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NALIT News | Winter 2022

February 22, 2022

Webinars and Presentation Materials

NCSL holds meetings on many topics relevant to legislative staff working in information technology. Here are a few recent webinars or handouts that may be useful.

Modernizing Today’s Workforce for Tomorrow’s World

COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of emerging technologies and highlighted the importance of connectivity to industry competitiveness. Employers and workers need new skills, training and workplace tools. Come discuss what policymakers can do to ensure an adaptive and robust workforce of the future through incentives, training programs and new technologies.


To Pay or Not to Pay Cyber Crooks—That is the Question

In ransomware attacks, a criminal threatens to publish or block access to a victim’s data unless a ransom is paid. Whether to pay up can be a tough call. Cyber insurance policies are a tool to combat cybercrime and may pay ransoms. But do such policies—and ransom payments—possibly encourage more cyberattacks?


Demystifying the Dark Web

Learn about the parts of the internet and how the deep or dark web, while anonymous, is not always used for nefarious purposes.

Watch (NCSL login required)

Tech Tools to Engage Constituents

Legislative staff who supervise others will learn about coaching and the tools for shifting the focus of interactions with others.

Watch (NCSL login required)

Cybersecurity: Would You Like to Play a Game?

Hear experts discuss how they built and trained their CERTs, explore the key components and policies required to make them work, and learn how to simulate cyber incidents so your CERT can be prepared.

Watch (NCSL login required)

Get Ready for Session: Presentation Skills

Public speaking is said to be one of people’s great fears. Legislative staff, however, are often required to present complex information to legislative committees and other groups. This workshop offers tips on developing the confidence and capability to give presentations that clearly convey essential information while keeping the audience engaged.

Watch (NCSL login required)

Looking back and then, Forward

By Nate Rohan, Deputy Director, Legislative Technology Services Bureau, Wisconsin

Greetings to the membership of NALIT!  As we settle into our legislative sessions, it is a natural time to reflect on the year that just ended and the new year beginning.

It might be fair to say that 2021 was when we settled into our “new normal,”  Vaccines became available in the spring, and in the summer, we saw glimpses of what a future with vaccines could look like, which for many was our legislatures settling back toward in-office (or into hybrid) work.  Now with the omicron variant, these approaches may continue to adjust, but the unknowns of how to make IT work during the pandemic are known—we’ve settled into our new normal.

As we move through 2022, NALIT members look forward.  We look to the challenges ahead, such as retention and recruitment in the face of an incredibly tight IT labor market, or to the impacted supply chain which puts our IT initiatives on delayed timelines that leave shorter windows to implement.  But we also look forward to another year of experiences, of fresh idea and perspectives, and of new opportunities to define our paths ahead.  What better way to tie all these together than networking and collaborating with our NALIT peers!  We’ll have several opportunities to do so, including a couple of in-person meetings this year:

  • NSCL Legislative Summit & NALIT Business Meeting in Denver, Aug. 1-3
  • NALIT Professional Development Seminar in Madison, Wisc., Sept. 27-Oct. 1

I know many of us are excited to return to an in-person PDS.  And, after two years affected so heavily by the pandemic, it seems fitting to hold it in my home state of Wisconsin, where the state motto is “Forward.”  Hoping to see many of you there!

Letter From the Chair

Hello, NALIT members!

By Soren Jacobsen, Chair, NALIT Executive Committee

I hope everyone’s new year is off to a great start, regarding both your legislative sessions as well as your personal lives, health, etc.  I know it’s a busy time of year and I appreciate you taking a little time to get caught up with what we are trying to accomplish this year with NALIT.

Toward the end of last year, we put out a call for volunteers to serve on the NALIT Executive Committee, and I’m delighted to report we were overwhelmed with qualified—and, really exceptional—candidates, far too many, relative to the number of positions available.  As such, I’ve asked many of them to chair committees for NALIT.  Due to a Legislative Summit that was late in the year last year, we have a short calendar to work with, but we also have an enthusiastic group of directors and committee chairs who I’m proud to introduce below.  

