Western Governors, from left, C.L. "Butch" Otter (Idaho), Matt Mead (Wyoming), Mary Fallin (Oklahoma), Dennis Daugaard (South Dakota) and Brian Sandoval (Nevada) after their final WGA meeting.
Lessons learned by outgoing governors during their time in office, how social determinants impact healthcare, and a conversation with Small Business Administration Administrator Linda McMahon were the highlights of the third and final day of the 2018 Winter Meeting. Additionally, four WGA policy resolutions were announced by the governors.
Eleven Western Governors took part in the three-day meeting hosted by WGA Chair and Hawaii Gov. David Ige, including: WGA Vice Chair Doug Burgum (North Dakota), C.L. "Butch" Otter (Idaho), Steve Bullock (Montana), Brian Sandoval (Nevada), Mary Fallin (Oklahoma), Kate Brown (Oregon), Dennis Daugaard (South Dakota), Gary Herbert (Utah), Matt Mead (Wyoming), and Ralph Torres (Northern Mariana Islands).
Highlights from the final day’s sessions at the Fairmont Orchid on the Island of Hawaii include:
Keynote and conversation with Administrator Linda McMahon, U.S. Small Business Administration: The Administrator discussed her ongoing work as well as policy issues of significance to the West. Highlights included:
"Just as governors know, you cannot effectively lead your state without getting out of your capitals and meeting your constituents. I believe that meeting small business owners on their turf helps me understand their needs."
"Often it’s not one regulation, but a whole group that create a chokehold on businesses. Most small business don’t have a team of people to work on regulatory compliance."
"Our goal is to create an integrated strategy to bring employers, unions and schools together to train workers with the skills they need now and in the future."
Roundtable: Social Determinants and Western Healthcare: Health care experts looked at how the places we live, work and play affect health risks and outcomes. Highlights included:
Merrill Friedman, Anthem: "Social determinants is about people, and livable communities. We need to make sure that our investments make sense to the people who live in our communities."
Christopher Jones, North Dakota Department of Human Services: "Addressing stigma – of criminal records, of mental health concerns – frees individuals to address their needs and improve health outcomes."
Keawe’aimoku Kaholokula, University of Hawai’i at Manoa: "When we start looking at communities – the jobs, living wages, shelter – we start seeing how social factors and social inequities affect health."
Governors’ Conversation: Riding into the Sunset: Outgoing Western Governors C.L. "Butch" Otter, Matt Mead, Dennis Daugaard, Brian Sandoval and Mary Fallin reflected on lessons they have learned and their hopes for the future of their states and the West. Highlights included:
C.L. "Butch" Otter: "I thought going to Congress would be the top. But it was really kind of disappointing to me. But that great disappointment in Congress is one of the great satisfactions I’ve had working with WGA – working with diverse ideas and people and coming together on a consensus we can all agree on."
Matt Mead: "I look around and see the political vitriol ... WGA is a model of how our democracy should work. It has been a great, great ride to be around all of you. The theme of this session is riding into the sunset, but I see many great sunrises ahead for Western Governors. It’s been a great eight years and a hell of a ride."
Dennis Daugaard: "These governors have become more than just my acquaintances, they have become my friends. I do appreciate the great kindness that you all have shown to (First Lady) Linda and me. I really look forward to maintaining that friendship after we leave office."
Brian Sandoval: "I think this is the best job one could have. I get to walk into the office every day and make a difference in someone’s life. That’s what I’m going to miss the most."
Mary Fallin: "You realize pretty quickly how important this job is. It really is a heavy thought when you're flying across your state and you think about how those people are depending on you. It’s a lot of responsibility."
Western Governors’ Policy and Business Session: WGA Vice Chair South Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum announced the new policy resolutions passed by the governors on Foreign Visitor Preclearance, Cybersecurity, Compensatory Mitigation and Health Care in Western States. Read more Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead also discussed the launch of the Western Governors’ Task Force on Collaborative Conservation. The state-led effort will develop regional collaborative and proactive approaches to conserve at-risk fish and wildlife species, as well as habitat. Read More
WGA Chair and Hawai'i Gov. David Ige brought the meeting to a close by thanking the Governors, invited guests and attendees for taking part and invited everyone to attend WGA's 2019 Annual Meeting, June 10-12 in Vail, Colorado,