LEGISLATIVE SCHOOLING: NATIONAL CONFERENCE OF STATE LEGISLATURES
We learned from top notch speakers at the general sessions. I was enthralled by the presentation of America’s most celebrated historian, David G. McCullough, author of 1776, John Adams, and Truman (I’ve read all three books). He talked about the extraordinary men who founded the United States and set it on course to greatness. McCullough is a two time winner of both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Wow! If ever you want to take a course in history, take it from this guy.
I was also impressed by the panel that gave insight into what makes for a great president of the United States. It was presented by David Gergan and Andrew Card, and moderated by Mara Liasson, political correspondent for National Public Radio. David Gergan was an advisor to Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Clinton - and is currently with Harvard University School of Government. Andrew (“Andy”) Card was recently the Chief of Staff for President George W. Bush.
After the general sessions, there were breakaway workshops on a large variety of subjects. Workshops I attended included “Legislative Services to Citizens,” presided by the Chief of Staff for the Kentucky House Majority Caucus, and “New Ways to Communicate with Constituents,” presided by the head of the California Center for Digital Government.
Considering the current tribulations in Alaska politics, I made it a special point to attend the workshop on “The Anatomy of Ethics Reform” presided by Professor Paula Franzese of the Seaton Hall School of Law, New Jersey, and sponsored by the Center of Ethics in Government. Panelists were our own Rep. John Coghill of North Pole, Alaska; Rep. Joe Hackney, Kentucky; Rep. Dennis Richardson, Washington.
Rep. Coghill made us proud and scored many points for our state, when he described how Alaska worked through our ethics legislation and amendments to bring them together successfully with the passage of HB109. This workshop on ethics was one of the most heavily attended workshops of the conference, with attendees from legislatures across the nation. It’s obvious Alaska isn’t a “Lone Ranger” when it comes to ethics problems.