LRL Newsline Spring 2020


Chair's Corner

Welcome to the Spring 2020 issue of Newsline!

By Teresa Wilt (Nevada), LRL Chair 2019-2020

I wanted to write an article full of deep thoughts to inspire you all, but I have found lately I have neither the time nor the patience to read anything (other than fiction) that isn’t a bullet-point list. Therefore, some observations:

  • It’s a little weird to be judged “essential” or “nonessential.” I mean, I know the world will still revolve without me, but I haven’t been this conflicted about belonging to a specific group since middle school.
  • I hated middle school, so this is not a part of my personality I was hoping to rediscover.
  • Wearing headphones for conference calls makes me talk too loud.
  • A little ambient music is a good thing. Unless you are on a conference call.
  • The “mute” button is your friend.
  • Using an exercise ball in lieu of a desk chair leads to a lot of chair dancing (well, bouncing, really) to my ambient music.
  • It doesn’t matter as much what you are wearing during a conference call as it does how much you bounce during the call.
  • It’s a good idea to walk out some of that extra energy before the conference call.
  • I’m pretty sure conference calls were not in my job description.
  • It is very clear why job descriptions include “other duties as assigned.”
  • Even though I’m not actually getting paid for it, I’ve always considered watching the news to be an important part of my job.
  • But to be honest, it’s a coin toss these days whether I can bring myself to watch the news.
  • Everyone seems to be suffering from information overload, yet things are happening so quickly it’s hard to find the specific answers we are looking for.
  • I’m sure you’ve all experienced situations where there are a lot of questions and not enough answers.
  • And you probably noticed that when people don’t have answers they start to speculate.
  • Speculation without enough facts generally devolves to grasping at rumors and any little scraps of information without much regard for the initial source.
  • For some of us and our colleagues, it may seem like our only role is to stay home and not be a burden to the rest of the system.
  • But we are librarians, and if knowledge is power, then understanding how to sift through mounds of information to find that knowledge makes us powerful.
  • Fortunately for society, we are also (for the most part) a benevolent bunch.
  • Use your librarian expertise to help your colleagues, friends, and family through the “infodemic” by teaching good information hygiene habits, including how to evaluate the sources of that information.
  • OK, sure, I’m not a doctor or an economist, but I do know I can do better than random Google searches and social media posts. A librarian can always do more.
  • Even though we find ourselves in different places and different situations, we are all in this together. Stay healthy, consider the ripple effect of your actions on others, and do what you can to help your people find sound information. Whether you have been deemed “essential” or not, your training and skills are important right now. We will get through this challenge. I look forward to seeing you all on the other side of this, whenever that might be.

Mark Your Calendars

A photo of a spiral bound calendar with red bordered pages flutteringKeep an eye out for an upcoming LRL National Conference Call!
Connect with your fellow librarians in the legislatures, ask each other questions share ideas and innovations in an uncertain time. In a week or two LRL Liaison, Megan McClure, will be sending an email to the full membership with more information and an RSVP request.

Award and Officer Nomination Deadlines:
Legislative Staff Achievement Award nominations are due by Friday, April 24.
Notable Document Award Nominations are due by Thursday, April 30.
Nominations to become an officer of the LRL Executive Committee are due by Monday, April 27: Email to express your interest in becoming the newest member of the LRL Executive Committee.

Staff Week: May 4-8
Celebrate the dedication and hard work of legislative staff with a webinar, podcast, blogs and other activities and resources created specifically for legislative staff.

2020 NCSL Legislative Summit
The annual NCSL Legislative Summit will be held Aug. 10-13, 2020, in Indianapolis. Keep an eye out for additional programming details for legislative librarians and legislative staff in general.

Staff Hub ATL 2020 
The Staff Hub ATL 2020 joint professional development seminar will be held Oct. 7-9 in Atlanta, Ga Join colleagues from RELACS, NALFO, LINCS, NLPES, LSS and, of course, LRL. 

