The end of the calendar year has brought an unusual flurry of changes in top legislative staff positions. Unusual because staff changes most often occur after elections at the end of a biennium, not so much in the middle of the normal two year cycle. Here is our staff's collective knowledge of major staff changes since about the first of September:
- It's not often that a retiring House staffer anywhere is described by current and former governors and House and Senate members as “a masterful politician,” “brilliant,” “invaluable” and “irreplaceable," but that's what they're saying about Arkansas House Parliamentarian Tim Massanelli. 78-year-old Tim is almost certainly the most senior top staffer who is departing: He began working for the Arkansas House in 1973 and has been parliamentarian since 1975.
- Laura Clemens, clerk of the Ohio House, has left that position to become director of government affairs for the Ohio Casino Control Commission. Laura is a past president of the American Society of Legislative Clerks and Secretaries (ASLCS) and member of the NCSL Executive Committee. Thomas Sherman, who preceded her as clerk when the House was under Democratic control, is the acting clerk.
- Joyce Bigbee, Director of the Alabama Legislative Fiscal Office, has announced that she is retiring January 1, 2012. Joyce has worked for the office for 33 years and has been director since 1987. She is a past president of the National Association of Legislative Fiscal Offices. Norris Green will become interim director.
- Rob Marchant, chief clerk and director of operations of the Wisconsin Senate since 2004, has resigned to become deputy secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds, which oversees the state pension system and the state employee health care system. Rob is the immediate-past president of ASLCS.
- Lorne Malkiewich has announced his intention to leave his positon as director of the Nevada Legislative Counsel Bureau before the next session of the Legislature in 2013. He began working for the LCB straight out of law school 30 years ago and has served as director for the last 18 years. A committee has been named to search for a replacement.
- Florida's Philip Twogood left his position as secretary of the Senate to become coordinator of the Legislature's Office of Program Planning and Government Accountability (OPPAGA). Phil is a former member of NCSL's Executive Committee. Debbie Brown is the interim secretary of the Florida Senate.
- Jillayne Rock is stepping down as secretary of the Illinois Senate to care for a new family. A search committee is seeking her replacement.
- Jeannine Wood, secretary of the Idaho Senate since 1990, has retired. Jeannine began work for the Legislature in 1976. A remarkable tribute to Jeannine by the Idaho Statesman's Dan Popkey begins, "The Idaho Senate has lost its queen. Secretary of the Senate Jeannine Wood has been a regal presence since 1990, overseeing lawmaking with grace, dignity and class." Jennifer Novak is the new secretary of the Senate.
- Luke Martland is the new director and chief counsel of the Vermont Legislative Council, replacing Emily Bergquist who took a position with the state Tax Department earlier this year. Luke has a decade of experience in New York state government in the offices of the attorney general and the governor.
- Patricia Mau-Shimizu, formerly chief clerk of the Hawaii House since 1993, is the new director of the Hawaii Bar Association. C.J. Leong is the acting chief clerk.
- Alaska Legislative Auditor Pat Davidson is retiring at the end of December 2011. Kristin Curtis will be acting legislative auditor.
- Dave Larson is retiring as director of Kansas Legislative Computing Services. Dave is a past president of the National Association of Legislative Information Technology.
- Larry Barish, manager of research and information services for the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau and editor of the Wisconsin Blue Book since 1987, is retiring at the end of the year. Larry served two terms as chair of NCSL's Research and Committee Staff Section.
Add a comment below or e-mail The Thicket if we have missed some changes in top leadership staff positions in the last several months.