First, I’d like to share with everyone our plans for the NALIT Professional Development Seminar (PDS) this year.  Thanks to what I cannot call anything but “fortitude,” Madison Wis., has come through for us yet again (this is the third straight year we’ve tried to host our PDS there) and we have a confirmed set of dates for this year, Sept. 27-Oct. 1. This year's PDS schedule is a little different, starting later in the week (Wednesday morning) and continuing through a full day of terrific sessions on Friday, so, make sure you plan your travel accordingly. Nate Rohan, our NALIT vice-chair is doing double duty, and terrific work, as the PDS Planning Committee chair. This PDS promises to be special.

While on the topic of meetings, this year the Legislative Summit (Aug 1-3 in Denver) is somewhat abbreviated and, as such, will not have quite the number of staff related sessions it usually does. NALIT is working toward creating some collaborative sessions with other staff associations to boost our signal a bit.  Our Summit host-state chair, Manish Jani, is also cooking up some activities to bolster NALIT Return on Investment for the shorter meeting, including a state capitol tour and a NALIT roundtable discussion.

Kurt McDowell is chairing our Website/Communications Review Committee. Their objective(s) this year: In keeping with our standing orders, this committee will evaluate and develop guidelines for such things as frequency of updates, content, ADA compliance, and other matters related to the web page. Additionally, this year I’ve charged this committee with looking into our general communications practices (e.g., listserv effectiveness et. al.).

The Webinars and Other Outreach Committee is chaired by Tim Banaszak. The objectives include examining how we continue our successful webinar efforts and other outreach efforts. The objectives being to do so A) without compromising our PDS’s attendance/value etc. and B) to grow the national base of participation/involvement in NALIT.

We also have a NALIT PDS Budget Surplus Evaluation working group, chaired by Adam Ford with the following objective. Due to sponsor support, NALIT PDS’ often run at a profit, which has resulted in a PDS budget surplus. This working group will look at possible ways to automatically trigger spending of this money toward professional development efforts when the surplus reaches a certain amount. This group should also establish a method for determining an appropriate floor, under which this triggered spending does not occur, so that we do maintain some rainy-day funds.

Jim Bell is heading up our Bylaws and Standing Orders Review Committee. This year may bring a few more changes than usual due to some of the projects other teams are undertaking.  So, in addition to the regular bylaws/standing orders review, e.g., does Article 6.4.f need updating now that we are blogging rather than producing a newsletter? Jim’s team will also be working in conjunction with other working groups to prepare any bylaw/standing order changes that might be necessary from that group’s activities, e.g., handling of PDS surplus funds.

Each of these chairs will be reaching out for a few interested NALIT members to assist with their work. Watch for these missives soon if you are interested in helping with any of these projects. It’s a great way to get involved with a project outside of your day-to-day work, and to maybe do a temperature check on whether you’d like to get more involved with NALIT leadership in the future.

I’d like to take a little time to acknowledge and thank the members of the current NALIT Executive Committee: Nate Rohan, vice-chair; Dave Burhop, secretary; Jeff Ford, past chair; and directors Mike Norris, Dave Warycha, Amber Snyder, Vinay Dattu, Jonathan Harris, Linda Wettstone. All of them have had to listen to me talk via Zoom more than anyone should have to, and, more importantly, have stepped up to help us accomplish our goals in this truncated year. When I look at this leadership team, I’m thrilled for the future of our professional association.

I’d also like to give a special and specific nod to two people.  First, Jeff Ford who—because of COVID—wound up serving NALIT for a rather unprecedented four years (two as Chair). Jeff has been a great mentor and I’m grateful for the two years I had to unofficially serve as “sponge” (aka vice-chair). Secondly, Kae Warnock has been so much more than a guiding light while navigating everything from shuffling canceled PDSs to LSCC responsibilities, all while being an ultra-reliable source of personal counsel.  Whatever success we do have this year will be riding on rails they laid down for us.

It is both an honor and pleasure to serve you and the Executive Committee as NALIT chair.  I’m looking forward to seeing many of you at Summit and/or the PDS in Madison.

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