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The Importance of Legislative Staff

Legislators rely heavily on their staff - for policy research, to help constituents, to keep the legislative process running, and administrative support, among other jobs. According to our survey of policymakers, legislators trust information from their staff more than from any other source.

Posted prominently as you enter the Finance Committee offices in the LOB: Humility to seniors is duty, to peers is courtesy, to inferiors is nobleness.

-- Poor Richard's Almanac

Staff often have longer tenure at the legislature than most legislators. They are an important source of historical information about issues. Staff also work full-time; legislators are at the Capitol only part-time.

A very wise advocate used to sponsor annual meetings of the staff working on health policy for the Connecticut legislature with the staffs from Connecticut's US Congressional and Senate offices assigned to health issues. There were probably two dozen or more staffers who came up from DC to meet with the two or three state health policy staffers.

Staff are overworked. Some welcome assistance and input from advocates, some do not.

There are two types of legislative staff - partisan and nonpartisan. Partisan staff are chosen by their caucuses, Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans, House Republicans, or House Democrats, and/or by individual legislators. Partisan staff work for their caucus' interests and serve at their pleasure. They work as researchers, press liaisons, attorneys, constituent aides, and committee staff, among other jobs. Partisan staff are generally very active politically.

Nonpartisan staff are not politically active. They work within the Office of Fiscal Analysis, the Office of Legislative Research, the Legislative Commissioner's Office and as committee staff, among other jobs. Nonpartisan staff are civil service employees and not subject to political influence.

The Office of Fiscal Analysis advises the legislature on the budget, Connecticut's economic climate and drafts a fiscal note for each bill or amendment considered by either house. For more info, go to What is a fiscal note?

The Office of Legislative Research follows important trends in Connecticut for legislators, follows what is happening in DC and in other states, and drafts a bill analysis for each bill considered by the legislature.

The Legislative Commissioner's Office is the set of attorneys who draft legislative language.

Staff from all three non-partisan offices are assigned by issue area and/or by committee. These staff are generally present at hearings, committee meetings and advise in private meetings to decide which bills to advance in the process.

RELATED ARTICLES

Leading or Chairing Task Forces, Committees and other planning groups set in statute

In Separated by Velvet Ropes published 5/25/03 in the Hartford Courant's Northeast magazine, Kevin Rennie describes the culture and frenzy at the end of the legislative session. A former Senator, his description is vivid and accurate.

Navigating the Legislative Process

The Proper Care and Feeding of a Champion

Legislators - Who are They?

Tips No Advocate should forget

Visiting with a Policymaker

Calling a Policymaker

Writing to Policymakers

How to work with campaigns

Classic Advocate Mistakes

Regulations

Connecticut's Budget Process

Directions to the Legislative Office Building and the State Capitol

Rules and customs for navigating within the Legislative Office Building and the State Capitol

Freedom of Information

If you only have 5 minutes to make a difference

How a Bill Becomes a Law

How to testify at a Public Hearing

How to work with a lobbyist

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