On the Road with CSG West: Montana

As CSG West prepares to convene two of its annual programs in Montana this year, last month’s state visit to the Montana State Capitol was an important opportunity to connect with members and legislative leaders.

CSG West staff Edgar Ruiz and Jonathan Lennartz enjoyed meeting with Senator Mike Cuffe, who shared a wealth of knowledge about the Columbia River Treaty and water policy issues along the U.S.-Canada border. Senator Cuffe’s insights will be valuable in shaping the programming for the Legislative Council on River Governance (LCRG), which will convene June 26-29 in Whitefish, Montana.

Joe Kolman, Director of Research and Environmental Policy in the Legislative Services Division, is this year’s co-chair of the Legislative Service Agency & Research Directors committee (LSA/RD), which is also meeting in Whitefish this fall. CSG West staff had productive meetings with Mr. Kolman and Jerry Howe, Legislative Services Executive Director, and appreciates their hospitality and support during the visit.

House and Senate leaders play an important role in appointing members to CSG West policy committees. Staff met with Senate President and Western Legislative Academy (WLA) alumnus Jason Ellsworth, Senate President Pro Tem Kenneth Bogner, and House Speaker Matt Regier to discuss appointments for the biennium, eligible candidates for the 2023 WLA program, and emerging policy trends in the legislative session.

One of the many highlights of the state visit included conversations with legislators about their policy priorities, as this feedback helps determine the most relevant issues to address during upcoming CSG West programs and events. As was fitting for Women’s History Month, three women from the Montana House offered particularly notable insights from their legislative work during the current legislative session.

Representative Marta Bertoglio is a former United States Air Force officer taking special interest in veteran affairs. Representative Bertoglio shared information about her legislation, House Bill 68, signed by Governor Greg Gianforte earlier this session, which aims to help relocated military families  establish residency more readily for their child’s school enrollment.

House Minority Caucus Chair and Western Legislative Academy (WLA) alumnus, Representative Alice Buckley, described efforts to expand eligibility to a child care scholarship program for low-income families. Representative Denise Baum, a 19-year law enforcement veteran serving the last 14 years as a detective in Billings, discussed the impact of Montana’s Crisis Intervention Teams when responding to individuals who are experiencing a behavioral health crisis.

The WLA reception continues to be a highlight of the 2023 state visits. CSG West staff were delighted to host the many Montana legislators who have participated in the legislative training program, as well as interested applicants. Alumni shared their experience and the program’s continued influence in their legislative work.

CSG West offers special thanks for the floor introductions by Senate Pro Tem Kenneth Bogner and Representative Michele Binkley, respectively. We look forward to returning to Montana for the LCRG program in June!

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On the Road with CSG West: Colorado

CSG West would like to give a big shout-out to Colorado for the warm welcome received by our team this month as we visited with leaders, members, and staff at the Capitol. A special thank you to Representative Cathy Kipp and Senator Cleave Simpson for providing floor introductions and hosting us as we connected with new and tenured members to spread the word about how CSG supports them.

Shared training opportunities for Colorado’s newer members

With 31 new legislators in Colorado this year, we were excited to share the opportunity to apply for the 2023 Western Legislative Academy (WLA), which will take place in Colorado Springs, December 13-15. The WLA is the West’s premier leadership training open to legislators within their first four years of service and has been hosted in the Centennial State since its inception in 2000.

Promoted water stewardship programming

As with all our Western states, water is a major priority in Colorado, and we made sure to inform members of CSG West’s Colorado River Forum, which will be held in Wyoming this coming Fall. This collaborative event is of particular importance as policymakers consider the following:

Water governance in the west: Unpacking compacts, agreements, and water rights, and exploring the history and impact of state to state, cross border, and tribal relations along the river basin.

Diverse perspectives, priorities, and partnerships on water: Gathering federal, state, tribal, and non-governmental organizations  working in the watersheds across agricultural, energy, public lands, and conservation and restoration sectors.

Innovations in water, agriculture, & energy policies: Spotlighting energy and environmental challenges and working to strengthen and support energy security and resilience, food safety and security, and environmental health across the west.

