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Summit Returns With Robust Mix of Policy, Politics and Personalities

By Mark Wolf | Aug. 1, 2022 | State Legislatures News | Print

NCSL’s Legislative Summit is policy. And it’s leadership, teamwork, training and recognition. It’s networking and socializing.

Take it from the boss: “NCSL is thrilled to be hosting our 47th Legislative Summit in the Mile High City—and that it’s back to our normal turnout with over 4,700 legislators, legislative staff and others expected to attend,” Tim Storey, NCSL’s CEO and podcaster, says.

“The NCSL Summit is the largest gathering of public policy geeks in the United States each year. It brings together state lawmakers, staff, international parliamentarians, government officials, government relations professionals and many others to share solutions to the problems facing the states and the nation. They learn from each other and take home innovative ideas to strengthen their states and the legislative institutions they serve.”

The NCSL Summit is the largest gathering of public policy geeks in the United States each year. —Tim Storey, NCSL’s CEO

The Summit, which spent the pandemic buffing up for its muscular return, kicks off today and runs through Wednesday at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver.

From the front-line policymakers to the behind-the-scenes staffers and experts of all stripes, the Summit packs innovative ideas into dozens of sessions.

And stick around to the end: There’s dancing.

Policy on Tap

Remember when your dad would hit a pothole and mutter, “This would be a good place for a road”? Find out where those roads, bridges and other transit projects are being built with funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. Federal transportation and environment officials have the latest news.

Want insight and inspiration from tough competitors? We have Missy Franklin, winner of four individual Olympic gold medals in swimming, addressing the “Salute to Legislative Staff” and adventure racing world champion Robyn Benincasa speaking to Monday’s opening session. Clint Hurdle, who managed the Colorado Rockies to a berth in the World Series, will talk about how to get your goals around third and across the plate.

What would Summit be without elections and redistricting—especially this year? Charlie Cook, venerable political analyst and founder of the Cook Political Report, offers insight and analysis for the coming midterms. And we have sessions on ensuring election accuracy and two leading election attorneys talking about the independent state legislatures theory and how Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act comes into play in both redistricting and elections.

That box of Chocolate Cheerios costs how much? Nick Sly, economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, dives into the state of the U.S. economy and what could be on the horizon for the states. Another session deals with how supply chain issues have affected state purchasing practices.

In “The Resilient Legislature,” a first-of-its-kind panel of staffers discusses the ways remote voting, remote work, social distancing on the floor and other issues affected the legislature during the pandemic and what those challenges could mean going forward.

New Voices

Some of those kids you told to get off your lawn wound up winning seats in state legislatures. Several of them will talk about their experience as rookie lawmakers.

Women have risen to a historic high of 30% of legislators. You can learn about their journeys in the session “Turning Smart People into Smart Teams”—including the Missouri senators who celebrate their story in a new children's book, “You Can, Too.” And in another session, “Lessons in Leadership: Women in the C-Suite,” female CEOs share their stories and explore intersections with political leadership in a discussion with a policymaker who was named a top woman in business by the Colorado Women’s Chamber of Commerce.

The session “Essential But Unequal: The Pandemic’s Toll on Working Women” examines why, with much of the workforce recovered, over 1 million jobs held by women—most considered essential—have yet to return, and the economic and mental health challenges women face.

Walking the social media tightrope has never been trickier. How do you engage? How do you make sure it stays civil? In “How to Connect with Constituents,” a panel of lawmakers and staffers helps you map your way to success while avoiding potential pitfalls.

You mean real cops don’t solve every cold case in an hour like they do on CSI? In “Cracking a Cold Case,” an expert in genome sequencing and a Denver police officer who just solved a 40-year-old case discuss the latest methods.

And So Much More—With Fireworks!

Storytelling, investing in education, the future of child welfare, the costs of college, closing the digital divide, the census undercounts, the effects of incarceration on job-hunters—you can find all of it and more at this year’s Summit.

Among the timeliest sessions is “Supreme Court Center Stage,” in which the court’s historic 2021-22 term is dissected and analyzed by a pair of lawyers who each clerked for a sitting justice.

NASA has a lunar launch date later this month with mannequins, but we have a real-life astronaut at Summit. Matthew Dominick, product of D’Evelyn High School in suburban Denver, gives us an insider’s look at the Artemis Project, the space agency’s planned return to the moon in 2024. He’s joined in the closing session by “Shark Tank” host Kevin O’Leary, who offers insights about growing an idea and negotiating for success.

Can’t make it to Denver? We will stream 10 sessions you can enjoy at your leisure. But you’ll have to provide your own food, drinks, games, dancing, rock climbing, axe throwing and, finally, fireworks at the Mile High Extravaganza at the Sculpture Park next to the Convention Center as the 2022 Legislative Summit closes shop.

And we start planning for 2023’s Summit in Indianapolis.

Mark Wolf is a senior editor in NCSL’s Communications Division.

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