The Importance of Legislative Staff

Connecticut’s State Capitol and Legislative Office Building are now partially open due to COVID-19. The legislature is still in recess. Many legislators and staff are still working from home, but they are returning calls and emails. Most committees and taskforces are still holding online meetings. Check the webpage or the Legislative Bulletin for details on attending meetings virtually. We will update this site again as things change.

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

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

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.

There are two types of legislative staff – partisan and nonpartisan. Partisan staff are chosen by the caucuses -- Senate Democrats, Senate Republicans, House Republicans, or House Democrats -- or by individual legislators. Partisan staff work for their 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 screening meetings to decide which bills to advance in the process.

Related articles

Legislators – who are they?

How a bill becomes a law

Champions

Visiting with a policymaker

Writing to a policymaker

Social media for advocates

Links

How a bill becomes a law in Connecticut from the CT League of Women Voters

Glossary of legislative terms

Inside the LOB blog on the importance of staff

Directions to the CT State Capitol and Legislative Office Building