16th Annual State Directors' Conference

January 7-9, 2010, The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, CA

Women In Government hosted its largest and most successful State Directors’ Conference from January 7 through January 9, 2010 at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel in Dana Point, California. With 38 states represented and over 130 total in attendance.  The agenda focused on a 2010 forecast and a leadership series for Women In Government's State Directors.  Women In Government broke all State Directors’ attendance records with 80 women state legislators in attendance. Sixty-four were sworn in as new WIG State Directors. WIG has increased its State Directors membership from 84 to 188, with a completely bipartisan composition of 95 Democrats and 93 Republicans.

In addition to the variety of leadership series and policy forecast segments (see below for a full description of conference proceedings) legislators were given the opportunity to record two public service announcements on the topics of health literacy and HIV/AIDS awareness.  To learn more about these topics and the recording of the public service announcements please see these links:

To view the conference proceedings for this event, click here.  To view photos from the conference, click here.

 

Summary of Conference Sessions:

 

Leadership in State Legislatures

Jo Anne Davidson
Former Speaker of the House
Ohio State Legislature

Senator Sharon Weston Broome
President Pro Tempore
Louisiana State Legislature

In the United States, women account for about 24 percent of state legislators or approximately 1,800 women for 7,400 seats in state legislatures. This ranks the United States 68 of 134 nations worldwide. In addition, minority women face a unique challenge in state legislatures as they represent a small percentage of women state legislators as a whole. Women currently hold only 56 leadership positions in state legislatures across the country.

The goal of effective leadership is the desire to make a positive impact in the lives of those served. The keys to rising to a leadership position include empowering others, being a good listener, stop viewing colleagues as a “D” or an “R,” building diverse partnerships and maintaining focus on purpose and vision. Women face a unique challenge in their rise to leadership and in their role as leaders. However, women also have a unique opportunity to effect positive change as leaders in state legislatures.

Question and Answer

Q: How can one get through the “good old boys” network? How do you take care of your family’s needs and still break through barriers into leadership?
D: It’s a decision you make for yourself; figure out a way to find other opportunities to get people together for dinner, etc., but not make it a late night.
B: I agree. It can happen without going out late at night and socializing, but it’s also a good idea to have allies who do go out at night.

Q: Why is it difficult to motivate women to encourage other women to run for office or get involved?
B: This is an on-going issue. Our culture is still making changes to see women as leaders. Take this dialogue home and discuss with other women.
D: Yes, we have a special obligation to recruit other women and help them.

Q: Are there ways to speed up the process?
D: Yes, try both formal and informal leadership training.
B: Expose other women to openings and appointments to boards and other community or leadership positions.

Presentation

Senator Sharon Weston Broome PowerPoint Presentation

 

State Budgets in Crisis

Iris Lav, MBA
Senior Advisor
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

During recessions state tax revenues decline sharply; in addition Medicaid enrollment is currently rising. Forty-eight states are currently facing budget shortfalls, and 40 states have a fiscal year 2010 mid-year gap. As a whole, states are currently missing more than $1 in every $4 needed to maintain services. Even with federal stimulus money large budget gaps remain for states. A balanced approach to facing these deficits is key in solving state budget problems.

Prioritization of cuts is important, as across the board reductions can be problematic. States need to find ways to promote efficiency in the current systems; budget cuts should be used to increase operating efficiency; audits of current budgets and programs should be done to see what is and what is not working. Reserve funds should be used responsibly; they are meant to be drawn during a recession, but a solid plan needs to be in place before funds are used. Scrutiny of tax expenditures is important. States should be looking at both tax expenditures as well as on-budget figures when making cuts. Better collection of taxes should be implemented; tax statutes should be enforced. Tax increases are another tool that can be used; 11 states have raised revenues by more that five percent and increases may be temporary. Lastly, budget processes should be changed and made more transparent, independent revenue forecasting should be done, and “rainy day” funds should be increased.

Question and Answer

Q: With the federal budget deficit, what kind of impact/legacy will we be passing on to future generations if we take federal stimulus or other funds?
L: No question the federal deficit is a long-term problem, but the stimulus money isn’t part of that and doesn’t have a long-term impact.

