The Mackinac Center launched the Capitol Leaders Program in 2017 for legislative staffers, the hardworking folks who do all the behind-the-scenes tasks for state politicians. They spend a lot of their time handling constituent relations, crafting communication messages and managing the busy calendar of their state senator or representative.

Although staffers have a love for good public policy, it’s easy for them to get caught up in the day-to-day shuffle of running a legislative office in Lansing. That’s where the Mackinac Center came in. We wanted to provide staffers with a forum to learn more about free-market principles and sound public policy so that they could improve their ability, as staffers, to protect and expand liberty for Michiganders.

To that end, we hosted a monthly meeting in Lansing for 15 program participants. The topic of these sessions — ranging from detailed descriptions of complex policy phenomena to life lessons to economic theories about political incentives — were geared to help participants become more knowledgeable and effective legislative staffers.

Participants in the program were impressed with the lineup of speakers we arranged to present at these monthly meetings. They included newspaper editorialists, economists from large Michigan public universities, longtime Lansing insiders, former state politicians, legislative leaders and more.

In addition to learning more about important policy issues, participants could use these monthly meetups to share ideas and challenges with their colleagues in other legislative offices. With their busy schedules, it’s often difficult for these staffers to find time to collaborate with others, but the Capitol Leaders Program provided them some.

Legislative staffers are often overlooked in the political world, but the work they do is nevertheless extremely important. The Capitol Leaders Program is helping develop effective staffers who are principled for the causes of limited government, free markets and the rule of law.