Remaining Nonpartisan in an Increasingly Partisan Environment

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Most webinars will be recorded for those who are unable to attend the live meeting.

This webinar addresses the challenges faced by non-partisan staff in an increasingly partisan environment. The presenters discuss the importance and benefits of non-partisanship and tools that legislative staff attorneys, and other legislative staff, can use to remain non-partisan and maintain professional integrity while satisfying legislators that they are receiving excellent service.

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This program was designed to qualify for continuing legal education (CLE) credits in most states that have mandatory CLE. NCSL did not pre-apply for CLE. Those who want to view the presentation and submit it for CLE credit in their state may self-apply using a Uniform Application for CLE. However, final acceptance of CLE hours is the prerogative of your state’s CLE authority.



  • Thomas R. Vaughn, associate general counsel, Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, Utah
    Thomas R. Vaughn, who is from Spokane, Wash., graduated from the University of Idaho College of Law in 1996, and served as a deputy prosecutor in the Canyon County, Idaho Prosecutor’s Office from 1996 to 2004. He spent the first part of his service as deputy prosecutor in the criminal division, where he specialized in prosecuting drug crime. Vaughn then transferred to the civil division, where he represented the board of county commissioners and the several county offices. In 2004, Vaughn moved to Utah and took a position as a staff attorney in the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel, where he has worked for the past 10 years. Vaughn  drafts legislation in the areas of election law, campaign finance, and government ethics. He is also responsible for the office’s drafting manual and trains all new drafting attorneys hired by the office.
  • Rachele Hjelmaas, senior legal counsel, Legislative Services Agency, Iowa
    Rachele Hjelmaas received her law degree from the University of Iowa in 1988. Hjelmaas has worked as a law clerk for the Honorable Dick R. Schlegel of the Iowa Court of Appeals, as an attorney in the Office of the General Counsel for the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Washington, D.C., and as an assistant state appellate defender in Iowa. She is currently a senior legal counsel with the Legal Services Division of the Legislative Services Agency. She staffs the Judiciary and Public Safety Committees and the Joint Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Infrastructure, and Capitals Appropriations and drafts legislation in the areas of civil law, domestic abuse, victim rights, probate, OWI, weapons, civil commitment, public records, and infrastructure.

The Legal Services Staff Section (LSSS) and the Research and Committee Staff Section (RACSS) would like to thank the NCSL Foundation for State Legislatures for providing an e-learning grant to produce this webinar.