Denver—Idaho House Speaker Scott Bedke became the 49th president of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) at the annual Legislative Summit in Denver. Bedke, a Republican, succeeds Hawaii Speaker Scott Saiki, a Democrat.
NCSL, a bipartisan organization that serves the nation’s 7,383 state lawmakers and more than 30,000 legislative staff, alternates its leadership annually between the two parties.
“Good governance is the result of strong, well-informed legislatures that can work collaboratively and effectively with the executive and judicial branches,” Bedke said. “Our system of checks and balances, with three separate but equal branches, depends on a strong, well-informed legislative branch. NCSL’s mission is to strengthen the legislative branch of every state’s government by providing the programs and support that enable us to more effectively perform our responsibilities as legislators. I am eager to contribute to NCSL’s continued success and shape its future direction.”
Bedke has served 10 terms in the Idaho House of Representatives and has been speaker since December 2012. He served on NCSL’s Executive Committee and various subcommittees before running to be the organization’s vice president.
A fourth-generation rancher from Oakley, Idaho, Bedke graduated from Oakley High School and received his bachelor’s degree from Brigham Young University.
Other newly elected officers:
Rhode Island Speaker Pro Tempore Brian Kennedy (D), president-elect. Kennedy has served in the Rhode Island House of Representatives since November 1988. He has led several House committees and currently serves as the speaker pro tempore. He has served on numerous NCSL committees, including the Executive Committee and the Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce Committee, and recently co-chaired the NCSL Executive Task Force on Insurance.
Utah Senate President Pro Tem Wayne Harper (R), vice-president. Harper was elected to the Utah House of Representatives in 1997, then to the state Senate in 2013. He is an active member of NCSL, having served on the Executive Committee and several subcommittees and working groups.
Anne Sappenfield, staff chair. Sappenfield serves as director of the Wisconsin Legislative Council and has worked for the Wisconsin Legislature for 26 years, serving in a variety of roles. She served as staff chair of NCSL’s overall standing committees and staff chair of the standing committee on human services (which later merged with the committee on health). She is a past chair of the Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff association (RELACS), one of NCSL’s professional staff associations, and has twice served on NCSL’s Executive Committee, first from 2011-14 and again starting in 2020.
Sabrina Lewellen, staff vice chair. Lewellen serves as the deputy director and assistant secretary of the Arkansas Senate. She has over 19 years of legislative service, including 14 years in senior management. Lewellen has been involved with NCSL since 2005, serving in several capacities with the Executive Committee, the Legislative Staff Coordinating Committee and the Research, Editorial, Legal and Committee Staff association. She currently serves as staff chair of the Executive Committee’s Subcommittee on the Legislative Institution and as co-chair of the LSCC Information, Technology, Social Media, E-Learning and Outreach Subcommittee.
NCSL is governed by a 63-member Executive Committee, elected yearly, which includes both legislators and staff, under the leadership of seven officers.
NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the legislators and staffs of the states, commonwealths and territories. It provides research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues and is an effective and respected advocate for the interests of the states in the American federal system.