LRL @ Summit 2020

A photo of the Indiana State CapitolLRL has a full slate of plans in the mix for the 2020 NCSL Legislative Summit this Aug. 10-13 in Indianapolis, Ind. Professional development designed by and for legislative staff cover a wide array of topics, including how to use and communicate evidence to inform policymaking, preserving institutional knowledge, the Americans with Disabilities Act’s impact on legislatures, marketing the legislature and comprehensive communication training. There will be ample time for networking with not only other legislative librarians and researchers, but also staff in a variety of other roles from across the nation and world. LRL will be planning a Dutch treat lunch and dinner for members and two to three tours of local libraries and museums.

Prospective Library/Archive Tours:

Staff Hub ATL 2020 

LRL chair Teresa Wilt, along with representatives from five other staff associations, are busy planning the Staff Hub ATL 2020 meeting taking place in Atlanta this coming Oct. 7-9.

This is a unique gathering of legislative staff. During this meeting, six of NCSL’s professional staff associations will gather, creating a dynamic atmosphere for learning, collaborating and networking. Over the course of three days, you will sharpen your skills and explore a wide variety of topics, including research, evaluation, fiscal analysis, communications, bill drafting, editing, leadership and soft skill development. This professional development seminar is designed specifically FOR legislative staff BY legislative staff.

Participating Staff Associations:

  • Leadership Staff Professional Association (LSPA)
  • Legislative Research Librarians (LRL)
  • Legislative Information and Communications Staff (LINCS)
  • National Legislative Program Evaluation Society (NLPES)
  • National Association of Legislative Fiscal Offices (NALFO)
  • Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff (RELACS)

This meeting is meant to foster cross-pollination and shared learning between professional staff associations, increase overall attendance at a staff-focused meeting, learn about different staff functions and staff roles in the legislature, and increase synergy among the participating associations.

Nominations Open for 2020 Notable Document Awards 

Every year, hundreds of documents are produced through the work of state legislatures or to help support the work of state legislatures.

NCSL and the Legislative Research Librarians (LRL) professional association are looking for documents that go above and beyond and stand out from the pack

Each year, LRL sponsors the competition for outstanding state and legislative documents. Deadline for submissions is April 30.

Any state or legislative document published in the last two years is eligible. Submissions are generally made through each state’s legislative librarian, but any legislative staffer may submit documents.

The Notable Documents Awards:

  • Formally recognize excellence in state or legislative documents that explore topics of contemporary or historic interest to legislators and staff.
  • Showcase innovative formats and presentations of substantive material.
  • Advertise the extensive range of information available to legislators and staff.
  • Promote the exchange of information with other states.

Nominations Open for the LRL Legislative Staff Achievement Awards

Do you know a legislative staffer who goes above and beyond? Who does the field of legislative librarianship proud?

The annual Legislative Staff Achievement Award was created by the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee to recognize excellence in supporting the work of a state legislature and strengthening the legislative institution. Each of NCSL’s staff associations may name up to two recipients–individuals, teams or legislative offices–for recognition each year.  Recipients of the awards are presented with a plaque and are recognized by the NCSL staff chair during the legislative staff luncheon at the NCSL Legislative Summit.

This year’s committee consists of chair Catherine Wusterhausen of Texas, Lindsay Pealer from California and Anthony Aycock of North Carolina.

All members of LRL and legislative libraries are eligible for this award. Nominations may be submitted by the nominee, a supervisor or by other members of the staff association. Click here for more information, the nomination form and award criteria.

LRL Seeking Nominations for Executive Committee

The Legislative Research Librarians (LRL) professional staff association is seeking nominations for candidates to run for secretary. The deadline for declaring your candidacy is Monday, April 27, 2020. This year’s nominating committee is chaired by LRL Immediate Past Chair Betsy Haugen of Minnesota, along with LRL Vice Chair Eric Glover of Idaho and Travis Moore of Nebraska.

Under LRL Bylaws, the role of the secretary is as follows: “The secretary shall serve a one-year term and shall record minutes of all staff association meetings and perform additional duties as may be assigned by the chair. The secretary shall preside at LRL executive committee and staff section meetings in the absence of both the chair and vice chair. The secretary shall succeed the following year to the office of vice chair.”

