|Motto||The Forum for America's Ideas|
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL), established in 1975, is a "nonpartisan public officials’ association composed of sitting state legislators" from the states, territories and commonwealths of the United States.
According to their website, the mission of the Conference is:
to advance the effectiveness, independence and integrity of legislatures and to foster interstate cooperation . . . especially in support of state sovereignty and state flexibility and protection from unfunded federal mandates and unwarranted federal preemption. The conference promotes cooperation between state legislatures in the U.S. and those in other countries. . . . [and] is committed to improving the operations and management of state legislatures, and the effectiveness of legislators and legislative staff. NCSL also encourages the practice of high standards of conduct by legislators and legislative staff.
Eight Standing Committees, composed of legislators and legislative staff appointed by the leadership of the legislatures, serve as the central organizing mechanism for NCSL members. Each Committee provides a means by which state legislators can share experience, information, and advice on a variety of state issues ranging from policy to management.
Committees meet together twice each year at the NCSL Capitol Forum and NCSL's Legislative Summit to adopt state-federal legislative policies that will ultimately guide NCSL's lobbying efforts in Washington, D.C. These committee meetings also serve as an opportunity for states to network and establish flows of information as well as experience-based suggestions from other states. In addition to the NCSL Capitol Forum and the Legislative Summit, NCSL builds the state legislative community by hosting various web seminars, leadership meetings, and access to relevant websites and online documents throughout the year.
Issues spanning multiple committee jurisdictions are managed by NCSL's Task Forces. Unlike the permanent Standing Committees, Task Forces are created for a specific period time and aim to develop positions on highly complex and controversial issues such as immigration reform and welfare. Task Forces are composed of 20 to 30 legislators and legislative staff who are appointed by the NCSL president or staff chair.
Day-to-day operations of the organization managed by its Executive Director, Tim Storey. The organization is led by a legislator who serves as its president and by a legislative staffer who serves as staff chair. Twenty years after its founding, NCSL was led in 1994 by its first female president, former Congresswoman Karen McCarthy. Its first African-American president, Rep. Dan Blue, served in 1998–99. The 2019–20 president of NCSL is Representative Robin Vos of Wisconsin, and the staff chair is Martha Wigton of Georgia. Each year, NCSL's presidency alternates between legislators of the Republican and Democratic parties.
The NCSL is considered part of the 'Big Seven', a group of organizations that represent local and state government in the United States.
Past NCSL presidents and staff chairs
- 2019–20 – Speaker Robin Vos and Martha Wigton
- 2018–19 – Senator Toi Hutchinson and Jon Heining
- 2017–18 – Senator Deb Peters and Chuck Truesdell
- 2016–17 – Senator Michael Gronstal, Senator Dan Blue and Raul Burciaga
- 2015–16 – Senator Curtis Bramble and Karl Aro
- 2014–15 – Senator Debbie Smith and Peggy Piety
- 2013–14 – Senator Bruce Starr and Tom Wright
- 2012–13 – Speaker Terie Norelli and Patsy Spaw
- 2011–12 – Senator Stephen Morris and Michael Adams
- 2010–11 – Senator Richard T. Moore and Tim Rice
- 2009–10 – Senator Don Balfour and Nancy Cyr
- 2008–09 – Speaker Joe Hackney and Gary VanLandingham
- 2007–08 – Representative Donna Stone and Sharon Crouch Steidel
- 2006–07 – Senator Leticia Van de Putte and Steve Miller
- 2005–06 – Senator Steve Rauschenberger and Susan Clark Schaar
- 2004–05 – Delegate John Hurson and Jim Greenwalt
- 2003–04 – Speaker Martin Stephens and Max Arinder
- 2002–03 – Senator Angela Monson and Gary Olson
- 2001–02 – Senator Steve Saland and Ramona Kenady
- 2000–01 – Senator Jim Costa and Diane Bolender
- 1999–00 – Representative Paul Mannweiler and John B. Phelps
- 1998–99 – Representative Dan Blue and Tom Tedcastle
- 1997–98 – Senator Richard Finan and Anne Walker
- 1996–97 – Representative Michael Box and Russell T. Larson
- 1995–96 – Senator James Lack and Alfred "Butch" Speer
- 1994–95 – Representative Karen McCarthy, Representative Jane L. Campbell and Ted Terris
- 1993–94 – Senator Robert Connor and John Turcotte
- 1992–93 – Representative Arthur Hamilton and Donald Schneider
- 1991–92 – Senator Paul Bud Burke and Terry Anderson
- 1990–91 – Speaker John Martin and William Russell
- 1989–90 – Representative Lee Daniels and Patrick O'Donnell
- 1988–89 – Senator Samuel B. Nunez Jr. and Betty King
- 1987–88 – Senator Ted Strickland and John Andreason
- 1986–87 – Representative Irving J. Stolberg and Sue Bauman
- 1985–86 – Senator David Nething and Dale Cattanach
- 1984–85 – Representative John Bragg and Leo Memmott
- 1983–84 – Senator Miles Ferry and John Lattimer
- 1982–83 – Assemblyman William F. Passannante and Joe Brown
- 1981–82 – Senator Ross Doyen and Robert Smartt
- 1980–81 – Representative Richard Hodes and Patrick Flahaven
- 1979–80 – Speaker George Roberts and David Johnston
- 1978–79 – Senator Jason Boe and Arthur Palmer
- 1977–78 – Senator Fred Anderson and Robert Herman
- 1976–77 – Speaker Martin Olav Sabo and McDowell Lee
- 1975–76 – Representative Tom Jensen and Bonnie Reese
- 1975 – Senator Kevin B. Harrington and Eugene Farnum
NCSL has 8 standing committees whose membership consists of state legislators and staff:
- Budgets and Revenue
- Communications, Financial Services, and Interstate Commerce
- Health and Human Services
- Labor and Economic Development
- Law, Criminal Justice and Public Safety
- Natural Resources and Infrastructure
- Redistricting and Elections
These committees establish policy positions and coordinate lobbying efforts in Washington DC.
