Senior Staff from Azerbaijan Parliament Visit NCSL
NCSL hosted a study tour to the United States for Azerbaijan’s Milli Mejlis Staff Leadership, Aug. 6 – 17, funded through a grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) administered through Development Alternatives, Inc. During the study tour delegates attended NCSL’s 2011 Legislative Summit in San Antonio, Texas and then traveled to Washington, D.C. for additional meetings. The goals of the study tour were to provide participants with opportunities to discuss the mechanisms of public hearings, sustainable Member Orientation, HR training structures and IT management relative to Constituency Service.
The delegation began by meeting with Bruce Feustel, Senior Fellow in Legislative Management in San Antonio, Texas. Bruce welcomed the delegation to NCSL’s Legislative Summit and gave a presentation on the Conference and its work with state legislatures. He also provided an overview of state practices in the areas of committee work.
Legislative Summit International Day was kicked off with a welcome session hosted by Senator Pam Althoff from Illinois and Representative Terie Norelli from New Hampshire. NCSL’s President, Massachusetts Senator Richard Moore, Immediate Past President, Georgia Senator Don Balfour, and Staff Chair Tim Rice of Illinois also welcomed the delegates to the Summit and wished them a productive week.
The Azerbaijan delegation then participated in a roundtable discussion with their counterparts from other countries. Their group met with Fmr. US Ambassador to Romania and current Maryland Senator James Rosapepe as well as legislative staff from around the world. Discussion topics included meeting challenges, building coalitions and the role of staff in the legislative institution.
Following the roundtable discussion the group heard presentations on International Trade moderated by New Mexico Senator David Ulibarri. The trade session served as an interactive and practical discussion of how to increase international trade and build business ties between our communities.
Mr. Ilgar Farzaliyev, the delegation Chair, presented a paper during the session “Global Perspectives on the Legislative Institution.” The purpose of the session was to compare how legislatures and parliaments around the world handle Member and staff turnover. “Global Perspectives on the Legislative Institution” was moderated by Robert Marchant, Director of Senate Legislative Operations in the Wisconsin Legislature. Other panelists included Mr. Peter Alcock, Clerk, House of Assembly, Parliament of Tasmania, Australia; and Ms. Nerusha Naidoo, Secretary, KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Legislature, of South Africa. Mr. Farzaliyev presented an overview of Azerbaijan and the Milli Mejlis, shared about their newly instituted New Member Orientation program, and took questions from the audience.
While at Legislative Summit in Texas, the Azerbaijan delegation met with numerous U.S. legislators and legislative staff, who shared with them different aspects of their states general practices. Karl Aro, Executive Director of the Department of Legislative Services in the Maryland General Assembly discussed public accessibility in the Maryland General Assembly. Another private meeting was arranged for the delegation with IT experts from Virginia and Illinois, to discuss the role of technology in the legislative institution, and strategies for maximizing public access without compromising security.
During a visit to Texas Senator Jeff Wentworth’s district office, the delegation discussed constituent service at the local level, including the processing of constituent requests. NCSL also hosted a roundtable for the Azerbaijan delegation entitled “Trends in HR and Staff Management in US Legislatures.” The roundtable was moderated by Tim Storey, Senior Fellow in the Legislative Management Program at NCSL. Presenters from the legislatures of Texas, Oregon, Tennessee and North Carolina participated.
All international delegates were also invited to attend the Summit’s plenary and other sessions, during which they heard from such speakers as author Jim Collins, Texas Governor and Presidential Candidate Rick Perry, and the pollsters.
After four days in San Antonio, Texas, the Azerbaijan delegation continued their study tour in Washington, DC. There, the delegation attended a traditional American BBQ, visited the Library of Congress and held meetings with the Congressional Research Service, met with staff of the House Democracy Partnership, staff from the House Azerbaijan Caucus and the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission). The group was also invited to visit the floor of the House of Representatives where they met with staff from the Office of the Clerk of the House. On the Senate side, the delegation met with staff from the Office of the Secretary of the Senate, the Chief Information Officer of the U.S. Senate, its Webmaster, Parliamentarian, and the Director of the Joint Office of Education & Training. Finally, the delegation visited the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and discussed how witnesses are identified and how testimony is developed as the public sector participates in Congressional legislative hearings.
The delegation from Azerbaijan’s Milli Mejlis reported that the findings from their study tour will be beneficial in their future work within the Parliament. NCSL gratefully acknowledges USAID and DAI for making this program possible.