Governor Brian Sandoval is attending the National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting in Washington, D.C. Governors from across the country meet to discuss issues critical to their individual states, share experiences and successes in their states. It also provides an opportunity to meet with federal officials to express their views and concerns regarding actions being taken by the federal government.
"Over the weekend, I have had the opportunity to meet with federal cabinet officials to discuss issues ranging from transportation to drought," said Governor Sandoval. "It is critical to Nevada that leaders in the federal government understand how their actions affect our state and to hear our concerns. It is equally as important to take this opportunity to build partnerships with not only federal officials, but other governors as well."
The Weekend Wrap-Up
Friday, the Governor attended a reception at the Brazilian Embassy, where he spoke with Brazil's Ambassador to the United States Mauro Vieira about his intent to lead a trade mission of Nevada businesses to Brazil in the near future. Stronger ties between the State of Nevada and Brazil have the potential to enhance not only trade, but tourism as well.
On Saturday, Governor Sandoval attended a meeting of the NGA's Economic Development and Commerce Committee on the reauthorization of the federal surface transportation program. Governor Sandoval expressed concern about the transportation program's preservation-centric focus, noting that while that approach might make sense for many eastern states, western states like Nevada need to be able to balance preservation with capacity building.
The strongest example of the need for new capacity is Interstate 11, which would provide connectivity between Phoenix and Las Vegas. The new interstate would increase economic development opportunities in both states.
The Governor also held a one-on-one meeting with Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy. The Governor stressed the need to ensure that any forthcoming rules on carbon regulation must not negatively impact Nevada and must recognize the progress that Nevada has made in renewable energy development. The Governor also discussed a protracted disagreement on mining regulation between the EPA, the Nevada Division of Environmental Protection, and the mining industry and stressed the need for a resolution that recognizes the primacy of Nevada's mature mining regulatory structure and provides certainty to the industry. He also expressed concern with a possible EPA rulemaking on mine bonding, specifically asking that any final rule recognize the authority of Nevada to continue its existing developed and tested bond program without federal duplication.
Sunday, in his role as Vice Chair of the Western Governors Association, Governor Brian Sandoval co-chaired a meeting of 11 Governors with Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz, Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell, and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. In this meeting, Governor Sandoval discussed the impacts of drought both in Nevada and regionally, the state's work to avoid the listing of the sage grouse, and the importance of renewable energy development.
Also on Sunday, Governor Sandoval, in his capacity as Vice Chairman of the NGA's Education and Workforce Committee, co-led a session entitled "Supporting Governors' Innovation in Early Childhood Education". Secretary of Education Arne Duncan spoke about the Administration's vision for early education and governors also heard from representatives of two states who described the successes and challenges of establishing pre-K programs. Governor Sandoval asked the Secretary how states like Nevada can better prepare and apply for competitive education grants such as the recently announced round of Race to the Top funding. The Governor emphasized the lead role of governors in education and the need for the federal government to support, not supplant the state role.
The Governor also announced that the committee would focus on three deliverables during the next four months: promoting and restoring governors' abilities to create jobs through the Workforce Investment Act, working with the Department of Education to help disadvantaged students attend college, and working with Congress to pass legislation promoting career and technical education (CTE).
Later on Sunday, during a roundtable discussion with Maria Bartiromo of the Fox Business Channel, Governor Sandoval emphasized the importance of Nevada's growing renewable energy sector to the state's economy and the challenges that Nevada faces from the over-regulation of the state's significant federal lands.
Finally, at the NGA's Health and Human Services Committee meeting, Governor Sandoval and Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin were selected to co-lead a new policy academy aimed at reducing prescription drug abuse. The academy will help competitively-selected states develop and implement comprehensive and coordinated strategies that take advantage of all available tools and resources to address this growing problem.