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National Governors Association: New CEO, New Way of Doing Business

Governors across the country gather this weekend in Washington, D.C., to discuss the most important issues facing the nation. Their association has been reinvigorated by new CEO Scott Pattison.

The National Governors Association is open for business.

Open to talking about the issues that matter most to states and the way governors are working to innovatively solve those challenges. Open to answering questions about state and federal legislative issues and our bipartisan priorities. And open to sharing our expertise and wealth of information about state policy.

In just the last few months, “new day” has been the buzz at NGA.

We have been busy implementing policies that reflect new organizational values: transparency and openness, with an emphasis on improved communication. This will be on display at the NGA Winter Meeting later this week in Washington, DC.

The NGA Winter Meeting brings together more than 40 governors to discuss some of the most important issues happening in the states.

One theme running throughout the meeting is the economy. The opening session will feature a panel of the nation’s foremost economists, including those from Moody’s Analytics, Bank of America, BP America and The Conference Board. In that session, governors and economists will discuss the state of the U.S. economy and if we are headed into recession. Later that day, a group of CEOs will discuss how governors can strike a balance with economic development and jobs in a changing economy. On Sunday, one session will center around how states can attract companies and direct investment, discussing what firms care about.

On Saturday afternoon, governors will discuss how to address the nation’s opioid crisis, a deadly epidemic plaguing all states. They will hear from the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, the American Medical Association and Walgreens. At that session, they will explore ways to strengthen partnerships between governors and the private sector to end the epidemic.

Other highlights include discussions around conservation with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, how governors can join forces to prepare for the next catastrophic weather event and how to implement recent federal education policy that returns power to the states.

The meeting will close with a session on state innovation. NGA Chair, Gov. Gary Herbert of Utah believes so strongly in state innovation that he focused his chair’s initiative on showcasing the breakthroughs that happen every day at the state level. That initiative is called “States: Finding Solutions, Improving Lives.” Gov. Herbert firmly believes the best solutions come from the states and occur when lawmakers reach across the aisle and work together.

In Gov. Herbert’s home state, the legislature was able to pass a civil rights and religious freedom law guaranteeing liberties to both the religious and LGBT communities. Yet another example is in Virginia, where NGA Vice Chair, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed landmark legislation to protect individuals’ digital identities and strengthen cyber crime laws.

And the momentum doesn’t stop there—NGA continues to build on a slew of congressional victories in favor of the states from 2015.

In January 2015, we laid out an aggressive federal agenda that included fixing the outdated No Child Left Behind law and ending “government-by-waiver,” funding long-term transportation projects to build the infrastructure this country needs to grow and prosper, fully funding governors’ discretionary funds to strengthen workforce programs, and giving states the flexibility they need to improve health care while reducing associated costs and leveling the playing field for all retailers by collecting state sales taxes from online purchases.

Those victories came from strong and persistent lobbying efforts, including the organization’s first endorsement in nearly 20 years (of the Every Student Succeeds Act, which in a rare bipartisan victory, passed the Senate 114-95).

It also happened because of the work of the NGA Center for Best Practices, our in-house think-tank, which works intimately with states on issues such as health care. In 2015, NGA held health care retreats in five states, as well as a national meeting, designed to establish a set of best practices that improve performance while reducing cost.

In true bipartisan fashion, NGA represents all governors collectively and therefore works for every citizen in our country.

It may be trite, but it’s also true: States are the laboratories of democracy in this country, a fact that holds special significance in a year with a lame-duck president, a Congress marred by partisan rancor and a media transfixed with an ever-dominating presidential election cycle.

There’s another story out there that doesn’t get nearly as much play. If you want to see true American progress, you don’t have to look that far. Just look to the states.

At NGA, our new mission is to shine a spotlight on that progress. Come see for yourself this weekend.

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