Q: What tools will help us expose hidden tax expenditures related to corporate tax credits and have more transparency in what tax credits exist and whether they have actually been effective in creating economic development?
L: Most tax expenditures are subsidies and may not be effective in meeting economic development goals. Legislation with tax credits should also include reporting and auditing requirements so that the effectiveness of credits can be measured.

Q: Has there been any influence on the tax increases from the Tea Party Movement?
L: There’s been a lot of noise, but we haven’t seen a lot of influence. Most people care about public services and understand that there are trade-offs.

Presentation

Iris Lav PowerPoint Presentation

 

Negotiation Skills – Getting to Yes

Thomas Little, PhD
Director of Curriculum Development and Research
State Legislative Leaders Foundation

Negotiation is an important tool for legislators while trying to affect legislation in their states. It is important to remember that the obvious solution may not be the only or best option. Many times negotiation requires thinking outside the box and thinking about interests rather than positions. It is important to be well prepared and know as much about the “other side” as possible; when negotiating you must know what it is that the other side wants to achieve in order to get to an agreement that works for both parties involved. There are many tools that can be used when negotiating position: persuasion, agenda, power of the convener, information, and the power of the purse. These may not all be used in one negotiation but a combination of these tools can lead to a successful outcome. It is also important to remember that everyone does not want or need the same thing, and therefore what is valued in a negotiation may vary drastically between parties. It is not always possible to make everyone happy, but if it is not tried it will never happen.

Presentation and Additional Handout

Dr. Thomas Little PowerPoint Presentation

State Legislative Leaders Foundation Massachusetts Case Study

 

Healthcare Delivery for the Future

Terry McInnis, MD, MPH
Co-Chair
Center for Public Payer Implementation
The Patient-Centered Primary Care Collaborative

Patient Centered Medical Home (PCMH) is a comprehensive approach to primary care for patients and coordinated care throughout the system. Centered on primary care, it reduces costs and improves quality. The PCMH encourages the use of primary and preventative care for patients which moves away from the current model of acute episodic care. The Patient Centered Primary Care Collaborative is a coalition of over 650 employers, consumer groups, health plans, unions, organizations representing primary care physicians, government, and other stakeholders. The Collaborative works to advance the PCMH and believes that it will improve the health of patients and the health care delivery system while also reducing costs. Recent studies estimate that PCMH could drop national health care expenditures by 5.6 percent if every American had access, which amounts to a savings in the trillions of dollars. Studies have also shown substantial improvement when patients have access to medical homes, even helping reduce racial and ethnic disparities. The PCMH model has been put into use in North Carolina with savings estimated at over $240 million from benchmark. State legislators are key in leading state government, as a large payer of healthcare costs, in this delivery system.

Question and Answer

Q: Will medical homes help with prescription drug addictions?
M: Yes, it should help because it’s better integrated than the system we have now, and it allows for better tracking of a patient’s prescriptions and usage.

Q: Could we promote general practice doctors and medical homes through policies at medical schools in our states?
M: Yes, the primary care force is dwindling because the existing insurance payments and system create incentives for students to specialize rather than work as primary care physicians.

Presentation

Dr. Terry McInnis PowerPoint Presentation

 

Creating Consensus: A New Role for Legislators

Christine Carlson, JD
Senior Advisor
Policy Consensus Initiative

There are two tracks in democratic decision making: traditional and informal. Traditional involves formal debate, and decisions are made using a majority vote. Informal decision making involves negotiation and compromise, and consensus is used to reach a decision. To avoid disagreement and reach a decision, legislators can be proactive or reactive. When taking a proactive approach on a contentious issue, discussions start by trying to build a consensus between stakeholders so that future problems can be mitigated. However, it is inevitable that conflict will occur. When this happens, it is important to fight to overcome differences through trust-based negotiation which hopefully leads to collaboration so that the group can work together.

A person designated as a convener is important in consensus building. This person is ideally interested in working towards a solution but does not dictate the solution. It is important that when convening it is an inclusive situation, meetings occur at a neutral place, there is impartiality, and that things keep moving. Finally, when convening there should always be an outcome.

Question and Answer

Q: How do you control negative, dominating voices so that you can move forward?
C: Have a good facilitator, whether it’s you or someone else. Set ground rules on the process and get participant buy-in on the process.

Q: On controversial topics, when convening a group of stakeholders hasn’t worked and you still can’t get resolution, what do you do?
C: It doesn’t always work, but it can be helpful in starting a dialogue.

