- Policy Platforms
WGA Executive Director Jim Ogsbury, in an essay published by Route Fifty, outlined the ongoing work of Western Governors to expand broadband access by lobbying the federal government for improved broadband coverage maps, flexible funding strategies for schools and libraries, faster permitting for infrastructure deployment, and tribal connectivity.
In comments to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the Western Governors requested that officials with the Rural Utilities Service recognize that the current definition of broadband (25/3 Mbps) does not correspond with the requisite download and upload speeds for many business, education, and health care applications. They also expressed a desire to provide recommendations on the connectivity speeds.
WGA emphasized the importance of high-speed internet for rural communities and highlighted infrastructure challenges that complicate broadband deployment in the West in outreach to the leadership of the House Committee on Agriculture. The letter recommended these challenges be addressed via improvements in broadband data and mapping as well as investments in scalable infrastructure.
The Western Governors supported the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to revise its rules related to TV White Spaces devices, which accesses unused portions of the wireless spectrum between television channels. This spectrum can be used to deploy wireless internet over vast distances and challenging terrain, making it a connectivity solution for western rural communities where laying physical infrastructure is cost-prohibitive.
WGA shared the Governors’ policy work on enhancing career opportunities for students, graduates and displaced workers with the leadership of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions. The outreach asked leadership to consider WGA policy resolutions in advance of the "Committee’s bipartisan discussions to support, update and expand workforce training programs and to support and expand the National Apprenticeship Act."
WGA shared policy addressing health care challenges in the West – including access to mental health, behavioral health, and substance use services – with the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor & Pensions. The comments encouraged “Congress to adopt legislation that would empower states and local governments to address persistent economic and social conditions.”
In comments to the National Agricultural Statistics Service, WGA shared Western Governors’ policy on the need for "robust broadband connectivity" for advanced agriculture technologies. The letter noted that "the 2017 Census collected information regarding agricultural producers’ internet access, and deemed cable, digital subscriber line, fiber-optic and satellite technologies to be 'high-speed."
The ability to participate in the modern economy from home has become a necessity. To address this issue, Western states shifted in-person skills trainings, short-term education, and other workforce services to virtual delivery models. See examples of how western states have ensured that all Westerners can explore good careers and get the skills they need to get hired.