Recent SLC News and Updates

Oklahoma to Arkansas Staff Exchange
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November 4-5, 2019 | Little Rock, Arkansas

Legislative Staff Exchange
Bill Conflicts Report

The SLC arranged for staff from the Oklahoma Legislature to travel to Little Rock, Arkansas, to learn more about the Bureau of Legislative Research’s (BLR) bill conflicts report, an online tool that identifies when introduced legislation conflicts with existing state law. While seeking out models for their system, BLR staff visited West Virginia in 2016, under the auspices of the SLC’s Legislative Staff Exchange Program, to learn about the state’s nationally recognized code conflict software. Staff members from BLR briefed their Oklahoma counterparts on the creation and main functions of the bill conflicts report and provided a demonstration of the system.

SLC Delegation on Medical Marijuana Regulation

October 29-30, 2019 | Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Medical Marijuana Regulation

A delegation of legislators from the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) traveled to Oklahoma City to study the state’s medical marijuana industry. Using Oklahoma as a case study, participants had an opportunity to learn about the challenges and opportunities that arise from the legalization, regulation and implementation of medical marijuana programs.

Participants received briefings about the 2018 ballot initiative and subsequent legislation that enabled the state’s medical marijuana program, as well as the regulations and licensure requirements that have been implemented to monitor the growth, distribution and usage of medical marijuana. Participants also learned about the impacts of medical marijuana legalization on the state’s agriculture sector and various challenges it poses for law enforcement agencies. Officials from the Legislature, Department of Health, Farm Bureau and Bureau of Narcotics briefed delegates on these issues.

Participants also had the opportunity to tour one of the state’s medical marijuana growing operations and processing facilities, followed by a visit to a medical marijuana dispensary, both in Guthrie. The sheriff of Logan County attended a luncheon with participants to share his perspective on Oklahoma’s medical marijuana program, how it can be improved in the future, and what other legislators can learn from the state’s experiences.

The delegation was hosted by Senator Casey Murdock, Oklahoma, acting chair of SLC’s Agriculture & Rural Development Committee. Delegation participants included Representative Danny Crawford, Alabama; Representative Micah Gravley, Georgia; Representative Richard Health, Kentucky; Senator Chuck Hall, Oklahoma; Representative Ron Travis, Tennessee; Senator Katrina Shealy, South Carolina, chair of SLC’s Human Services & Public Safety Committee; and Senator Danny Verdin, South Carolina, past chair of SLC’s Agriculture & Rural Development Committee.

Congratulations to the 2019 CALS Class
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October 5-9, 2019 | Little Rock, Arkansas

Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills - Class of 2019

The Southern Legislative Conference of The Council of State Governments recently convened the 13th annual Center for the Advancement of Leadership Skills (CALS), a leadership development program for new and mid-career state executive, legislative and judicial branch officials..

The 2019 program convened in Little Rock, Arkansas, and included leaders from Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia. The interactive sessions focused on topics including communication styles and group dynamics; managing conflict and difficult discussions; leading across generations; and building a culture of ethics and excellence.

Brandon P. Fleming, assistant debate coach at Harvard University and founder/CEO of the Harvard Diversity Project, delivered the closing keynote on how debate empowers emerging leaders. For more information on CALS, visit

SLC Georgia Cyber Center Delegation
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September 12-13, 2019 | Augusta, Georgia

Fiscal Affairs & Government Operations Committee Delegation
Georgia Cyber Center

A delegation of legislators from the Southern Legislative Conference (SLC) traveled to Augusta, Georgia, to visit the Georgia Cyber Center (GCC), the single largest investment to date in a cybersecurity facility by a state government. The GCC is a unique public-private partnership involving the state and federal government, military, academia, law enforcement and private sector. The Center is designed to meet the growing demand for trained cyber security professionals in Georgia, the Savannah River region and across the nation.

Participants received briefings from representatives of Augusta University and Augusta Technical College, both of which are located on the GCC’s campus and directly involved in providing cyber security education and training programs to students. Delegation members also received a briefing from the special agent in charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, who discussed the evolution of crime in cyberspace, and from the director of the Cyber Workforce Academy, which is tasked with developing a cyber security workforce at the GCC.

Participants also toured Fort Gordon in Augusta – home to the U.S. Army Cyber Command, National Security Agency Georgia and the Cyber School of Excellence – which played an integral role in the creation of the GCC and continues to be an important source of economic growth for the Augusta metropolitan area.

Delegation participants included Representative Manly Barton, Mississippi, chair of SLC’s Economic Development, Transportation and Cultural Affairs Committee; Representative Giovanni Capriglione, Texas; Representative Fredrick J. Love, Arkansas, vice chair of SLC’s Human Services and Public Safety Committee; Senator Kerry Roberts, Tennessee; Senator Wil Schroder, Kentucky; and Senator Ryan Weld, West Virginia.

