An Overhaul for the National Governors’ Association

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?

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