5 Things Committee Staff Want You to Know.

Author:Warnock, Kae

In the fast-paced environment of the legislature, committee staff are a bit like stage managers in the theater, working behind the scenes to keep everyone on task and on message.

Legislative committees perform two vital functions: They conduct hearings where bills are debated and fine-tuned before they go to the full body, and they provide a forum for citizens to voice concerns regarding legislation.

Committee staff make certain that the chair has what he or she needs to hold hearings, that committee members know what's coming next and that witnesses are ready to speak.

Although committee staff roles differ by state, all staff strive to ensure that the chair and the committee members are prepared to examine the issues. What does it take to do the job effectively? Here's what committee staff want you to know.


We Conduct Thoughtful Analysis.

We provide objective and thorough analysis of bills. We gather detailed background material and summarize it for lawmakers, always striving to give all the various perspectives. We advise the chair on where there are areas of consensus. We also research existing laws to help understand the possible effects and unintended consequences lurking within newly proposed legislation. We aren't psychics, but we try to prepare members for potential problems that may arise during public meetings that could derail a meeting or cause controversy.


We Help the Chair Run the Meeting.

We support the work of the chair. To ensure the chair is the expert on the committee, we do thorough research and provide concise information on the subject matter at hand. We help the chair set the agenda, deliver bills and amendments, and write the committee report. We also assist the chair with parliamentary questions.


We Provide Meaningful Testimony.

We are experts in the policy area under the committee's jurisdiction. And, we know who to bring to the discussion to help the chair allocate time wisely and manage testimony fairly, even when tensions run high. We know the lay of the land--and where the land mines are buried! We can line up the needed testimony and brief witnesses so that their statements are timely and relevant. Working under the direction of the...

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