Executive Director’s Notebook: Western Governors Rise Above

By Jim Ogsbury

One might think that, over the past year and a half, Western Governors have been so singularly focused on COVID-19 response, that they’ve had little bandwidth to pursue other priorities. To the contrary, with superhuman energy and optimism, the Governors have continued to collaborate on a bipartisan basis to protect the West and secure its future prosperity. The following provides a brief overview of some of their cooperative efforts on behalf of our region.

WGA’s 2021 Annual Report highlights the Governors’ impressive policy accomplishments and ongoing advocacy on topics such as broadband connectivity, workforce development, COVID-19, disaster response, cybersecurity, wildfires, species management, and water. It also describes the work of the Western Governors’ Foundation, including the launch of the Western Governors’ Leadership Institute.

Western Governors established the WGA Western Prosperity Roundtable to pursue policies that advance Western Governors’ vision for expanded prosperity throughout the West.  The Roundtable assembles community leaders, policy makers and experts to design strategies to promote vibrant communities and thriving local economies.

The Special Report of the Electric Vehicles Roadmap Initiative summarizes the significant work accomplished on the central policy effort of Oregon Governor Kate Brown during her year as WGA Chair. In addition to recommendations on federal policy issues that affect public and private investments in EV infrastructure across the West, the report includes an agreement among states around infrastructure planning that identifies voluntary standards to optimize infrastructure investments.

Western Governors recently approved policy resolutions on: Disaster Preparedness and Response, Transportation Infrastructure in the Western United States, Water Resource Management in the West, Cleaning Up Abandoned Hardrock Mines in the West, and Water Quality in the West. In all, the Governors approved 10 policy resolutions during our two most recent balloting cycles. Find all the resolutions, which guide the work of WGA, on our website.

Our recent Annual Meeting concluded with the election of Idaho Governor Brad Little as WGA Chair and Colorado Governor Jared Polis as Vice Chair. Governor Little’s Chair Initiative for the coming fiscal year will be Working Lands, Working Communities, which will examine the interdependent relationships between western communities and land resource managers. The initiative will be formally launched in a webinar on September 1.  A series of livestreamed workshops will commence on September 29-30 in Salt Lake City at an event hosted by Utah Governor Spencer Cox.  A second workshop, hosted by Governor Polis, is scheduled for October 7-8 in Denver.  Additional workshops, as well as webinars and podcasts, will produced by the initiative.  A final report will be published in connection with the 2022 Annual Meeting in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.

We’re looking forward to our 2021 Winter Meeting, to be held in person December 9-10 at Loews Coronado Bay Resort in beautiful Coronado, California. We’ll have an exciting program of special guests and thought-provoking roundtable discussions, so make plans to join us today.  More information on the Winter Meeting, including online registration and a draft agenda, will be available soon.

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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