Electronic Filing of Regulations

September 9-10, 2019 | Richmond, Virginia

Legislative Staff Exchange
Electronic Filing of Regulations
The SLC arranged for legislative staff from the Arkansas Bureau of Legislative Research (BLR) to travel to Richmond, Virginia, to learn more about the state’s Regulation Information System (RIS), a web-enabled application to file regulations and rules with the Registrar of Regulations for publication in the Virginia Register of Regulations. Arkansas House Bill 1429 (2019) requires BLR to compile, format and index the codification of all state agency rules. Staff members from the Division of Legislative Services briefed their Arkansas counterparts on the development and main functions of the RIS and also provided a demonstration of the system.

Seal of Oklahoma

August 29, 2019

Legislative Employment Opportunity

The Oklahoma Legislative Office of Fiscal Transparency (LOFT) Oversight Committee is seeking a highly motivated, talented and credible professional to fill the LOFT Director position. The Director will oversee state agency budget analysis and performance evaluations as necessary to assist the Legislature in its oversight of executive branch agencies.

LOFT is a new office created by Oklahoma State Senate Bill 1 in 2019 to ensure fiscal and program integrity. It will be similar to the Government Accountability Office and Congressional Budget Office at the federal level. For the full job description and application information, please click here.

2019 Carter Hellard Award

August 14, 2019 | Atlanta, Georgia

2019 Carter/Hellard Legislative Staff Award

The Carter/Hellard Legislative Staff Award is given annually to a staff member who has demonstrated excellence and dedication in service to state legislatures in the South. Betsy Howerton, deputy legislative counsel for the Georgia General Assembly, was selected by the members of the Legislative Service Agency (LSA) Directors Group as the winner of the 2019 Carter/Hellard award. Speaker David Ralston and Legislative Counsel Rick Ruskell nominated Howerton for the award.

Howerton joined the Office of Legislative Counsel in 2002, having previously worked for Georgia’s Department of Transportation and Department of Education. In addition to serving as deputy legislative counsel, Howerton is the staff attorney for the House Committees on Education, Health and Human Services and Code Revision.

In his nomination letter, Speaker Ralston described Howerton as someone “who is always a pleasure to work with and provides much needed expert advice on complex issues our state seeks to address and improve upon. She handles these arduous tasks without any indication that the pressure has been too much, because she handles it all with grace.”

Marcia Johnson, chair of the LSA Directors Group, presented the award to Howerton in a ceremony at the Georgia State Capitol on August 14. Among those present were Speaker Ralston, Legislative Counsel Rick Ruskell, Director of the House Budget and Research Office Martha Wigton, SLC Director Colleen Cousineau and Research and Publications Associate Nick Bowman.

July 25, 2019

2019 STAR Award Winners

The State Transformation in Action Recognition (STAR) Judges Panel – comprising state legislators, legislative staff and policy experts – reviewed application materials and presentations of the five finalists and voted online to select two winners of the 2019 STAR award: Kentucky’s MyPURPOSE and Tennessee Reconnect.

2019 STAR Award Kentucky
Kentucky Personnel Cabinet: MyPURPOSE

In 2017, the Kentucky Personnel Cabinet established a talent management strategy and vision to affect how the Commonwealth attracts, recruits, and retains talent. Launched in 2018, MyPURPOSE provides a visually engaging portal for external job applicants, the ability to quickly apply for jobs via mobile or desktop applications or through a LinkedIn profile, and a means for state agencies to customize job postings by including videos with job posts.

MyPURPOSE also created an internal portal for state employees, which provides access to promotional opportunities and professional development. State employees can take advantage of a catalog of more than 1,400 curated courses for personal and professional growth, at no cost. Since going live in July 2018, MyPURPOSE has seen:

  • 74,000+ registered users (candidates and employees),
  • 207,000+ training registrations/completions, and
  • 2,500 candidates hired.

2019 STAR Award Kentucky
Tennessee Higher Education Commission: Tennessee Reconnect

Tennessee Reconnect is an initiative to help more adults return to higher education by providing a last-dollar scholarship that pays any tuition and fees charged at community colleges that are not covered by other sources of grant aid. These scholarship awards, on average, are approximately $1,000 per student.

In fall 2013, former Governor Bill Haslam announced his “Drive to 55,” with the goal that 55 percent of Tennesseans would hold a postsecondary credential by the year 2025. At the time, 36 percent of Tennesseans met this benchmark. Following the success of programs serving younger age groups, updates and modifications were made to Tennessee’s free college framework to serve adults.

Tennessee Reconnect was developed in response to the needs of employers across the state. In focus groups, they stated that there were numerous job vacancies that could not be filled, as applicants for these jobs did not have the appropriate training or skills, particularly in technical fields. With this scholarship program, Tennesseans of all ages can earn the relevant, marketable credentials necessary to succeed in the labor market. Since implementation, state-wide postsecondary degree attainment has increased to 43 percent.

July 13-17, 2019 | New Orleans, Louisiana

SLC Annual Meeting Cancelled
Due to Hurricane Barry, the 2019 SLC Annual Meeting is cancelled. Registered attendees have been sent an email with details on registration, housing and travel. Please see the Annual Meeting home page for additional details.