Posts Tagged ‘NGA’

NGA Chair Adopts Focus on Disabled Workers

July 18, 2012

By Josh Fisher, Manager

Governor Markell speaking at NGA Annual Meeting in Williamsburg, VirginiaAs the National Governors Association (NGA) Annual Meeting drew to a close in Williamsburg, Virginia, it was clear that not only will economic development continue to be a priority for the association, but so will job creation under the Chair’s 2012-2013 Initiative, which is focused specifically on employing America’s disabled.

At the closing session of the NGA Annual Meeting, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman (R) handed the reins to incoming Chair for 2012-2013, Delaware Governor Jack Markell (D). Governor Heineman’s major initiative as chairman was improving state economies by focusing on small business development and fast-growing companies. Sticking with the job-creation theme of his predecessor, Governor Markell, who served as the Vice Chair of NGA for the past year, took the time at the meeting’s closing session to announce his initiative as Chair will be A Better Bottom Line: Employing People with Disabilities.

In addition to Governor Markell assuming the role of NGA Chair, Republican Governor Mary Fallin, of Oklahoma, will serve as Vice Chair. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (R) had been expected to fill the Vice Chair role but decided he did not have the time to take on another leadership position. Governor Christie will remain an active leader of the NGA as he was reelected to the NGA Executive Committee. Also elected to the NGA Executive Committee for 2012-2013 were Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe (D), Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper (D), Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (D), Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman (R), Utah Governor Gary Herbert (R) and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker (R).

Calling his initiative one that “governors all across the country can embrace” Governor Markell’s goal is to increase employment opportunities for Americans with disabilities. The centerpiece of the initiative will be identifying the employment challenges affecting those with disabilities and developing strategies and best practices to assist those seeking employment.

This issue is one that Governor Markell believes will require close cooperation between states and the private sector. The Governor stated that he wants to actively engage the business community and plans to gather and meet with business leaders throughout the next year to address this issue. Recognizing that only 20% of Americans with disabilities are employed and believing that this initiative just “makes good business sense,” the new NGA Chair plans to work with the private sector in the development of new employment strategies. This is an opportunity for the private sector to engage public officials surrounding the preferences and incentives for hiring disabled employees.

Included in the group Governor Markell wants to help are veterans living with disabilities. “The bottom line is that there are so many people with disabilities who have the time, talent and desire to make meaningful contributions to interested employers,” he said.

The initiative has its roots in a CEO summit held in June that focused on employment of people with disabilities. That summit was attended by executives from more than a dozen companies and included U.S. Senator Tom Harkin (R) of Iowa, U.S. Congressman Pete Sessions (R) of Texas and Governor Markell.

This initial summit will be followed by meetings around the country in which Governor Markell gathers feedback from business leaders and public and private stakeholders in order to develop a set of blueprints that states and businesses can use to boost employment among the disabled. Several companies are already active on this issue, but the NGA Chair’s focus on this issue will no doubt open up new opportunities for the private sector to interface with state leaders in the development of policies and incentives for hiring disabled employees.

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Josh Fisher is Manager of State Issues. His work at Stateside Associates has given him an intimate knowledge of the legislative process in all 50 states. He works with clients on a wide range of state and local government affairs issues and was most recently Manager of the Legislative Information Division at Stateside Associates.

Governors Reassert Influence in the NGA Policy Process

March 1, 2012

By Stateside Associates

At the National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting this past weekend in Washington, DC, a major focus for the governors was the revamping of the association’s policy process. In adopting a new policy process, NGA Chair Governor Dave Heineman (R-Nebraska) and Vice Chair Governor Jack Markell (D-Delaware) addressed the need to have governors more directly involved in NGA policy decisions. This idea was immediately put to the test during consideration of the NGA healthcare policy.

Traditionally, NGA policymaking has been a long, drawn-out process. Instead of focusing on the issues that states could speak with a unified voice, geographic and partisan gamesmanship and exhaustive wordsmithing at the governors’ staff level commonly hindered overall association progress. NGA staff was often in a cycle of policy revision, unable to concentrate on being the voice of the nation’s governors on Capitol Hill and before the Administration.

