National Conference of State Legislatures
The organization was established in 1975.
William T. Pound currently serves as the NCSL Executive Director.
According to NCSL, the organization has three primary goals:
- "Improve the quality and effectiveness of state legislatures;"
- "Promote policy innovation and communication among state legislatures;"
- "Ensure state legislatures a strong, cohesive voice in the federal system."
In addition to 12 standing committees, NCSL currently has eight task forces. The task forces can have 20-30 legislators and legislative staff. According to NCSL, task forces are appointed by the NCSL president and staff chair. Task forces have Republican and Democratic co-chairs.
Below is a list of the eight task forces:
- Energy Supply
- Federal Health Reform Implementation
- Federal Deficit Reduction
- Homeland Security & Emergency Preparedness
- Immigration & the States
- International Relations
- Military & Veterans' Affairs
- State & Local Taxation of Comm. & Electronic Commerce
2001 I&R task force
On December 7, 2001, the NCSL convened an I&R (initiative and referendum) Reform Task Force chaired by then Sen.DiAnna Schimek. The purpose of the task force was "to review the growing use of initiatives and referendums around the country and to examine their effect on representative democracy at the state level."
In addition to former Sen. Schimek, the task force included:
- Christopher J. Badgley - Vice President for State Government Affairs, for the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)
- Albert G. Barnett (Jerry) - the President of Americans for Representative Democracy and the principal of Thomas-Huntington, Ltd.
- Sen. Jim Costa - member of the U.S. House representing California's 20th congressional district. Costa was first elected to the House in 2004.
- Sharon L. Eubanks - Senior Attorney for Administration with the Office of Legislative Legal Services (OLLS), the non-partisan, in-house counsel for the Colorado General Assembly
- Sen. Marilyn Jarrett - represented the 21st District of Arizona
- Patrick M. Kelly - Director of State Government Relations and Grassroots Programs for the Biotechnology Industry Organization
- Frank H. Plescia - Senior Director of U.S. State Government Affairs for Monsanto Company in St. Louis
- Rep. Lane Shetterly - represented 34th District of Oregon
- Michael J. Stewart - Senior Research Analyst with the Research Division of Nevada's Legislative Counsel Bureau
Ultimately, the group made 34 recommendations. In summary, the task force reported:
...the task force concluded that the initiative has evolved from its early days as a grassroots tool to enhance representative democracy into a tool that too often is exploited by special interests. The initiative lacks critical elements of the legislative process and can have both intended and unintended effects on the ability of the representative democratic process to comprehensively develop policies and priorities.
As a result, the task force suggests that initiative states reform drafting, certification, signature-gathering and financial disclosure statutes; adhere to single subject rules; and improve practices regarding voter education. It also recommends that initiatives be allowed only on general election ballots.It is the task force's intent that the discussion and adoption of the reforms in this report lead to a more thoughtful lawmaking process, improve interaction between initiative proponents and legislatures, and ultimately produce better public policy and reinforce representative democracy.