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Legislators

07

Our American States

podcastData privacy is a topic that has captured the attention of many state legislators across the country. In 2021, data privacy legislation was introduced in 38 states and the most common type of legislation was comprehensive privacy legislation along the lines of legislation in California.

But enacting legislation has been far more difficult.

Episode guests Rep. Josh West, the Republican majority leader in the Oklahoma House, and Collin Walke, a Democratic member, teamed up to work on comprehensive legislation Their bill passed the House last year but not yet been heard in the Oklahoma Senate. They discussed how they first became interested in the topic of data privacy and how they ended up working together.

They also explained why they started a podcast, “Inside the Capitol.” The show has been a way to educate colleagues and constituents about data privacy, but episodes examined other policy topics, budgets, civility and more. And, they say, it’s a way to signal civility and bipartisanship.

Rep. Josh West, Oklahoma Rep. Collin Walke, Oklahoma

 

 

 

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20

Legislatures: The Inside Storey

podcastOn this episode of “Legislatures: The Inside Storey,” NCSL CEO Tim Storey, talks with David Toscano, a seven-term legislator in the Virginia House of Delegates. He held the seat once occupied by Thomas Jefferson in the Virginia House of Burgesses. First elected in 2005, he served as Democratic leader in the house from 2011 to 2018.

In 2021, Toscano published “Fighting Political Gridlock: How States Shape Our Nation and Our Lives.”

He talked with Tim about the critical role of states in affecting our daily lives, how states have led the way on a number of critical issues and, in contrast, how increasingly ineffective the legislatures is at the federal level. He also talked about the need to increase people’s understanding of the role of state government.

David Toscano

 

 

 

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18

Teresa BejanCivility in politics seems to be a subject of almost constant discussion. Our guest today has written and spoken extensively on the topic. Teresa M. Bejan is an associate professor of political theory and fellow of Oriel College at the University of Oxford. She is the author of “Mere Civility: Disagreement and the Limits of Toleration,” published in 2017.

Bejan will be the keynote speaker at NCSL’s online Base Camp event on Aug. 4 at 11 a.m. ET.

In this podcast, she talks about how civility works in politics, the difference between civility and talking about civility, the polarized state of our politics and more.

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14

As the 2021 legislative sessions begin, about 15% of the lawmakers will be first timers. As with any new job, a little advice from more seasoned colleagues can be helpful.

On this podcast, I’m joined by Alabama Representative Debbie Wood and former Maine Representative Matt Moonen. They bring different perspectives. Wood, a Republican, was elected in 2018, and is completing her first term. Moonen, a Democrat, was first elected in 2012 and retired this year because of term limits. He served as House majority leader.

They talked about what surprised them the most when they first arrived in the legislature; how they handle relationships with colleagues, lobbyists and constituents; and their best piece of advice for new legislators.

Alabama Rep. Debbie WoodFormer Maine Rep. Matt Moonen

 

 

 

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16

To kick off 2020, we talked with Tim Storey, who took over as executive director of the National Conference of State Legislatures in mid-2019. Storey discusses the strength of state budgets and his view that there are not one or two big issues dominating legislative agendas this year, a change from previous years. And he discusses the upcoming redistricting of state legislative and congressional districts that make this election the "big kahuna" of the decade.

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28

What’s your sense of the state of civil discourse in America today? The answer is likely as diverse as political viewpoints today. So we decided to talk with someone who studies civil discourse and is an active participant.

Keith Allred is the executive director of the National Institute for Civil Discourse. He discusses the differences of civil discourse at the federal and state levels, and why his organization is promoting programs aimed at state legislatures, communities and the general public. He explains how the Institute came into being and why his board is filled with prominent Republican and Democratic leaders from across the country.

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24

If you could write a letter to your younger self before starting your career, what would you say? That’s the premise of this special two-part presentation of “Our American States.”

“What I Wish I Knew” is aimed at the more than 20 percent of the nation’s 7,383 state legislators who are new to the job. In these episodes, we talk with two current and two former state legislators—all who have held leadership positions—and ask them to give newly elected legislators advice or offer what they wish they knew when they walked into that legislative chamber for the first time. Our guests, in alphabetical order, include:

  • Utah Senator Curt Bramble (R), former NCSL president
  • Illinois Senator Toi Hutchinson (D), current NCSL president
  • David Long (R), former Indiana senator and Senate president pro tem
  • Terie Norelli (D), former New Hampshire House speaker and former NCSL president

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29

Following the 2018 midterm elections, more women will serve in state legislatures than ever before. Starting with the 2019 sessions, it appears that about 28 percent of the nation’s 7,383 state legislators will be women—a significant jump from a touch under 25 percent after the 2017 elections. In this episode, we dive into the historic numbers and discuss why they increased this year.

Our guest, Katie Ziegler, is the program manager for NCSL’s Women’s Legislative Network, the professional development organization that includes every female state legislator in the 50 states, U.S. territories and the District of Columbia. The Women's Legislative Network’s mission: to promote the participation, empowerment and leadership of women legislators.

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22

The list of duties and responsibilities for state legislators is long. Still, a number of state senators and representatives carve out time from their busy schedule—which often includes another full-time job—to talk with students about government and the importance of participating in the process.

The National Conference of State Legislatures encourages state legislators to take part in its “America’s Legislators Back to School” program, offering tips on how to engage with students.

We get two unique perspectives on how talking with students has an impact. Kentucky Senate Pro Tem Jimmy Higdon, who represents a largely rural area, and Boston metropolitan state Representative Christine Barber, offer their perspectives on engaging students. They will reveal how students not only learn, but how young people can have an impact on state issues.

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23

"Our American States" took its first road trip to Fort Collins, Colo., to watch a legislative town hall in session. Despite being the Saturday before Thanksgiving, temperatures in the low 40s and a Colorado State University football game kickoff game less than three hours away, about 70 people crammed into a library conference room to learn and ask questions about transportation issues. 

Town halls are held by state legislators across the country on a regular basis, and this meeting is just one example. The citizens of Fort Collins have a strong history of attending community forums. We provide a taste of this forum, and talk with an expert on legislative community engagement to find out what's happening around the country.

In this episode, we talk with Colorado state Representative Joann Ginal (D) and Angela Andrews, program director of the Legislative Staff Services Program at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

In addition to the Fort Collins example, we find out about outreach in other states such as Massachusetts, West Virginia and Hawaii. We'll discuss trends in engagement outreach such as tele-town halls, logistics, safety, reaching Millennials, and how to have better and deeper conversations with citizens. And, both our guests bring up the value of circles.

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