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Legislators

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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10

Women, who make up a little more than 50 percent of the U.S. population, only hold about a quarter of the nation’s 7,383 state legislative seats. While it’s a dramatic increase from the 1970s, the percentage has been stagnant for several years.

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22

Working in the legislative arena is not always easy. There are long hours, long stretches of sitting at a desk, a need to multitask and often a lack of sleep. Stacy Householder of the National Conference of State Legislatures shares six brain rules designed to help legislators and legislative staff be more effective. Her recommendations are based on research and its relevance for those working in legislative chambers.

“Scientists have learned more about the brain in the last 20 years than they have from the previous five centuries,” she says. Her advice includes “lap the Cap,” getting sleep and focusing on the task at hand. 

Find out if you are a lark or night owl and how that might affect your work. All this and more in this edition of “Our American States.”

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08

With 5,000-6,000 legislators, legislative staff and those interested in public policy expected to descend on Boston for the 2017 Legislative Summit, our guest today recommends being prepared to being engaged.

Catherine Johns, a communications expert with experience as a Chicago talk show radio host, gives honest advice about how to start conversations, how to follow up with those business cards you'll get and even how to do a proper handshake. You'll learn how to listen in conversations, create a better approach to Elevator Speeches and how to gracefully get out of those conversations that have gone too long.

“A good part of good conversation is really being present with the person I'm engaged with,” she says. See if her advice helps you prepare for the Summit on this edition of  “Our American States.”

Catherine Johns will lead a workshop, “Making Your Case: Effective Communication,” at the 2017 NCSL Legislative Summit in Boston on Sunday, Aug. 6, 8-11 a.m.

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27

In today’s podcast, we will take a close look at the political landscape of state legislatures, examine the top 10 issues they will tackle this year, take a look at how the new Trump administration will affect their work, and talk about the possibility of a national constitution convention.

Today's guest is William Pound, the executive director of the National Conference of State Legislatures, otherwise known as NCSL. Bill has directed NCSL for around 30 years, and is one of the nation’s foremost experts in state legislatures and how they operate.

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