was the first of two distinct programs and focused on the biggest cases decided this term.

Speaker: Lisa Soronen, executive director, State and Local Legal Center (SLLC).

View Webinar

Supreme Court Roundup: Part 2

The U.S. Supreme Court had an exciting term with groundbreaking cases and a pivot to virtual oral arguments. Watch a recap of the webinar and hear from the State and Local Legal Center Chief Counsel and Executive Director Lisa Soronen discuss the most meaningful and impactful Supreme Court cases with state impact. This was be the second of two distinct programs and focused on cases granted for the October 2020 term.

Speaker: Lisa Soronen, executive director, State and Local Legal Center (SLLC).

View Webinar

Let's Zoom

Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2020 | 3 p.m. ET/ 2 p.m. CT/ 1 p.m. MT/ Noon PT

Take a crash course in Zoom.  Learn to navigate basic and advanced Zoom operations to better facilitate remote meetings in 2020 and beyond. Learn tips and tricks to make your next meeting a success. Learn the settings that will enhance security, how to share your screen and use PowerPoint, run a Zoom poll, and run breakout rooms for your participants. Bring your questions and leave with a better understanding about how to effectively use the platform.

Speaker:  Kae M. Warnock, policy specialist, Legislative Staff Services, NCSL

To register please email RELACS (This meeting is open to legislators and legislative staff only.)

Emergency Powers and Legislative Oversight

Friday, Sept. 11, 2020 | 3 p.m. ET/ 2 p.m. CT/ 1 p.m. MT/ Noon PT

Most governors issued emergency declarations this year regarding COVID-19. In many states, the laws regarding executive emergency powers were put in place when state constitutions were first drafted. Until the pandemic reached the United States, however, these executive powers had not been tested rigorously. What questions should legislatures be asking about these laws? Does a legislature have authority to intervene in a public health crisis as quickly and completely as it may want or need to? This session will examine existing emergency powers and efforts by lawmakers to exercise legislative oversight.

Moderator:  Tom Bottern, director, Senate Counsel, Research and Fiscal Analysis, Minnesota

Speakers:

  • Raúl E. Burciaga, director, Legislative Council Service, New Mexico
  • Julie Pelegrin, deputy director, Office of Legislative Legal Services, Colorado
  • Claire Ness, counsel, Legislative Council, North Dakota
  • Emily Thompson, code revisor, Legislative Council, North Dakota
  • Andrea Brauer, staff attorney, Legislative Council, Wisconsin

To register please email RELACS (This meeting is open to legislators and legislative staff only.)

Virtual Events: Engagement Is Key

Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020 | 3 p.m. ET/ 2 p.m. CT/ 1 p.m. MT/ Noon PT

In the COVID-19 era, much of our work has moved online. Most of our legislative business, from meetings to presentations to constituent interactions, exists in the virtual world. This reality requires a new way of thinking about participant engagement. You'll gain a set of online best practices designed to increase the impact and efficacy of your online interactions.

Speaker: Curt Stedron, director of legislative training, NCSL

To register, please email RELACS (This meeting is open to legislators and legislative staff only.)

Remote Sessions: Examining Constitutional Issues

Date TBD

During the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, for the first time in history some legislatures convened remotely or partially remotely and adapted debate and voting procedures to allow for remote participation. In some states, public and media access to the capitol has been limited, and, as a result, the processes for testimony before legislative committees have changed. Do these changes to debate and voting procedures, public testimony and public meetings align with state constitutions? A panel of legislative attorneys will discuss how legislative processes have changed in the wake of COVID-19 and whether there are constitutional issues with these changes.

Speakers:
  • TBD

To register please email RELACS (This meeting is open to legislators and legislative staff only.)

Using Electronic Tools Efficiently in Legislative and Research Editing: When Crisis Presents Opportunity

Date TBD

Legislative and research editors are accustomed to looking for issues of grammar and syntax and communicating those issues using pen and paper. But 2020 has been the year of editing remotely and exploring innovative technology for paperless processes. What practices or electronic tools can help editors do their work from home? This session will examine editing innovations that have been discovered during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speakers:

  • TBD

To register please email RELACS (This meeting is open to legislators and legislative staff only.)

Redesigning Written Reports for Online Viewing

Date TBD

COVID-19 has drastically affected the work of legislative staff, including the way legislative staff prepare reports for the legislature. Legislators are busier than ever, many are working remotely, and much of what they read is accessed on a computer screen. Redesigning lengthy written documents as more concise, digital files requires an understanding of how to synthesize data and use visually descriptive tools to convey information. This session will explore ways to redesign written reports for online viewing.

Speakers:

  • TBD

To register please email RELACS (This meeting is open to legislators and legislative staff only.)

Read and Evaluate Research: Vetting for Accuracy and Objectivity

Date TBD

Unlike articles published in established law reviews and medical journals, information online is not always checked for accuracy. There are even some online science “journals” that are not real. As researchers, legislative staff must gather the most accurate information on the policy issues they are asked to study. When there is bias, they must identify that and provide all sides of the issue. But, how do we gather information and determine its source and reliability? Legislative staff with expertise on vetting research will help participants navigate online sources and discuss the best ways to evaluate for reliability and credibility.

This webinar will be open to all legislators, legislative staff and NCSL partner organizations.