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NCSL YNP Newsletter | Spring 2024

Young and New Professionals 

The NCSL YNP Newsletter is a biannual collection of news, events and member profiles created by and for legislators and legislative staff who are new to the legislature. 

The mission of the NCSL Young and New Professionals Group is to engage, educate and support the state legislative leaders of tomorrow through targeted professional development, networking opportunities and recognition. 

Spotlight on YNP 

Oklahoma Representative Daniel Pae 

Q: How long have you been in your seat? 

A: Six years 

Q: What motivated you to run for office? 

A: I was born and raised in Lawton. To be honest, politics was not my initial passion in college at the University of Oklahoma. After realizing that participating in student government interested me more than taking pre-med courses, I decided to take a different path that led to internships at both the state and federal levels of government, along with serving as OU’s Student Government Association president. Furthermore, it was not my intent to run for elected office immediately after graduating from OU, but as I have now learned, you do not choose the moment to lead—the moment chooses you. I ignored the polls, focused on door knocking, and persevered to win by a margin of 42 votes. 

In my view, public service is a noble vocation because of how it emphasizes serving one’s community, advocating for positive changes, and making decisions based on common interests and needs. So long as I have the honor of serving in this position, I will keep challenging the status quo to prove that common decency and pragmatism are possible in modern politics. 

group shot including Oklahoma Representative Daniel PaeQ: What work are you most proud of? 

A: During the 2020 legislative session, four of us—two Republicans and two Democrats—had filed similarly worded bills to create harm reduction programs to connect individuals who struggle with drug addiction to mental health and substance abuse resources, along with a clean needle exchange service. Other states have seen successful results with this type of program, so we were able to work together on educating our colleagues about this proposal. Due to the advent of the pandemic in early 2020, we ultimately passed it in 2021.  

Q: What’s one of your favorite places or features in the Oklahoma Capitol?  

A: I thoroughly enjoy having an office in what we call “The Quad.” We have four legislators, two legislative assistants, and two interns. There are usually lots of lobbyists, constituents, and advocates who come by, since each of us have different legislative priorities. That makes the office environment always interesting and busy. I would describe “The Quad” as a microcosm of a day in the life of a legislator, and although it can become quite hectic, I am grateful for all of the friendships and memories that have been accumulated over the years.  

Q: From the perspective of a younger lawmaker: 

  • What’s the most unexpected/helpful thing you’ve learned in your time in the House?  

A: In my view, food and TV shows transcend partisanship and can bring people together. I have discovered that finding out someone’s favorite cuisine and what TV show they are currently watching can lead to genuine friendships and productive working relationships.  

  • What advice would you offer to someone walking in on their first day of session? 

A: The journey is more important than the destination.  

  • How can seasoned lawmakers be effective mentors to new legislators?  

A: Author Nelson Henderson observed, “The true meaning of life is to plant trees, under whose shade you do not expect to sit.” As someone who is now a seasoned lawmaker, I have enjoyed mentoring new legislators and teaching them tips and tricks I have learned during the past six years. I believe effective mentorship begins with remembering what it was like to be in the shoes of someone brand new to the legislative process. We are only in these elected positions for a finite amount of time, so while we are here, let us work on addressing difficult policy challenges and investing in the next generation of leaders.  
 

group shot including Oklahoma Representative Daniel PaeQ: What skill or personality trait has served you most in your time in the House?  

A: In my view, approachability is an important leadership characteristic to inspire others. A leader can build organic support if people feel comfortable enough to speak with them honestly and openly. Whether it is serving as student government president at the University of Oklahoma or in this current position, I have done my best to be accessible because the more people I hear from, the better I understand how I can help them. During the weekends when I am home from the legislative session, it is rather common for folks to come up and ask me questions while I am shopping at Walmart or working out at the gym. I answer their questions and try to follow up if needed.  

A specific example in which this level of approachability made a difference was in early 2020 during the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. I had started uploading daily social media posts with pertinent information related to the pandemic, and a couple of us in our local delegation decided to host Facebook Lives together to maximize our outreach efforts. We informed constituents about mitigation protocols, the Paycheck Protection Program, unemployment benefits, and more. We also shared our email addresses and personal phone numbers every time. Indeed, because of these Facebook Lives, we received regular messages asking for help on receiving unemployment benefits and where to find covid tests. Because our constituents trusted us and appreciated our accessibility, we helped so many people during the early days of the pandemic. 

Q: Do you have an example of bipartisanship in the Oklahoma Legislature you’d like folks to know about? 

A: We’ve started a bipartisan House Sneaker Caucus that celebrates Tennis Shoes Thursdays!  

YNP Staff Snapshot 

Myra Hernandez, director of civic education, Washington Legislature 

“Civics opens the doors for us to understand one another and how little our differences are when the reality is that we all care about the places where we live and want them to be better.” 

Upcoming Events 

Free Webinar: Bill Information Service (BIS) and NCSL Legislation Database Training 

Wednesday, April 17, 2024, 3:00 PM ET 

Stay ahead in legislative matters with NCSL's exclusive partnership with State Net/LexisNexis, offering legislators and staff access to a comprehensive database featuring the complete text of bills across all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Congress. Dive into half-hour training webinars held regularly throughout the year, designed to equip you with the skills to navigate this invaluable resource. Learn how to efficiently search for bills using various criteria and explore NCSL's topic-specific Legislation Databases. Webinars are typically scheduled for 3 p.m. ET on the third Wednesday of each month, with recordings available 24/7 for convenience. Remember to register through your NCSL account before midnight before the webinar date and watch your inbox for confirmation details. Stay informed and stay empowered with NCSL's legislative resources. 

REGISTER NOW 

Get Ready to Apply: Legislative Staff Institutional Essentials:  

Now in its fifth year, NCSL’s annual Legislative Staff Institutional Essentials Program will begin accepting applications soon. 

The program will be held online in fall 2024 during approximately five two-hour sessions. This monthlong training is for newer legislative staff who are seeking a broader context about legislatures and the legislative process and will focus on five core competencies. Staff with one to three years of legislative employment are invited to apply, with the approval of their director or supervisor. 

NCSL Legislative Summit: Louisville 2024 

The Legislative Summit is NCSL’s premier annual event and provides a platform for legislators, staff, and other public policy professionals to learn from the nation’s foremost experts, as well as each other, about solutions to the country’s most pressing issues. Join the YNP group for a reception YNP speaker. 

2024 Legislative Staff Professional Development Seminars 

All nine of NCSL’s Professional Staff Associations will be holding professional development seminars between September and October this year. 

Base Camp 2024: 

Back by popular demand! In a dynamic online setting, NCSL Base Camp 2024 brings together a wide range of experts to educate policymakers and legislative staff. Registration will be coming in the next couple months! 

Leadership Links 

(TED) 

(MIT) 

(YouTube) 

(Organization Habit Consulting

(Blanchard) 

YNP Resources 

 

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