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National Association of Legislative Information Technology.

Walk into a state capitol building with a laptop, and chances are you will be able to connect to a free wireless network where you can access the legislature's Web site to monitor bills and bill status, subscribe to your own list of bills and get e-mails alerting you of changes in the bill status. You can send a message to your legislator, find answers to frequently asked questions, or perhaps find a guide to testifying before a committee. Kids in classrooms across the country can learn about representative democracy from Web pages designed specifically for them.

In legislative chambers in most states, you'll see legislators using laptops, cameras recording floor proceedings for the Internet and voting boards and sophisticated displays. You'll see front desk clerks logging actions and recording votes that will be the basis for the information used in journals and other documents used throughout the legislature.

Behind the scenes in every state are the individuals who make these services possible. Legislative information technology staff in the states are members of the National Association of Legislative Information Technology (NALIT) by virtue of their job description, have challenging positions man aging the fast pace of change in technology.

Jim Greenwalt, NCSL staff chair and a long-time member of NALIT, still remembers the days when legislatures were thought to be behind the curve on technology, and a handful of legislative IT staff met not in meeting rooms, but in a bar. Today, state legislatures are using state-of-the art technology and providing hi-tech services to increasingly savvy legislators.

NALIT is an active, energetic group that holds a popular annual Professional Development Seminar each fall (this year in Rapid City, S.D., on Oct. 5-8). NALIT members say that one of the most valuable aspects of the meeting is the ability to network with colleagues and share information about the unique aspects of managing and operating computer systems in the legislature. NALIT's Web site, newsletter, and listserv also provide resources for IT staff in the states.

"We work in a unique environment, and we are charged with developing technology solutions that will streamline and create efficiencies in the process without changing the process," says former NALIT Chair Sharon Crouch Steidel. "But legislative IT professionals also need to understand the environment we are in and the deliberative nature of the legislative institution."

In an association like NALIT, says Maryann Trauger of North Dakota, "you will find 200 advisers who can share their experiences, good and bad, and save you a great deal of time and money."

For more information about NALIT, contact NCSL's Pam Greenberg at (303) 364-7700, or pam.greenberg@ncsl.org.

--Pam Greenberg, NCSL

2005 Officers

President Delegate John Adams Hurson Chairman, Health and Government Operations Committee Maryland

President-Elect Senator Steven J. Rauschenberger Assistant Minority Leader Illinois

Vice President Senator Leticia Van de Putte Texas

Staff Chair James Greenwalt Director, Senate Information Systems and Administrative Services Minnesota

Staff Vice Chair Susan Clarke Schaar Clerk of the Senate Virginia

Professional Staff Organizations

American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries (ASLCS) Leadership Staff Section (LSS) Legal Services Staff Section (LSSS) Legislative Education Staff Network (LESN) Legislative information and Communications Staff Section (LINCS) Legislative Research Librarians (LRL) National Association of Legislative Fiscal Offices (NALFO) National Association of Legislative Information Technology (NALIT) National Legislative Program Evaluation Society (NLPES) National Legislative Services and Security Association (NLSSA) Research and Committee Staff Section (RACSS)
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Author:Greenberg, Pam
Publication:State Legislatures
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2005
Words:566
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