NCSL Women's Legislative Network News for May 2017


Women's Legislative Network


BrendaGilmoreHello to my friends and colleagues,

Many of us have completed or are nearing the end of our legislative sessions. I hope your states enjoyed lively and productive policy deliberations. For those of you who have experienced your first-ever session, congratulations! I’d love to hear how things went. Please reach out and let me know what you learned, what surprised you, and how the Women’s Legislative Network can assist you going forward.

We hope to see many of you at the NCSL Legislative Summit in Boston this August. Our schedule of events is below. Please join us to share your expertise and to learn together. Also, please submit your ideas about what you’d like to see at the Summit and at future meetings.

The network is bipartisan and includes every female legislator in the states and territories. Consider applying to the network’s board of directors and help shape our future. There are several positions coming open this summer, and details are below.

I wish you all the best in your work,
Kristin Conzet
State Representative, South Dakota
President, Women’s Legislative Network of NCSL
Email me

Women's legislative network resources

Preliminary schedule of events at the Legislative Summit

Summit LogoRegister today and plan to join us in Boston. All network events below are open to Summit attendees, and no additional registration is required. View our complete schedule here.

Sunday, Aug. 6
8-11 a.m.
Making Your Case: Effective Communication    
When the public policy topic at hand is particularly important to you, it is critical to be able to state your position persuasively and succinctly. Attend this workshop to learn how to craft and deliver an argument to advocate for what you believe in, and how to tailor your messages for different circumstances. We will discuss how to be assertive without coming across as unyielding, how to disagree respectfully, the importance of nonverbal cues, and how to put these techniques into practice.
Speaker: Catherine Johns, Illinois

11:30 a.m-1 p.m.
Women's Legislative Network Board Meeting   
Join us to review the network’s activities, plan for the year ahead, and share news from your state.

4:30-5:30 p.m.
Women's Legislative Network Roundtable Discussions           
Join us for informal discussions about women in politics and the top issues of 2017.

Monday, Aug. 7
5-6 p.m.
Joint Reception of the Women's Legislative Network and the NCSL Foundation
Please join the NCSL Foundation and the Women's Legislative Network to recognize Foundation sponsors and celebrate women in politics.

Tuesday, Aug. 8
7:30-9 a.m.
Women in Politics Breakfast          
Join the Women's Legislative Network for breakfast and a lively discussion about women's political leadership. Session will include the election of the 2017-2018 network board.
Panelist: Barbara Lee, founder and president, Barbara Lee Family Foundation.

Wednesday, Aug. 9
9:30-10:45 a.m.
From Playrooms to Boardrooms: Encouraging STEM Careers for All
Education research touts the benefits of ensuring that all children, from an early age, are exposed to and encouraged to explore the STEM areas of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. STEM education jobs are expected to grow by 33 percent by 2020, and currently, women account for less than 30 percent of science and engineering jobs. Hear from GoldieBlox founder Debbie Sterling, whose books, toys and apps build confidence in STEM areas, and learn how state legislators can nurture young entrepreneurs in these areas from early childhood through beginning their careers.
Speaker: Debbie Sterling, GoldieBlox

Share your initiative that supports women's leadership!

We need your help!

The network has hosted numerous focus groups, discussions and surveys among female legislators in recent years, and one point of common ground that arises is that legislators want to support more women running for office. We will offer a tool to make it easier for legislators to work with women in their communities. If you want to reach out to women, but don’t know where to start, we want to help. The Women’s Legislative Network is developing a guidebook of programs and initiatives to support the leadership and political participation of women and girls. It will be a handbook of sample initiatives that legislators can replicate and adapt in their own states.

We are interested in programs such as:

  • A legislator shadowing program for school-aged girls.
  • A political essay contest for awards or scholarships.
  • A speech given to audiences of women about how they can get involved in the political process.
  • A women’s leadership development program run by a women’s caucus.

We recognize that there are many wonderful trainings and programs organized by national groups (partisan and nonpartisan) and state political parties, but we are not seeking to include them here. We are interested in legislator-sponsored or legislator-originated programs that another individual legislator could replicate. 

Please share what you’ve done using our online form here

Apply to the Women's Legislative Network Board

The Women’s Legislative Network Board has seven positions open for the two-year term of 2017-2019. We welcome your enthusiasm and ideas for delivering great programs and trainings for women legislators.

Open positions:

  • President-Elect (Republican)
  • Vice President (Democrat)
  • Eastern Regional (Republican)
  • Eastern Regional (Democrat)
  • Midwestern Regional (Democrat)
  • Southern Regional (Republican)
  • At-Large (Democrat)

More information about the positions and the online application is here.

The deadline to apply is June 16.

Women in Politics Making a Difference Awards: Nominations Open!

