Western Governors’ News: Arizona declares Rural Health Day, Oregon trade mission to Asia, South Dakota raises awareness for MMIW, Montana releases outdoor recreation plan

The Western Governors' Association offers a regular roundup of news showcasing the work of Western Governors in economic development, natural resources, education, health and safety, and other areas. Here is what the Western Governors have been working on recently:

ALASKA Gov. Mike Dunleavy, recently visited Japan on a trade mission focused on promoting the state’s abundant natural resources. “For decades, Alaska and Japanese citizens, businesses, and our governments have formed relationships through cultural, educational, and economic partnerships, Gov. Dunleavy said. “I would like to congratulate our economic and energy partners on 50 years of working together.”

AMERICAN SAMOA Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga and his administration presented a check for more than $300,000 to Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Aiono Sailele to help the country fight its recent measles outbreak. The money, according to Samoa News, was raised through donations and mandatory contributions from American Samoa government workers.     

ARIZONA Gov. Doug Ducey declared Nov. 21, 2019 as Rural Health Day, reaffirming the state’s commitment to ensuring access to high-quality health care. “Arizona’s rural communities are vital to the state’s strong sense of community and economic growth,” Gov. Ducey said. “In recognition of rural communities, their evolving health care needs and their contributions to the entire state, Arizona is proud to celebrate Rural Health Day.”

CALIFORNIA Gov. Gavin Newsom issued a proclamation, declaring November, 2019 as Native American Heritage Month in his state. “We recognize the rich diversity of the Native American peoples and their long history here,” Gov. Newsom wrote. “Today, Native Americans work to confront some of the most pressing challenges for all Americans. They make vital contributions in renewable energy, disaster and emergency response, health care, natural resource management, job creation, and so much more.”

COLORADO Gov. Jared Polis released a Rural Economic Blueprint, outlining how his administration plans to address concerns and challenges facing the state’s rural communities. The blueprint is focused on expanding rural access to broadband services, tackling high health care costs, repairing rural roads and bridges, investing in rural economic development, and supporting farming and ranching communities.

GUAM Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero met with representatives from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to discuss the future of Guam Memorial Hospital, the island’s only civilian hospital. The Guam Daily Post reports that talks centered around whether the current facility should undergo repairs, or if an entirely new facility should be built in its place.

HAWAII Gov. David Ige announced that the state’s general obligation (G.O.) bond credit ratings had reached their highest levels in history, after Fitch Ratings upgraded Hawaii’s G.O bond rating from AA to AA+. “This is significant because we could potentially save millions in taxpayer dollars on interest payments,” Gov. Ige said. “The state is also better positioned for the next recession, reducing the need to raise taxes or cut services.”

IDAHO Gov. Brad Little accepted recommendations from The Idaho Broadband Task Force, an entity he created via executive order back in May of 2019. The recommendations include updating the state’s plan for maximizing federal funds, establishing a state broadband office, and formalizing policies for lowering investment costs. “In a data-driven society, connectivity is imperative for a vital economy,” Gov. Little said. “Improved broadband infrastructure ensures both urban and rural Idaho will be connected and well-positioned to attract business and enhance our citizens’ quality of life.”

KANSAS Gov. Laura Kelly announced the recipients of more than $20 million in Federal Victims of Crime Act Victim Assistance grant money, which was generated from federal fines, penalty assessments, forfeited appearances and bail bonds. “Grants for programs that assist victims and survivors of crime are so critical to Kansans,” Gov. Kelly said. “No one should have to go through this process alone. These grants will help fund the programs that victims and survivors can access during tragic situations.”

MONTANA Gov. Steve Bullock released his Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan, a five-year strategic framework that identifies trends, issues, and challenges facing the state’s outdoor recreation industry. “The quality of life that our state offers is second to none, with unparalleled access to world class recreational opportunities,” Gov. Bullock said. “The plan addresses how we, as a state, can protect and enhance the outdoor recreation assets that sustain our economy and our livelihoods and support opportunities for residents and visitors alike.”