The secretary serves for one year and then automatically moves up for one-year terms as vice chair, chair and immediate past chair. As vice chair and chair, you will serve on the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee, which meets four times a year in various fabulous locations. Attending these meetings is not mandatory, but it is valuable to LRL and you as it provides the opportunity to meet the officers from other staff associations, learn more about other states’ legislatures, and contribute to work that benefits all legislative staff.

For more information or to submit names of nominees, please contact Betsy Haugen and LRL liaison Megan McClure.

Applications Open for the Legislative Staff Management Institute

The deadline to apply for the 2020 Legislative Staff Management Institute (LSMI), the nation’s premier management and leadership development program for legislative staff, is Monday, May 2. Learn more at


Introducing the New Delaware Legislative Librarian!

By Joel Rudnick

My name is Joel Rudnick, and I am brand spanking new to the world of legislative libraries. (I write this on Dec. 20, 2019, well into my second week. Does this make me a veteran neophyte?) So far, I am finding my position fulfilling and my team to be intelligent, capable, enthusiastic and kind. The strange and wonderful thing is it is each and every person here. So glad! 

In the past, I have mostly served in academia, interning at Hillman Library and Finney Music Library at the University of Pittsburgh and working in a professional capacity in libraries at Goldey-Beacom College and Delaware Technical Community College. I have also served as treasurer of the Delaware Library Association’s Executive Board and have been active on their Legislative Action Committee.

I am well into the process of collecting good people. It is going quite nicely. I am proud, happy and thrilled to know and connect with a group of stellar associates, friends and loved ones. I also love music, reading, classical languages, art from a variety of cultures and periods and a handful of fun TV shows.

In my spare time, I am a superhero, though I cannot reveal my avocational name for fear of endangering the above collection of good people. My superpower is causing as little harm as possible. (I have but one weakness. Sadly, it is any sort of physical pain. Alas, this has made the superhero life difficult.)

Managing Library Services in Changing Times

By Travis Moore, Research Analyst with Nebraska’s Legislative Research Office

The Legislative Research Office is a nonpartisan division of the Nebraska Unicameral Legislature which provides policy and legal research to 49 legislators and their staffs, as well as other legislative divisions, state agencies and others outside of state government. Our office houses a library consisting of more than 6,000 titles, newspapers and periodicals.

In 2018, a major renovation project of the Nebraska State Capitol’s HVAC system began, which required legislative offices to relocate for approximately 18 months. The Legislative Research Office, located on the first floor of the state capitol was moved to a temporary office in September 2019.

In preparation for moving our office, I was responsible for developing the plan for relocating the entire library. Upon beginning the planning process it became apparent that a lot more needed to happen than just move books.

In the summer of 2019, I began to weed through our entire collection removing outdated materials, adding new materials and updating the catalog. Our online library catalog now accurately reflects the resources available in our office.

During this process I also prioritized which portions of our collection would go with us and which pieces would go into short-term or long-term storage. I worked with the Nebraska State Law Library and the Clerk of the Legislature’s Office to ensure access to critical research resources and historical information.

Our office provides access to over 45 periodicals, journals and newspapers. Currently, these resources are primarily available in print form, and most can be routed to legislative offices on request. Whenever possible, I am transitioning the delivery of our publications to a digital format. A photo of shelves in the Kansas Legislative Research Office VaultThis provides our users with faster and broader access to information. As more publications move to online only availability, our library is well-positioned to adapt to and use technology to streamline library services.

To maintain our relevancy, the Nebraska Legislative Research Office is making it a priority to proactively provide new information and promote the resources available in our library collection.

In the era of fake news and information overload, it is critical that legislators have access to resources that are factual and relevant. To assist legislators and staff, our office produces a digital publication we call our “library feature.” The feature highlights print materials available through our office and materials available online through a number of policy shops and think tanks.  In the past, the library feature has focused on subjects pertaining to education policy, provided links to articles on what states are doing on tax incentive evaluations, and highlighted new materials added to our reference collection.

As the methods of accessing information and technology change, our office is working to provide timely and high-quality information to assist legislators in crafting state policy.

Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee (LSCC) Fall Meeting Report

Winter LSCC/Executive Committee Meeting – Jan. 17, 2020

NCSL’s Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee (LSCC) serves in an advisory capacity to NCSL’s Executive Committee. LRL officers serve as members of the LSCC to represent the interests of LRL members and legislative staff before NCSL. The chair and vice chair of each of the professional staff associations of NCSL are members of the LSCC and each member of the LSCC is appointed to a workgroup and a subcommittee. Similar to legislative committees, these LSCC committees conduct the work of the LSCC and you can see the scope, goals and membership of each of the LSCC committees here.

The LSCC meets four times a year and recently held its Winter meeting in Austin, Texas, Jan. 17, 2020.

Below is an update on what was discussed.

The 2020 Super PDS Planning and Oversight Committee met in Austin and at this meeting determined a new name for the meeting, now called Staff Hub ATL 2020, with a tagline of Create I Connect I Collaborate. Be sure to bookmark this page to learn to learn more about this meeting and expect to receive updates through the LRL listserv and on the LRL webpage.

As a reminder, the LSCC Professional Staff Association Officers workgroup, of which the LRL officers are members, is reviewing the current NCSL Professional Staff Association overhead allocation formula. This formula determines the amount NCSL charges to a professional staff association to reflect the administrative costs of administering their annual professional development seminar. The LRL officers have been actively engaged in this conversation and the association will be updated should any changes be made to the formulas.

LRL Chair, Teresa Wilt, also serves on the LSCC Legislative Institution subcommittee. The subcommittee is focused on a few tasks this conference year and two of them may be of interest to LRL. The first is to explore options for staff to participate in a sponsored exchange program with the purpose being to give participating staff an opportunity to learn how their colleagues work in other legislatures operate and to further facilitate the exchange of ideas. Another task is to study staff retention issues in legislatures and then identify strategies to retain staff.

The Summer LSCC meeting was set for June 5, 2020 in Quebec City, Quebec. Because of the COVID-19 crisis this meeting has been canceled. The LSCC may meet virtually on that same day.

Library Question

An image of q question mark that is made up of many multi colored booksQuestion:

  1. Does your library charge a fee for research services or other services?
  2. How does your library handle legislative history requests from outside sources?



Helen Hanby

  1. In Alabama, there is no charge for research services.
  2. If an outside source asks for legislative history requests, it would be handled by me or one of the attorneys.


Christine Heider

The Arkansas Bureau of Legislative Research library provides research only to legislators and legislative staff—thus, there is no fee to the public as there is no standard public access. The Bureau does not have a structured library or a librarian to maintain and provide those services. When receiving requests from NCSL’s lrl listserv the request goes to the appropriate party within the Bureau or it is forwarded to an outside agency for a response. The Bureau only deals with the public at the request of a legislator. If the Bureau receives a legislative history request from the public for publicly available information, we generally require a Freedom of Information Act request for the information. Please note that most information can be found on our web site electronically at  

Joel Rudnick, legislative librarian

  • We do not charge for research services.
  • I am new to the position and am still working out how to handle outside research requests. I am the only legislative librarian for the State of Delaware. I do field all the requests, but am realizing the art of addressing the timing and depth on a case-by-case basis.

    Some things I have learned:
    • I am not always the best fit to answer a certain question. I am learning the art of lateral delegation. Directing someone to another agency is sometimes the best bet. Sure, I may be able to find the answer given considerable effort and time, but there may already be someone out there with the knowledge at their fingertips and the context to be able to anticipate other needs.
    • The Delaware Public Archives is right across the street from the General Assembly. In almost all cases, I have decided it is more appropriate for other agencies and outside sources to contact the Archives themselves. It is easy to spend hours there looking at microfilm, archival documents, etc.
    • Law firms sometimes have access to the materials they ask for. They are just hoping I get it sooner. If I say I can get it to them in a couple of days, they almost always email me back to say they have obtained the information in some other way.
    • If someone calls, I almost always ask them to email me their question. If they do not, I make the assumption that it is not that important to them or that they found their answer using another method. (I try to always ask if they have access to email, and if they are comfortable reaching out in this way.) 
    • Most importantly, I am learning that I only have so much to give. I am a stubborn man who sometimes has little sense of his own boundaries. Stubborn as I am, it will be invaluable to me to grow in this way. My life, with all its interests, intricacies, and challenges, matters more than any research question or position.    