NCSL uses task forces to complement the work of the 8 standing committees. Composed of legislators and legislative staff, task forces are temporary and deal with issues that cut across the jurisdictions of multiple standing committees. Currently, there are 8 task forces:
- Energy Supply
- Immigration and the States
- Innovations in State Health Systems
- International Relations
- Military and Veterans Affairs
- State and Local Taxation
In the most general terms, NCSL works to enhance the role of states in the federal system. NCSL opposes unfunded federal mandates and federal preemption of state authority, providing state legislatures with the flexibility to implement policy solutions. NCSL supports enactment of the Main Street Fairness Act, which would simplify existing sales tax collection laws. The Act would grant states the authority to require all sellers, including online merchants, to collect sales and use taxes, generating billions of dollars of tax revenue for state governments.
Professional staff associations
The organization runs nine professional staff associations.
American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries
The American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries (ASLCS) was founded in 1943 to improve legislative administration, and to establish better communication between clerk and secretaries throughout the United States and its territories. In 1974, ASLCS joined with several state legislative groups to form the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL). The society includes an active membership of more than four hundred principal clerks, secretaries, and legislative support staff.
Publications and standards
ASLCS publishes several reference and resource books, including the Legislative Administrator, the Professional Journal, the Roster and Reference Guide, the International Directory, Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure, and Inside the Legislative Process.
The Society's publications are governed by standards approved by the Executive Committee of ASLCS. The publication standards are policies adopted by the ASLCS Executive Committee that are continuing in nature. Publication Standards remain in effect unless amended by the Executive Committee.
The Legislative Administrator is the official newsletter of the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries.
"The Journal" provides a forum to share experiences, expertise and opinions on a variety of subjects influencing our daily working environment.
The International Directory is a booklet that provides a resource in English, Spanish and French of the objectives and goals of the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries (ASLCS), Association of Chief Clerks of Mexico's State Legislatures and the Federal District of Mexico (ANOMAC), Association of Central American Legislative Clerks (ATELCA), the Canadian Clerks-at-the Table, South African Legislative Secretaries Association (SALSA), and the Australian Clerks. The booklet also contains the names, phone numbers, fax numbers and e-mail addresses of the Executive Committee members of the respective organizations.
Inside the Legislative Process
Inside the Legislative Process is a research tool, providing information on state legislative processes and procedures. The ASLCS committee on Inside the Legislative Process is responsible for reviewing and producing this publication. The committee works closely with NCSL staff to develop survey questions and record the responses in a format that is easily usable by all legislative units and reflects current legislative processes.
Additionally, the Joint Canadian-American Clerks' Conference is held biennially in odd-numbered years. It is hosted alternately between Canada and the United States. Unlike other Society meetings, participation in this conference is limited to principal clerks and secretaries or to the principal assistant if the clerk or secretary is unable to attend. The meeting typically occurs in August or September. The location is determined by joint recommendation of the ASLCS Canadian/American Relations Committee and the Canadian Association of Clerks-at-the-Table.
NCSL organizes two annual events for the general membership:
- NCSL Capitol Forum
- Legislative Summit (Annual Meeting)
The Legislative Summit is the largest of these events, partly because it occurs in the summer when state legislatures are in recess. Its location varies year to year. The NCSL Capitol Forum alternates between Washington D.C. and a location that varies year to year.
- American Legislative Exchange Council, a similar organization with a conservative viewpoint
- Council of State Governments
- State Government Affairs Council
- State Innovation Exchange, an organization that produces model legislation from a progressive standpoint
- State Policy Network, a consortium of conservative and libertarian state think tanks
- Nugent, John D. (2006). "Federalism in America: An Encyclopedia - National Conference of State Legislatures". Center for the Study of Federalism. Archived from the original on 18 November 2017.
- "NCSL - About Us". National Conference of State Legislatures. Archived from the original on 27 May 2020.
- "Tim Storey Named New Executive Director of NCSL".
- "Overview | Legislative Professional Staff Associations". www.ncsl.org.
- Legislatures, National Conference of State. "American Society of Legislative Clerks & Secretaries". ncsl.org. Retrieved 4 April 2017.
- Legislatures, National Conference of State. "ASLCS Overview". ncsl.org. Retrieved 4 April 2017.