Presentation and Additional Handout

Christine Carlson PowerPoint Presentation

Policy Consensus Initiative's Legislators at a Crossroads

 

Redistricting

Justin Levitt, JD, MPA
Counsel
Brennan Center for Justice
New York University School of Law

The Brennan Center is a think tank, advocacy group, and law firm based at New York University, which studies redistricting practices and reform initiatives, presents testimony before decision makers, consults for advocates, and provides publications on redistricting. On April 1, 2011 states will receive redistricting data based on the 2010 census figures, and by the end of session in 2011 or early 2012 most redistricting will be complete. In most states the legislature has primary control of drawing the district lines. If the legislature or other entities are unable to draw district lines then ultimately courts decide. In the last cycle courts drew legislative districts in seven states and drew nine congressional districts. Federal protections require equal population in the districts, “one person, one vote.” The Voting Rights Act also must be taken into account so that minority votes are not diluted. The principles for effective redistricting include: meaningful transparency, meaningful independence, meaningful diversity, and meaningful guidance.

Meaningful transparency includes multiple opportunities for the public to have input in the process, data and tools to facilitate response, and an explanation from the redistricting body. Redistricting bodies should invite input about communities. Meaningful independence relates to the autonomy of those redistricting; personal and political biases cannot be included. This is not the same as taking politics out of redistricting. Legislatures still have a role in selecting those who draw the lines as well as reviewing the lines after they are drawn. Meaningful diversity means that those who draw the lines should reflect the state as a whole and the redistricting body should be a sufficient size to include a diverse membership. Lastly, meaningful guidance involves setting criteria that reflects basic goals while allowing enough flexibility to take into account local exceptions.

Question and Answer

Q: The census refuses to allow statistical correction of population. Any hope of overturning that rule?
L: Two big cases leave it up to the census to determine; this one won’t likely include it for redistricting purposes.

Q: How quickly do you have to have an election after the census occurs?
L: There’s no real guideline. Districts can’t be over- or under-populated, but the time limit hasn’t ever been clarified. Most try to redistrict within the first legislative cycle after a census.

Q: Who do we count in the census? Registered voters or whole population?
L: The census counts every person residing in a congressional district; for state districts, though, the Supreme Court says that if a state or local government has a good enough reason to limit that, it may be okay.

Q: One way to alleviate the concerns with accurate representation of population in a district is to include prisoners in the census for their home districts, not the district in which they’re imprisoned.

Presentation and Additional Handout

Justin Levitt PowerPoint Presentation

The Brennan Center for Justice Redistrcting Handout

 

Successful Campaign Tactics

Lewis Mazanti, MA
Curator and Archivist
Political Communication Center
The University of Oklahoma

A political campaign involves the actions a candidate takes to win an election; these tactics may include polling and advertising. Benchmark polling is used to match opponents, develop a candidate’s theme, adjust image, and adjust communication style. The legitimate use of polling is to supply information; poll questions should not be designed to influence respondents or provide misleading data.

Political campaign advertising can serve different purposes including encouraging voters to vote for you (positive ad), encouraging voters not to vote for your opponent (negative ad), encouraging voters not to believe attacks made on you (response ad), or any combination of these. Positive ads are a good way to increase a candidate’s name recognition and create a positive association between the candidate and voters. Negative ads are used to question an opponent’s fitness for office. Negative ads do work if they are deemed as credible by the viewer. However, they may also cause a backlash if they are viewed as unethical or incredible. Negative ads cannot be false, deceptive or misleading. If a candidate is attacked with a negative ad, they should respond as soon as possible and attack the message and the attacker’s credibility. Negative ads should not be used in the final days and hours of a campaign as they can be seen as desperate. Polling and advertisements, both positive and negative, play a role in political campaigns, but these tools should be used carefully to convey the correct message.

Question and Answer

Q: Who do last minute negative ads usually affect and do they really make a difference?
M: These kinds of ads are usually aimed at swing voters.

Q: How does early voting affect ads?
M: It means that you should gather information as early as you can, and get as much as you can. Identify the vulnerabilities of the opponent and get that info out as soon as you can.

