Connecting America 2003: National Conference of State Legislatures: The Forum for America's Ideas

State Legislatures, October-November 2003 | Go to article overview

Connecting America 2003: National Conference of State Legislatures: The Forum for America's Ideas


As states' economies negotiated a precarious corner this summer, legislators from across the nation met in San Francisco to find strength, hope and inspiration in each other. The National Conference of State Legislatures brings together policymakers and experts from all corners of the country each year at its Annual Meeting to learn from one another, elect new leaders and vote on the policy resolutions that will guide NCSL's federal lobbying efforts through the year.

From their position on the front lines of American policy, state legislatures today are charged with colossal tasks. The issues now facing this nation are born of very basic needs: education, health care and security,, to name a few. The $200 billion budget gap states have had to close in the past three years--the deepest in decades--has cost these core programs. But the worst of times are the best times to gather. "Connecting America," NCSL's 29th Annual Meeting, was among its most important.

"These are the worst budget problems states have experienced since NCSL was established in 1975," said Maryland Delegate John Hurson, NCSL president elect. "The opportunity to get together with colleagues from around the nation and learn from each other was valuable."

The conference drew more than 6,000 people: state legislators and staff, industry and government representatives, news reporters, and even international attendees. They heard from expert speakers, including Sung Won Sohn, executive vice president and chief economic officer for Wells Fargo Banks; Uwe Reinhard, Princeton University health economics professor, and Melinda Gates, cofounder or the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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Connecting America 2003: National Conference of State Legislatures: The Forum for America's Ideas
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