by Karl Kurtz
Yesterday's The Oklahoman has an interesting story, "Lawmaker's service spans Oklahoma, New Hampshire," about Oklahoma state Rep. Richard Morissette, who earlier in his career served in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. As a Democrat, Morissette has served in the minority in both legislatures, and he has some interesting comments on the role of the minority party in those two very different house chambers.
We at NCSL contributed to the story, but there's more to it than the reporter, Jennifer Mock, chose to include. First of all, the other two current legislators we know about who have served in more than one state are two former North Carolina legislators: Rep. David Balmer who now serves in the Colorado House and Alaska Rep. Peggy Wilson. This is not a comprehensive list but rather the product of the collective knowledge of half a dozen NCSL staff. Add a comment below or send us an email if you know of other legislators who have served in more than one state.
Second, the article doesn't say much about why it's a relatively rare occurrence. I think one reason is that legislators, by the nature of their desire to do community service, are people who are very rooted in their communities--more likely than the average person to have grown up in the same state/city/town that they represent and more likely to stay there.
Another factor is that having the time to serve in the legislature and the ability to get elected are related to age: the older you are, the more time, resources and credibility in the community you are likely to have. Thus, the great majority of state legislators are in their 40s and 50s and older. People of that age are less likely to move from state to state.
Here's another example of legislative life in two different states: Steve Maviglio, the deputy chief of staff to California Speaker Fabian Nuñez, previously served three terms in the New Hampshire House of Representatives. Of course, state legislators often move onto other positions of distinction, including Congress and President of the United States. And staffers often become legislators in their home state, just as legislators occasionally become staffers. But this instance is noteworthy because a legislator in one state became a staffer in another.