New Clerk Tested Early

MAY 2004
- Welch Key To Senate Operations - In public service, there are countless individuals whose hard work
and dedication go largely unseen by the public. The service that these
employees provide is often invaluable to the successful operation of
government.

While the elected
officials who make up the body of the Legislature are at the forefront
of public scrutiny, there are several hundred clerks, aides, advisors
and other support staff working quietly behind the scenes. Perhaps most
important among these individuals are the clerks of the House and
Senate, who run the day-to-day operations of the Legislature.

This
past fall, William F. Welch of Milford was named interim Clerk of the
Senate, replacing Patrick Scanlan of Salem, who retired last year under
the state early retirement incentive. After a short stint as interim
Clerk, Welch was officially named as the Clerk of the Senate in January.

Among
the many legislative duties of the Clerk is the responsibility of
readying, preparing and tracking each of the thousands of bills and
amendments that pass through the Senate during the session. In
addition, the clerk is the chief parliamentarian of the body, advising
the Senate President as to the rules and procedures of debate.

Upon
taking office in November, Welch and his staff were immediately faced
with the daunting task of addressing scores of gubernatorial veto
overrides that had recently been sent to the Senate after having passed
the House. Under Senate rules, each roll call vote is conducted by the
clerk, who calls upon each Senator, by name, to verbally state their
vote. This lengthy process, which is a longstanding Senate tradition,
is different from that of the House, which employs an electronic voting
system.

"Having just taken over the
job from Pat (Scanlan), I was a little nervous going into the override
debate. Any fear I had was quickly forgotten when I saw how smoothly
things were going," recalls Welch. "My staff did a fantastic job and I
cannot say enough good things about them. I have always thought that I
worked with a great group of people, but to see them perform at the
highest level really made me proud."

Up Through The Ranks

Bill
Welch started his career in public service during the summer of 1970,
as an intern for then-Senate Clerk Norman Pigeon. It was then that
Welch caught the political bug that draws many to government service,
because upon graduating from St. Joseph's University in 1971, he went
to work fulltime in the Clerk's office as the 4th clerical assistant.

The
son of two public school teachers, the 54 year old Welch raised two
sons in nearby Milford. His mother, Mary is an Association member.

Over
the years, Welch received his law degree and continued his way up the
ranks in the Senate. He was made assistant clerk in 1999, when Scanlan
became Clerk of the Senate, following the death of longtime Clerk
Edward O'Neill.

Thirty-two years of
experience served him well this past February, when only three months
into his new job Welch took on the duties of clerking a joint session
of the Legislature meeting in Constitutional Convention. Up for debate
was the highly controversial and emotional topic of gay marriage.
Welch, along with House Clerk Steve James, successfully managed the
convention, which lasted for two days without resolution, before
recessing for another session in March.

"Bill
Welch is well-known for his hard work and dedication to the job. The
Senate and House have had some topnotch clerks over the years and Bill
is right up there with them," said Ralph White. "As a guy who is still
playing hockey in his fifties, I knew that Bill would be unphased by
all of the hoopla surrounding the Constitutional Convention. He is a
real pro and it shows in his work."

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