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Governors working on state authority

Jim Ogsbury

It has been awhile since I offered an entry into the Executive Director’s Notebook, because recording the Governors’ many 2018 policy victories was so exhausting. Alas, there is no rest for Western Governors, and they have continued their torrid pace into 2019. Already this year, WGA and Western Governors have:

Urged Congressional leadership to consider western priorities for legislative action during the 116th Congress;

Expressed their concern about an EPA proposal to extend compliance dates for wood heating devices;

Proposed a greater level of state-federal collaboration with respect to hydropower licensing; and

Vigorously defended state authority to issue water quality certifications under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act

The foregoing represents just a sampling of the Governors’ work since the start of the year. While these efforts address a broad range of topics, they are all guided by a bedrock principle: the defense and promotion of state authority, particularly vis-à-vis the expansive and growing reach of the federal government.

Western Governors understand that, in the absence of a Constitutional delegation of authority to the federal government, state authority should be presumed sovereign. Furthermore, the Governors have proclaimed that every executive department and agency should have a clear and accountable process to provide states with early, meaningful and substantive input in the development of regulatory policies, particularly to the extent such policies affect state authority and implicate state equities.

You can learn more about the Governors’ commitment to state authority on a Resource Page we recently launched on the WGA website. Among other things on that page, you will find a Policy Resolution that guides our work (Building a Stronger State-Federal Relationship), learn why states should be treated as sovereigns (and not stakeholders), and see our recommendations for statutory reform.

Western Governors engage directly and frequently with top-ranking federal officials to promote their collective policy priorities. At our recent Winter Meeting, for example, the Governors discussed a variety of issues with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration. Moreover, WGA leadership executed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Secretary of Agriculture regarding shared stewardship of federal forest resources.

Western Governors will host a breakfast at the end of this month for members of the cabinet in Washington, D.C. They can be expected to bring up a number of issues important to the West. And you can rest assured that they will promote the idea of state authority, whatever the topic.

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 Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

–Western Governor’s Association


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