Executive Director’s Notebook: Warp speed

Governors' and Cabinet members at WGA's annual breakfast included, from left: Eugene Scalia (Labor), Kristi Noem (South Dakota), Kevin Stitt (Oklahoma), Jared Polis (Colorado), Andrew Wheeler (Environmental Protection Agency), Steve Sisolak (Nevada), David Ige (Hawaii), David Bernhardt (Interior), Gary Herbert (Utah), Steve Bullock (Montana), Laura Kelly (Kansas), Brad Little (Idaho), Kate Brown (Oregon), Doug Burgum (North Dakota), Lou Leon Guerrero (Guam), Ben Carson (Housing and Urban Development), Betsy DeVos (Education), Sonny Perdue (Agriculture), and WGA's Jim Ogsbury.

By Jim Ogsbury

If you want to see time fly, then you should consider working for Western Governors.  It seems like only yesterday that eleven of them assembled for the 2019 Winter Meeting in Las Vegas. But Western Governors move at warp speed, and that meeting is but a dot in the Association’s rearview mirror. The Governors greeted the new decade with a jolt of bipartisan energy and they have no intention of letting their feet off the gas. Consider the following highlights of 2020 so far.

Cabinet Secretary Breakfast: Six cabinet members met with twelve Western Governors to discuss regional issues on Feb. 9 at the headquarters of the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. The Administration was represented by the Honorable David Bernhardt (Interior), Sonny Perdue (Agriculture), Eugene Scalia (Labor), Ben Carson (Housing and Urban Development), Betsy DeVos (Education), and Andrew Wheeler (Environmental Protection Agency). Attending Western Governors included WGA Chair Doug Burgum (North Dakota), Vice Chair Kate Brown (Oregon), Jared Polis (Colorado), Lou Leon Guerrero (Guam), David Ige (Hawaii), Brad Little (Idaho), Laura Kelly (Kansas), Steve Bullock (Montana), Steve Sisolak (Nevada), Kevin Stitt (Oklahoma), Kristi Noem (South Dakota), and Gary Herbert (Utah).

‘Out West’ Podcast Series: WGA delivers news about the Governors’ policy work through a variety of digital channels, including our website, email, video, and social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. We recently added a new platform with the debut of ‘Out West,” the official podcast of WGA. Our inaugural episode kicked off a series on Reimagining the Rural West Initiative (RTRW), the initiative of our Chair, Gov. Doug Burgum. We’ve since published the second episode. Give it a listen.

Inside the Beltway: On Feb. 6, I was honored to represent the Governors in testifying about FY 2021 appropriations priorities before the U.S. House  Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. I was back in our nation’s capital on Feb. 20 for the U.S. Department of  Agriculture's 96th annual Agricultural Outlook Forum, where I discussed the Western Governors’ work to promote shared stewardship as part of a panel discussion with Matt Lohr, the Chief of the Natural Resources and Conservation Service, and Vicki Christiansen, the Chief of the U.S. Forest Service.

Save the Dates for Governors’ Meetings:  Planning proceeds apace for the 2020 Annual Meeting, scheduled for  June 28-July 2 in Medora, North Dakota, as well as the 2020 Winter Meeting, planned for Dec. 9-10 in Coronado, California.

Policy Victories:  The Governors continue to score significant  policy victories, such as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision to withdraw its proposed Water Supply Rule.  The proposal, opposed by WGA,  would have had the effect of expanding federal authority over water resources, a traditional prerogative of the states.  (Find descriptions of our recent policy work here.)

Watch this space for updates on the activities of Western Governors throughout the year. They’re moving so fast that if you blink, you’re likely to miss something. 

Jim Ogsbury is the Executive Director of the Western Governors' Association. Contact him at 303-623-9378 or send an email. Get the latest news about the West and its governors by following the Western Governors' Association on TwitterFacebook and LinkedIn.

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