Karen Mau

  1. No, we do not charge for our research services.
  2. We will do legislative history requests from outside sources for legislative offices; however, for everyone else, we ask patrons to come in and do their legislative history requests. We will also explain over the phone or email how to do legislative history with the resources available online. If out-of-state patrons request legislative history, we normally refer them to our Supreme Court Law Library, they have the ability to charge patrons for legislative history research. Here’s a link to our legislative history research webpage:


Eric Glover

  1. Research Services: Our library generally does not charge for such services unless the request will take more than a day to process. In those situations a fee is charged after the first two hours at the per hour pay rate of the lowest paid library employee who is qualified to process the request. Other Services: For on-site patrons, we charge $0.10 per copy after the first 20 copies. For off-site patrons, we charge $0.20 per page for copies and scans. We do not charge a fee for research or other services for legislators or legislative staff.
  2. We receive a fair amount of legislative history requests from outside sources. Our legislative histories can include copies of the original bill, amendments to the bill, statements of purpose and fiscal notes, committee hearing minutes and exhibits, interim committee hearing minutes and exhibits, final bill status, House and Senate journal entries, session laws and codified statutes. We encourage local patrons to visit our library and perform the research themselves. Otherwise, we explain that any request from a legislator, legislative staff, or government agency will take priority over a request from the public and that it may take several days to process.


Indiana State Library
Andrea Glenn

  1. There is no fee for research services, but copy/scan fees do apply:
  2. We can assist if provided with a citation or narrow search criteria for when a bill or rule was approved. We take in-state and out-of-state requests whether they are from individuals, government agencies, libraries, or law firms. An overview of legislative resources in the library’s collection are listed in this guide to Locating Indiana Government Documents: We will check online, print, and microfilm for introduced and final versions of legislation, rules, and related committee reports. We are often asked for legislative intent, but Indiana House and Senate journals do not contain transcribed debates. We charge copy/scan fees, limit of 50 pages. We may refer requests for materials not collected by the library to the Indiana Archives and Records Administration.


Illinois Commission on Government Forecasting and Accountability
Kimberly Bartosz

  1. We do not charge a fee for our services. We serve the staff and legislators of the Illinois General Assembly.
  2. We do not hand legislative histories or any reference/research questions to members of the general public. We will answer reference/research questions from other Illinois agencies or other legislative support agencies from out of state as a courtesy but we do prioritize any requests from Illinois legislators first.


Cindy Roupe, director of reference, State Library of Kansas

  1. The State Library of Kansas does not charge a fee for any services.
  2. We will help outside legislative inquiries by photocopying pages that show what dates actions on a bill took place, as well as pages from journals or pages from bills or reports. We refer extensive questions to a company in town who does legislative research and charges. We let them know that the company charges. Often what needs to be done is someone going to another office in the statehouse where minutes are kept on microfilm and photocopying those. We do not do this for anyone. For people who do not live in Topeka or are not willing to come in, this is an option. Most people seem glad to pay this company. Since so many things are online now, frequently all we have to do is send links and explain procedure or what to look for.


Kentucky Legislative Research Commission
Leslie Smith

  1. The only charges are photocopies at 15 cents per page, audio copies and video copies are $10.00
  2. The Library will respond to legislative history request from outside sources.


Thomas Frances, Poynter Library

  1. The Poynter Legislative Research Library serves the legislature and provides research only to legislators and legislative staff. The library provides information to outside requesters when we are the only source for the information, but most requests are referred to the State Library of Louisiana, Louisiana Department or House Administrative Services (see below).
  2. Legislative history requests are handled by House Administrative Services and not the library—


Annette Haldeman, manager, Reference Services, (DLS) Library

  1. The Maryland DLS Library does not charge Maryland General Assembly members and staff for photocopies. We allow 10 pages of free photocopies for staffers of other state agencies and after that, charge fees that we charge the public. For the public, we charge 10 cents per page if the photocopies are made in person and 15 cents per page if it is something we have to send out. In person photocopying is unlimited, while anything we have to send out would be limited to 35 pages. With the advent of better scanning capabilities within recent years and with some of our files being digital, we have not charged for digitized materials, by and large.
  2. As previously mentioned, we will do up to 35 pages for outside requestors (in some instances, a bit more if they are out of state or have some other type of hardship where they cannot make it to our library). If it is extensive research (a 500+ page committee file or multiple files with numerous pages) we ask them to visit in person or send a courier, clerk, etc. to make the copies and get what is needed.


