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April 5, 2011

Strengthening the State-Federal Relationship

Keynote speakers will address civility, immigration and leadership at the premier spring meeting for state legislators.  

In a year filled with divisiveness, state legislators are looking for ways to find common ground on some of the most pressing issues facing state legislatures in their own capitols, and in our nation's Capitol. Key issues include immigration, education, job creation, budgets, criminal justice, transportation financing and more.

The National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) Spring Forum and Meeting of the Standing Committees will feature some of the nation’s leading experts on bipartisanship, leadership and civility. The meeting, April 14-15, will give state lawmakers not only an opportunity to exchange ideas and innovative policy solutions from both sides of the aisle, but also to find ways to address the state-federal relationship.

NCSL's Spring Forum allows state lawmakers and legislative staff to work with colleagues from across the country to discuss how federal issues affect their states. Rather than recommend specific policy to individual legislatures, committees instead develop state positions to promote to Congress and the administration. Before any positions are taken, several cabinet members and federal officials will address NCSL's legislative community. Speakers for the 2011 NCSL Spring Forum include:

  • At Thursday's general session, forum attendees will hear John Morton, the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). Morton has strengthened ICE's investigative efforts, and has focused ICE's efforts to remove criminal offenders, recent border violators, those who ignore removal orders, and those who obtain legal immigration status fraudulently.
  • At Saturday's general session breakfast, U.S. Representative Karen Bass of California will discuss the fine art of leadership. She honed her political skills in the state legislature and is serving her first term in the U.S. House of Representatives. Bass made history when she became the first African-American woman to serve as speaker of the House in a state legislature.
  • Jim Leech will talk to legislators about bipartisanship and civility during Friday's general closing session. Leach is chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities and previously served 30 years representing southeastern Iowa in the U.S. House of Representatives, where he founded and co-chaired the Congressional Humanities Caucus.

In addition to these speakers, sessions on rethinking federal highway funding, state budget updates, drug prevention and control, cyber security and reviewing census data are open to all legislators, staff and members of the media.

NCSL's Spring Forum and Meeting of the Standing Committees will be at the Marriott Wardman Park in the Woodley Park area of Washington, D.C. Members of the media are invited to attend. A complete listing of the schedule is posted online.

Credentialed members of the media can register onsite and there is no registration fee for reporters. Media are asked to check in at the NCSL registration desk to obtain a press badge and will be able to work out of the Press Room in the hotel.


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.