The Women's Legislative Network celebrates the contributions of America’s female state legislators and will recognize four outstanding women this summer. We will recognize and profile four women who are making their marks in their legislatures and communities. We invite you to nominate a woman who inspires you.

Submit the nomination form here. Nominations are due by June 30.

Read about the 2016 award winners here.

News from the States and territories

There are at least 23 states with a women’s legislative caucus. Review NCSL’s list of state women’s caucuses here. If we have missed your state caucus, or you have any personal updates, please let us know.

Louisiana Legislative Women's Caucus Scholarships

Louisiana Caucus LogoThe Louisiana Legislative Women's Caucus is pleased to announce the 2017 Louisiana Legislative Women's Caucus Foundation Scholars. Eleven women and girls were recognized at a ceremony in Baton Rouge on May 9, and a total of $21,500 in scholarships were awarded.

The Women's Caucus created the prestigious Women of Excellence Awards in 2008 to recognize and honor the exemplary achievements and contributions of extraordinary Louisiana women and girls, who personify excellence in leadership, profession, academics, community service, character and integrity.

"We count it is as a privilege and an honor to help these outstanding young women achieve their academic goals, which are vital to their successes in life," said Women's Caucus Chair Senator Yvonne Colomb.

Read more about the 2017 LLWC Foundation Scholars here.


Kids and Kites Group PhotoTennessee State Representative Brenda Gilmore sponsored the 8th annual Kids and Kites event in Nashville last month. The community favorite gives children the opportunity for a fun day in the park while raising awareness about the importance of healthy lifestyles and spotlighting organizations working against childhood obesity.

“Flying kites is a lost art with children,” Gilmore says. “Many children today don’t know how to fly kites and have never flown a kite a day in their lives. The purpose of Kids and Kites is to bring awareness to reducing childhood obesity. We put together something fun, a fun way to teach healthy lifestyles and healthy behaviors. It is especially important here because Tennessee is in the top five states in the country for incidence of obesity.”

U.S. Virgin Islands

Sen. Janette Millin YoungOn July 21, Women Striving for Success, Inc., a local, non-profit women’s business organization founded by U.S. Virgin Islands Senator Janette Millin Young, will host its fifth annual empowerment conference. Every year the conference draws together approximately 200 participants on the island of St. Thomas to hear from speakers who work in both the public and private industry, locally and nationally. The panels and keynote sessions seek to empower first time business owners and employees seeking to climb the corporate ladder with the keys to how to progress in their careers and meet their goals.

NCSL Resources

Free Webinar May 24: Preschool Effects: What the Research Does and Does Not Say

WebinarBetween 2002 and 2015, state spending on preschool programs nearly doubled from $3.3 billion to $6.2 billion, according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. While mostly pointing to the positive educational benefits of high-quality preschool, some educational research has found the effects may fade out over time.

This webinar aims to bring consensus answers from top early childhood education researchers to questions such as:

  • Do preschool effects last?
  • What does high-quality preschool look like and how much does it cost?
  • Who benefits most from high-quality preschool?

Register for the free webinar here.

The American Democracy Game

Democracy Game ImageDid you know that NCSL produced our very own civic education game? Through the American Democracy Game, you can put yourself in the shoes of a lawmaker and find out what it is like to deal with public policy issues. Discover the different interests on each side of an issue and how negotiation and compromise can lead to a good result.

This online game, developed by NCSL's Trust for Representative Democracy, is designed for middle school students and includes teacher guides and information. Learn more and play the game here.

Reasonable and Prudent Parenting Legislation

One important way states are working to improve young people’s transition from foster care into adulthood is to ensure that youth have the opportunity to engage in a range of developmentally and age-appropriate experiences necessary for healthy emotional and social development. The federal Preventing Sex Trafficking and Strengthening Families Act of 2014 now requires states to implement a “reasonable and prudent parenting standard" giving foster parents the authority to make day-to-day decisions affecting children in their care regarding extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, social or sporting activities. A number of states define reasonable and prudent parenting standard to mean “careful and sensible parental decisions that maintain the child’s health, safety and best interest.” Read more about state enactments regarding reasonable and prudent parenting here.

How States Protect Pipelines from Excavation Damage

Energy MarkingsMore than 2.6 million miles of pipelines crisscross the United States, with most of them buried underground. Every year, they deliver trillions of cubic feet of natural gas and billions of barrels of crude oil and other petroleum products necessary for electricity generation, transportation, and heating and cooling. Excavation damage is among the primary causes of pipeline damage. Every state has its own excavation damage prevention law—often referred to as a “One-Call Law” or “811 Law”—that establishes requirements for both excavators and operators of underground infrastructure, along with structural and procedural requirements on the part of the state. However, the specific requirements and the level of enforcement of those laws can vary considerably from state to state. Read more about the laws and review an interactive map here.