Missouri Legislative Library
Nathan Elwood

  1. The Missouri Legislative Library charges no fees for research services, and is open to the public.
  2. While the State of Missouri does not keep Legislative Histories of bills, we will provide service to any patron requesting library materials such as committee minutes, journal notes, etc.,


Missouri State Library
Laura Kromer

  1. No, the Missouri State Library does not charge any fees for research or related services.
  2. For legislative history requests, the Missouri State Library informs patrons of the resources available to them within the Reference Services division. If the Division’s resources meet the patrons’ needs, our staff helps patrons access and use the materials. The State Library then also refers patrons to other appropriate information organizations, including the Missouri State Archives, Legislative Library, State Historical Society of Missouri, or Supreme Court Library, depending on the nature of the question.


Nevada, Research Library, Legislative Counsel Bureau
Stephanie Heyroth Wilcox, senior assistant librarian

  1. We do not charge a fee for any of our services. However, we do charge 5 cents a page for photocopies after the first five pages.
  2. We handle legislative history requests from outside sources with the same full response we provide inside sources. The only difference is we tell outside sources our Legislators' and staff’s requests take priority, which means they may have to wait a little longer.


New Jersey
Ingrid Hernquist, Manager, OLS Library Services

  1. We do not charge any fees.
  2. For outside legislative history requests, the library staff directs the person to the New Jersey Legislature Internet site, the New Jersey State Library website, or we tell the requestor to contact the New Jersey State Library at 609-278-2640.


New Mexico
Joanne Vandestreek, senior legislative librarian, Legislative Council Service

  1. Our library does not charge a fee for any research or photocopy services.
  2. Regarding legislative history requests from external patrons, we handle those in a similar fashion as requests from internal patrons. It is only during our legislative sessions that we would prioritize internal patrons’ requests over external ones and give external patrons a lengthier window by which we would respond (3-5 days).


North Carolina
Julia Covington, reference librarian, North Carolina General Assembly

  1. The North Carolina Legislative Library’s primary mission is to serve Legislators and legislative staff; however, the Library is open to the public for study and research purposes. The fees we charge are as follows: We charge members of the public $.10/page for photocopies and $1.25 for CD of audio recording of committee minutes—no charge for other state agency personnel.
  2. The Legislative Library staff will conduct legislative history research for Legislators and legislative staff. We will assist patrons who come to the library to conduct legislative research. For those outside of the Raleigh area, we recommend they use one of the private research services operating in town. 
  3. We prioritize internal patrons’ requests over external ones and give external patrons a lengthier window by which we would respond (3-5 days).


Ohio Legislative Service Commission Library
Debbie Tavenner

  1. There would be no fees for research services, but copying fees are sometimes requested. The charge is 5 cents per page, but are only requested when it goes over $2.00
  2. We try to assist persons outside the legislature with legislative history requests through various ways. We explain what sources are available and where they might be located, depending on the age of a bill.  We will sometimes provide copies of documents that were created by our agency or testimony that might have been saved in our agency’s bill files. Legislative history questions in Ohio does not have a standard response.


Christine Chen, administrative librarian, Office of Library Resources, Oklahoma Department of Libraries

  1. We don’t charge fees for research services (Lexis Advance and other online databases), we only charge ten cents per page for printouts. We also charge ten cents per page for making copies in the library.
  2. The Oklahoma Department of Libraries provides inquiring patrons with its "Oklahoma legislative intent and legislative history" document that explains potential resources used to compile a legislative history and how to access them. The document will soon be available on its website.


Donna Wheeler, Pennsylvania Senate Library

  1. We do not charge any fees.
  2.  We direct people to the Senate homepage. If they request information regarding committee reports, we look in our archive files.


Eddie Weeks

  1. No.
  2. Referral to the State Library and Archives.

We will only deal with the public at the request of a member. When such a request comes in, the materials are given to the member’s office for them to send to the constituent.