NEVADA Gov. Steve Sisolak recently announced that the state is partnering with the SANS Institute to Launch Girls Go Cyberstart, a free program that teaches cybersecurity skills to high school-aged girls. “It’s critical that young women across Nevada have access to the education and experiences that will prepare them for exciting careers in STEM fields,” Gov. Sisolak told NBC News 4. “Initiatives like Girls Go Cyberstart inspire our students to discover a passion for innovation and find their pathway to a rewarding career.”

NEW MEXICO Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen signed a shared stewardship agreement, aimed at strengthening relations between state and federal entities on issues related to natural resources on public forest lands, according to AP News. “Our tendency has been to focus on our authorities and our independence and our disagreements, which means we never solve them,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said.

NORTH DAKOTA Gov. Doug Burgum, along with First Lady Kathryn Burgum, hosted the third Recovery Reinvented event, which focused on eliminating the stigma of addiction, educating on the brain science of addiction and empowering recovery support in communities. “North Dakota is a very special place because this is one of the places where everyone can come together to work on a problem,” Gov. Burgum said. “When we can empower people, give them the tools and resources, we can improve their lives and we can inspire success for others.”

OKLAHOMA Gov. Kevin Stitt commuted the sentences of more than 400 non-violent offenders across the state in what officials are calling the largest single-day mass commutation in the country's history, NBC News reports. "This marks an important milestone of Oklahomans wanting to focus the state's efforts on helping those with nonviolent offenses achieve better outcomes in life," Stitt said in a statement. "The historic commutation of individuals in Oklahoma's prisons is only possible because our state agencies, elected officials, and partnering organizations put aside politics and worked together to move the needle.”

OREGON Gov. Kate Brown, along with a delegation of 38 public and private sector leaders, embarked on a trade mission to South Korea and Japan in order to promote foreign investment in the state. “Trade missions are a key avenue to expand Oregon's business and trade partnerships, promote our booming agricultural market, and support jobs for Oregonians throughout the state,” Gov. Brown said. “I am proud to share Oregon’s unique products, services, and companies with the rest of the world.”

SOUTH DAKOTA Gov. Kristi Noem hosted a ceremony in the state’s capitol, displaying a quilt to raise awareness for the tragedy of Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. “In June, I had the opportunity to join a horseback ride to raise awareness about the high rate of missing and murdered indigenous women – not just in South Dakota but around the country,” Gov. Noem said. “Following the ride, the riders presented a quilt that honors the women who are missing or have been murdered. I’m humbled by this gift and am grateful for the opportunity to display it in our statehouse.”

UTAH Gov. Gary Herbert announced that he would be dedicating $10.2 million of the state’s upcoming budget to ensure that K-12 students have the opportunity to access a computer science education. “Computer science teaches students about technology, encourages them to think critically, and helps them develop problem-solving skills,” Gov. Herbert said. “Improving computer science education in our state is crucial and will help prepare our next generation of learners, teachers, thinkers, and innovators to make a robust contribution in tomorrow’s digital world.”

WASHINGTON Gov. Jay Inslee appointed the state’s first Native American justice to the Washington State Supreme Court. “Because Judge Montoya-Lewis is Native American, many will focus on the historic nature of this appointment,” Gov. Inslee said. “And it’s entirely appropriate to do so. But I want the record to show that Judge Montoya-Lewis is the kind of exceptional judge I want serving on the highest court in our state because she is the best person for the job."

WYOMING Gov. Mark Gordon released a draft version of an executive order regarding big game migration corridors, which includes changes to the process for officially designating a corridor, the establishment of area working groups, and a requirement to actively engage with landowners. “My goal with this Executive Order is to identify solutions that would both protect our wildlife and support our economy through the multiple-use of public and state lands,” Gov. Gordon said.

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