National Conference of State Legislatures
|Motto||The Forum for America’s Ideas|
|Location||Washington, D.C. and Denver|
|William T. Pound|
The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) is a bipartisan non-governmental organization (NGO) established in 1975 to serve the members and staff of state legislatures of the United States (states, commonwealths, and territories). NCSL 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. It has three objectives: to improve the quality and effectiveness of state legislatures; to promote policy innovation and communication among state legislatures; and to ensure state legislatures a strong, cohesive voice in the federal system.
All state legislators and staff members are automatically members of NCSL. NCSL provides research, publications, and networking opportunities to aid, train, and serve its members in a wide variety of ways.
NCSL is the premier legislative organization in the country and maintains relationships with the smaller policy organizations like the Council for State Governments (CSG). CSG representatives sit on NCSL's Executive Committee and NCSL representatives sit on CSG's Executive Committee and Governing Board.
Day-to-day operations of the organization are in the hands of its Executive Director, William T. Pound. 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. Daniel T. Blue, served in 1998-99. Currently, the 2011-2012 President of NCSL is Sen. Stephen Morris of Kansas, and the Staff Chair is Michael Adams. Each year, NCSL’s presidency alternates between legislators of the Republican and Democratic parties.
Past NCSL Presidents and Staff Chairs
- 2010-11 - Senator Richard Moore and Tim Rice
- 2009-10 - Senator Don Balfour and Nancy Cyr
- 2008-09 - Representative Joe Hackney and Gary VanLandingham
- 2007-08 - Delegate Donna Stone
- 2006-07 - Senator Leticia Van de Putte and Steve Miller
- 2005-06 - Senator Steve Rauschenberger and Susan Clark Schaar
- 2004-05 - Delegate John Hurson
- 2003-04 - Speaker Martin Stephens
- 2002-03 - Senator Angela Monson
- 2001-02 - Senator Steve Saland
- 2000-01 - Senator Jim Costa
- 1999-00 - Representative Paul Mannweiler
- 1998-99 - Representative Daniel T. Blue, Jr.
- 1997-98 - Senator Richard Finan
- 1996-97 - Representative Michael Box
- 1995-96 - Senator James Lack
- 1995 - Representative Jane L. Campbell
- 1994 - Representative Karen McCarthy
- 1992-93 - Representative Arthur Hamilton
NCSL has 12 standing committees whose membership consists of state legislators and staff:
- Agriculture and Energy
- Budgets and Revenue
- Communications, Financial Services and Interstate Commerce
- Human Services and Welfare
- Labor and Economic Development
- Law and Criminal Justice
- Legislative Effectiveness
- 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 12 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
- Federal Health Reform Implementation
- Federal Deficit Reduction
- Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness
- Immigration and the States
- International Relations
- Military and Veterans Affairs
- State and Local Taxation of Communications and Electronic Commerce
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 innovative 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. The full list of NCSL policy positions can be found here.
NCSL organizes three annual events for the general membership:
- Fall Forum
- Spring Forum
- Legislative Summit (Annual Meeting)
The Spring Forum is always held in Washington, D.C., whereas the other two events are held in major cities throughout the US. The Legislative Summit is the largest of these events, partly because it occurs in the summer when state legislatures are in recess.
In addition, NCSL sponsors many programs and exchanges.