  1. The Texas LRL does not charge a fee for research services. We do charge fees for photocopies or scans requested by non-legislative agencies, with higher rates if the copies/scans are staff-prepared, rush orders, and/or require certifications.
  2. The Texas LRL's "guide to researching legislative history and intent" is available as a brochure and on our website. Librarians will discuss with public patrons the information they need to gather and the resources available to them to help their research. For patrons who require comprehensive legislative histories, the library maintains a list of research firms specializing in legislative intent.


LRL Reunion

Debbie Tavenner, Ohio Legislative Service Commission

Last October, I spent a wonderful weekend in Denver with Marilyn Johnson of North Dakota; Tracey Kimball of New Mexico; and Susan Gilley of Oklahoma, just for the fun of it. Among the things we did was have tea with Rita Thaemert, a former LRL staff liaison. Marilyn and Susan have organized such gatherings from time to time. Sometimes bigger, sometimes smaller. We all thought it would be fun to have an LRL Reunion, so they put me in charge of organizing it since I still have contacts with the current staff. Betsy said it was OK to use Newsline to get the word out and collect addresses of former and retired staff members who might be interested.

The tentative (and plans are very tentative) idea is to organize a reunion around the Super Professional Development Meeting Oct. 5-9, 2020, in Atlanta. Hopefully, there will be an overlap where we can all get together. Please notify your former colleagues who might be interested and either provide me with contact information, or ask them to contact me directly through email or regular mail. Use, or my address: Debbie Tavenner, 804 Neil Ave., Columbus, Ohio 43215

I am really excited about the opportunity to visit with former colleagues.

Resources for Staff Training

Image of a cartoon brain with arms, holding two dumbbells with the words "brain training" underneath

COVID-19 Resources Page for Legislative Staff

NCSL is committed to providing our members with timely responses to state research requests and the essential knowledge needed to guide state action. This page is updated daily to reflect new resources in policy areas ranging from education to health care costs and access. Check back often—resources will be updated as they become available.

Upcoming Webinars

NCSL Bill Information Service: For legislators and legislative staff only (this webinar is held on a monthly basis as an introduction to the NCSL Bill Information Service).

