Two Idahoans among 20 receiving staff awards from National Conference of State Legislatures

Terri Franks-Smith, chief fiscal officer of the Idaho House, and Kristin Ford, the Legislature's librarian, are being honored this week at the NCSL Legislative Summit in Chicago.

Franks-Smith, 57, has worked for nine House speakers since she graduated from Boise High School in 1973. She also attended Boise State University, taking government accounting courses. She was honored by the Leadership Staff Section.

Ford, 45, has been with the Legislative Services Office since 1999. She has an English degree from the University of Alaska, a law degree from the University of Idaho and a master's in library science from the University of Washington. She was honored by the Legislative Research Librarians Staff Section.

In my 25 years of covering the Legislature, they rank among the best of a cadre of talented staffers who support lawmakers and fulfill their duties to the public.

Franks-Smith administers the House budget, bringing her questions about per diem, travel and other compensation. Ford manages a top-notch library and keeps vital records on legislative history. Just last week, Ford helped me understand the origins of laws that require partisan balance on 22 state boards and commissions, an important foundational aspect of a story that ran Sunday.

I reached both women Wednesday in Chicago.

"It feels great to be recognized," Franks-Smith said. "But in Idaho there are a lot of staffers who are very dedicated to the institution of the Legislature. I'm one of many."

Ford was awarded a plaque Wednesday morning at a meeting of legislative librarians. "I'm going to hang it very proudly," Ford said. "It's really nice to be recognized by colleagues in other states."

The 20 honorees this year come from 13 states. "These awards recognize the best of the best in legislative staff," said NCSL staff chair Michael Adams in a news release. "This recognition is well-deserved by the recipients, and it reflect positively on the institutions they serve and the colleagues they work with."

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