Under the newly enacted process, policies are only considered at the Winter Meeting.  This focuses attention on priorities for the following congressional session. (A more detailed description of the new NGA policy process, by Stateside Associates Senior Vice President Mark Anderson, can be found here). The change moves away from the inefficient or outdated policies, which made it challenging for the association to consider complex issues and tied governors’ and NGA staff’s hands when advocating for or against an issue.

This newly implemented process takes a big-picture approach—it focuses on the NGA tenets of avoiding federal preemption of state policy and preventing and eliminating unfunded federal mandates. If successful, the change will give NGA more leverage in national policy debates. In addition to revising the process, governors approved a completely new slate of policy positions. A second vote replaced the existing positions with the new ones. Together, these votes gave NGA staff a clean slate on which to lobby.

The governors’ resolve to speak with one voice and avoid inside the beltway wrangling was immediately tested during the meeting on the new NGA healthcare policy. The policy was originally considered by the Health and Human Services Committee, but failed at the governors’ staff level because of partisan disagreement (the conflict hinged on a statement regarding the implementation of the Affordable Care Act).

Under the old process, this would have either led to the governors passing a weaker statement on healthcare; keeping less effective policies in place; or even worse, having no statement at all. However, governors realized the need to make a strong, unified statement on healthcare policy, and decided to override staff and approve the policy as originally written. This is the first time in recent memory governors have shown such strength of conviction in coming to a unified policy statement.

Governors realize the need to cut the geographic and partisan gamesmanship at a staff level and focus on the issues on which they can agree. While this may make it challenging to work through the new process, all participants in NGA policy creation will learn to navigate it together. When the dust from the shake-up settles, NGA will emerge stronger and with a much clearer direction.

An Overhaul for the National Governors’ Association

July 19, 2011

By Mark D. Anderson, Esq., Senior Vice President

The National Governors’ Association (NGA) concluded its Annual Meeting July 17 in Salt Lake City, Utah. Marking a dramatic change in their process, the Governors allowed most of their existing policies to sunset and unveiled an entirely new policy process for the organization.  This complete revamping is intended to breathe life into the consensus-based policy process that had previously constrained the organization’s ability to lobby effectively.

The new process will consist of three types of policy. Executive Committee Policy will be developed before each session of Congress, and it will set forth the issues on which the Governors would like the NGA to lobby Congress.  These priority issues for the NGA will be developed in conjunction with the substantive committee leadership.

The substantive committees will then develop their own Committee Policies that will be aligned with the Executive Committee Policy. This process will occur following the development of the Executive Committee Policy until the next session of Congress. The purpose of the Committee Policies is to offer greater specificity to the broad priority issues identified in the Executive Committee Policy.

Finally, Permanent Policy will be developed to provide overarching principles on issues such as unfunded mandates and states’ rights. This Policy will be developed by the Executive Committee.

Instead of a continuous process of developing policies at the Winter and Annual meetings and either sunsetting or reauthorizing them two years later, the policy process will now be tied to the Congressional calendar.  From the Annual Meeting in July until early October, NGA staff will meet with Governors to determine their priorities for the upcoming session of Congress.  In early October, the Executive Committee and the leadership of the substantive committees will meet in Washington D.C. to develop the Executive Committee Policy. They will then be able to lobby Congress based on this Executive Committee Policy.

From October until the end of the year, the substantive committees will develop Committee Policies for adoption on an interim basis at the NGA Winter Meeting in February in Washington D.C. In January, the substantive committees will begin developing advocacy campaigns, and no additional policy will be developed.  As a result, the focus of the Annual Meeting will be on advocacy instead of policy.

The intention of the organization is clear—to become a more effective advocate for the Governors and avoid wasting time discussing policy positions on issues that the Governors cannot agree upon. What issues do you think the Governors will agree to address, and which otherwise high priority issues do you think will fall by the wayside?  

By Mark D. Anderson, Esq., Senior Vice President


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