Presentation

Lewis Mazanti PowerPoint Presentation

 

A Balanced Energy Approach for States

Lewis Milford, JD
President
Clean Energy Group

Megan Bloomgren
Executive Director of Strategy
United States Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for 21st Century Energy

The energy landscape in the US is changing, due to a variety of policy and economic circumstances, including the impact of potential federal energy legislation. Many states have already begun to adopt renewable portfolio standards and provide incentives for economic development through energy investments, but when adopted, federal energy legislation will require states to create and implement an energy strategy. Implementing new federal energy requirements may include: renewable energy portfolio standards and some combination of energy efficiency investments, coal, nuclear or oil and natural gas; revision of regulatory process and siting/permitting rules; modernizing infrastructure; and other investments. As a result, states will need to implement strategic models (project development; investment; industry investment; R&D; or combination of approaches) to take advantage of federal funding assistance and public-private partnerships, identify state funding and investment, and administer adopted energy strategies.

Presentations

Lewis Milford PowerPoint Presentation

Megan Bloomgren PowerPoint Presentation

 

Media Pitfalls and Opportunities

Mimi Bliss
Founder and Owner
Bliss Communications

A legislator’s role as a spokesperson is to be a reliable, credible, and accessible source of information. In this role scrutiny is often faced, and it is important to think before speaking, as words can be archived on the Internet. When working with the media always take a few minutes to prepare, do not go off the cuff, establish procedures for handling media calls, designate a staff person as the media contact, and build relationships with reporters.

Interviews with reporters are an important way for legislators to share their message but can also be dangerous if the interviewee is not adequately prepared. When conducting an interview do not repeat negative messages, speculate or speak for others, or say “no comment.” It is important to prepare, tell the truth, be concise, focus on solutions, and bridge to your message. When interviewing on television it is important to look at the interviewer and not the camera, sit or stand straight up, and always assume that the camera and microphone are turned on.

Question and Answer

Q: How should one handle one-line misquotes after spending significant time talking to a journalist?
B: Ask yourself if it’s a serious enough misquote to warrant requesting a correction. If it is a persistent problem, particularly with the same journalist, call the reporter and ask about your concerns and how best to work with that reporter. You may even need to call the editor if the reporter doesn’t work with you. But never get mad. You may also want to re-cap your points with the reporter at the end of the interview and ask if you can have the quotes read back to you, then send a follow-up email with your major points.

Presentation and Additional Handout

Mimi Bliss PowerPoint Presentation

Tips for a Successful Media Interview

 

Healthcare Reform in the States

Herb Schultz, MPP
Senior Advisor to the Governor
Office of the Governor
State of California

Federal healthcare reform will bring many changes to the states, as it may likely require states to address: universal coverage; cost containment and affordability; coverage expansion; individual mandates; and regulations regarding denial of coverage for pre-existing conditions. In California and many other states, this is not seen as a partisan issue. Rather, it raises challenges regarding unfunded federal mandates on states and potential costs to states, and states cannot divorce healthcare reform from discussions of and decisions regarding the state budget. 

Question and Answer

Q: What are your thoughts on the lawsuits claiming federal healthcare reform is illegal or unconstitutional?
S: If you look at other major healthcare reforms over the years, they also included individual mandates, so I think this is just politics.

Q: Given the current economy, to add additional costs to the states is problematic, especially since states will have to take the money from other programs.
S: Yes, this could be a particularly difficult scenario for states that have constitutional requirements to balance their budget.

Q: Hawaii was written out of the federal bill because it already has coverage, but the federal bill could still create adverse impacts on Medicare. What is going to happen to Medicare coverage?
S: There’s not a lot of money. This bill makes huge changes to Medicare, but clarifying legislation should reverse some of these adverse changes.

Additional Handout

2010-11 Budget Proposal: Adding Up California’s Fair Share And Building An Equitable Fiscal Partnership With The Federal Government

 

The Value of Mentors and Mentoring

Representative Laura Hall
Alabama State Legislature

Many legislators believe that the presence of a strong mentor positively impacted them in their legislative career and their work-life balance. A mentor is there both to help you avoid common pitfalls and to challenge you to rise to the occasion when given the opportunity. Mentors can provide the support needed when competing stakeholders lead to difficult decision-making, and can be the sounding board for floating new ideas. Mentors can cheer you on and give you constructive criticism – both of which are needed to grow in your legislative career. For those of you who have enjoyed a mentor in your life, you should not only thank that person, but also become a mentor for someone else.
 

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