Archived Webinars
  • Legislative Staff Webinar Directory: A comprehensive and regularly updated list of archived NCSL webinars for legislative staff across a wide array of subjects, including COVID-19.
  • The ABCDE Method: A Tool for Maximizing Productivity: This quick 30-minute webinar, sponsored by NCSL's Young and New Professionals Group (YNP), is designed to give you one more tool in your productivity toolbox. Hear from renowned NCSL trainer Curt Stedron, as he explains the concept behind and how to use the ABCDE Method to increase not only personal but also office-wide productivity. Then hear from Heather Koszka, capitol office director for California Senator Brian Jones (R), as she explains how she was inspired by Stedron's presentation of the method and how she has adapted and implemented the ABCDE Method on multiple levels in her office.
  • Make Your Mark: Practical Tools to Expand Your Personal Presence: Presence. You know it when you see it. Yet did you know there are specific nonverbal skills that create "presence"? By increasing your awareness of your nonverbal communication, you can change how others perceive you. In this presentation, Rachel Beohm will give you concrete tools to communicate a positive, powerful presence.
  • Keys to an Effective Message – Story Principles, Focused Messaging, and Communication Styles | Wednesday, Nov. 20, 2019
    It’s crunch time in the legislature and you are finishing up a big, complex project. Now you need to distill all that work into a summary to share with colleagues or constituents. Communications coach Marianna Swallow will guide you through the steps to develop an effective message. She shares the keys to understanding different communication styles, identifying the main takeaway of your message, and using story principles to engage your audience.
  • Blurry Boundaries in Public Sector Social Media: Defining Clear Interaction Protocols - July 12: The public sector faces unique challenges with trying to react quickly to constituents yet comply with existing rules and guidelines about reactions and responses. Kristen Walker, a professor of Marketing at California State University Northridge (CSUN) will discuss how data are socially transmitted through everyday interactions and explain how this transmission requires new and flexible (macro) interaction protocols to withstand technological innovation in data-driven environments for data-driven decisions. Moderating interactions requires more than trust and transparency and must include education and verification strategies.
  • De-escalation Techniques for the Legislature: This webinar focuses on de-escalation techniques to consider when dealing with potentially violent people you may encounter within and outside the legislature.
  • Sexual Harassment Prevention: Legislatures across the country are taking a renewed look at their anti-sexual harassment policies and procedures. Hear from two legal experts on the best way to approach this difficult topic.
  • The American Court System: Between the two court systems (federal and state), the levels of courts within each system (trial and appellate), and the odd terminology (amicus curiae brief) it is difficult to understand how the American court system works. This session will cover the basics of how a case proceeds through the courts.
  • Be the Change: Culture, Leadership and Self Reflection: Working in the legislature can be intense with long hours, looming deadlines and competing priorities. Patrick Sullivan, director of Montana's State Professional Development Center, is an expert on how to prevent this hectic environment from leading to a siloed team. Whether you are a new or veteran staffer, join us for this webinar to learn more about the context of the inward mindset as it applies to workplace culture and how you can have an impact on the effectiveness of your team.
  • Public Service in Difficult Times: The public sector, legislatures included, has faced intense criticism and scarce resources for many years now. There are techniques available to public employees to not only cope with these challenges but to thrive. This webinar explores various ways in which legislative staff can expand their capacity and practice self-care in challenging times. The key is to transform our mindset from one that is in “survival mode” to one that seeks ways to be helpful and solution-oriented.
  • Speaking with Authority: This professional development webinar, co-hosted by NCSL's Young and New Professionals (YNP) group and Women's Legislative Network, aims to help participants learn to increase self-awareness and personal brand when communicating daily. Whether you are a legislator headed into session or a legislative staffer gearing up for January, we all need to be concise, clear and credible. Ditch those phrases and words that undermine your authority, replace them with words that have impact, making you the expert.
  • Keys to Effective and Engaging Presentations: Presenting complex information to colleagues and policymakers in a concise manner is a challenge—whether you have an hour or 10 minutes. Learn from communications coach Marianna Swallow the steps to delivering an effective presentation and speaking like a pro. She shares the keys to designing an effective presentation, tips to revise and sharpen your talk, and strategies to make your delivery compelling. 
  • COVID-19: Communicating in a Crisis: This podcast is one in a series NCSL is producing to focus on how states are taking action in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The podcasts and a new webinar series look at public health responses, workplace issues, education and childcare, the economy, elections and continuity of government.
    On today’s episode, we talk with two legislative veterans about communicating in a crisis.
  • Mindfulness: Legislative Staff Elixer: Working in state legislatures is a very demanding job. State legislative staff serve in an institution where workload changes can come often and swiftly. The shifting nature of legislation and the mixture of public opinion, rules, procedures and process make session work stressful. But for the estimated 30,000-plus legislative staff that work in legislatures during session, most will tell you the work is rewarding.
  • Tackling Sexual Harassment in the Legislature: Sexual harassment, spurred primarily the #metoo movement, has been front to the forefront of every sector—including government. In this episode, we talk with three experts to get a sense of what types of changes are happening in state legislatures and to find out what types of best practices they should consider.
  • Brain Science for Legislators and Staff: Working in the legislative arena is not always easy. There are long hours, long stretches of sitting at a desk, a need to multitask and often a lack of sleep. Stacy Householder of the National Conference of State Legislatures shares six brain rules designed to help legislators and legislative staff be more effective. Her recommendations are based on research and its relevance for those working in legislative chambers.
Magazine Articles
  • Toolbox for Legislative Staff: A collection of all of the Staff Toolbox articles from State Legislatures magazine.
  • Reorient Your To-Do List to Unlock Your Productivity Potential: The start of a new legislative session offers the chance for a fresh start. To do things differently this time around, to create new (ideally good!) habits and routines. To make better use of time with the hope of feeling slightly less depleted at the end of the session.
  • Yes, No, Maybe So: Monthly feature on ethics questions pertaining to state legislatures
Other Resources

NCSL Publications


April 2020

March 2020

February 2020

January 2020

December 2019