Met with leaders and discussed engagement with CSG West and its policy committees

CSG West staff connected with legislative leadership on appointments to our eight policy committees, and how that work culminates and is leveraged throughout the West, specifically at the Annual Meeting.

Connected with friends at the Western Governors Association

CSG West believes in the incredible value of strong partnerships, and the team was thrilled to meet with our partners at the Western Governors’ Association while in Denver to discuss areas of potential collaboration. Thanks to Executive Director Jack Waldorf, Policy Director Troy Timmons, and their staff for the Mile-High hospitality!

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On the Road with CSG West: Idaho

CSG West staff were on the ground in Boise, Idaho, for the annual visit with members January 30-February 2.  Edgar Ruiz, CSG west director; Will Keyse, legislative training manager; and Jackie Tinetti, lead for Idaho state, connected with Senate and House leadership, as well as members at large.  The focus of the state visit was to inform members and staff about CSG regional and national resources, services, and programs that support their legislative service, including the Western Legislative Academy (WLA), the Henry Toll Fellowship Program, the 2023 Annual Meeting, and opportunities to serve on CSG West Policy Committees.

The visit included a hosted lunch for alumni and eligible members of this year’s WLA, as well as a morning with coffee and donuts aimed at connecting with legislators and legislative staff.

Throughout our visit, many positive comments and remembrances from last year’s 75th CSG West Annual Meeting that convened in Boise were shared and reconnecting with all of the people who worked so hard to make that meeting a success. The CSG West staff were grateful and appreciative of the warm welcome and hospitality extended  during our visit to the Gem State.

Idaho Representative Ned Burns, House Minority Caucus Chair, with Jackie Tinetti, CSG West Policy Analyst

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On the Road with CSG West: Alaska

Left to right: Jackie Tinetti, Speaker of the House Cathy Tilton, and Edgar Ruiz

CSG West staff – Edgar Ruiz and Jackie Tinetti – were in Juneau February 14-15, where they engaged with policymakers about CSG West programs, events, and services. They received a warm welcome from members and legislative staff.

The capitol was busy with committee hearings and floor sessions, and in between CSG West staff met with Senate and House leadership, many of the newest members, the staff of the Legislative Services Agency, and a brief hallway chat with Governor Mike Dunleavy.  A key objective of the visit was learning about members’ legislative priorities, their desire to work effectively individually and as a body on behalf of Alaskans, and how CSG West can provide support.

Left to right: Edgar Ruiz, Senate President Gary Stevens, and Jackie Tinetti

The highlight of our time at the capitol was the WLA Alumni lunch, where colleagues across chambers and parties come together to reminisce about their WLA experience and encourage those eligible to apply.  We value the strong support of WLA Alumni in promoting this unique and powerful professional development opportunity to their new colleagues.

A focus of discussion was the Western Legislative Academy, and the unique professional development opportunities offered by CSG West through Westrain and the Henry Toll Fellowship program.

Another popular topic was the 76th CSG West Annual Meeting that will convene in Universal City, California August 1-4. We thank our Liaisons – Senate President Gary Stevens, House Speaker Cathy Tilton, and Representative Craig Johnson for their time and hospitality.  We appreciate the floor introductions by Senator Cathy Giessel and Representative Craig Johnson, respectively.  

Thanks to all for your engagement and support – we wish you much success in the legislative session.

Left to right: Jackie Tinetti, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, and Edgar Ruiz

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On the Road with CSG West: Alaska

Left to right: Jackie Tinetti, Speaker of the House Cathy Tilton, and Edgar Ruiz

CSG West staff – Edgar Ruiz and Jackie Tinetti – were in Juneau February 14-15, where they engaged with policymakers about CSG West programs, events, and services. They received a warm welcome from members and legislative staff.

The capitol was busy with committee hearings and floor sessions, and in between CSG West staff met with Senate and House leadership, many of the newest members, the staff of the Legislative Services Agency, and a brief hallway chat with Governor Mike Dunleavy.  A key objective of the visit was learning about members’ legislative priorities, their desire to work effectively individually and as a body on behalf of Alaskans, and how CSG West can provide support.

Left to right: Edgar Ruiz, Senate President Gary Stevens, and Jackie Tinetti

The highlight of our time at the capitol was the WLA Alumni lunch, where colleagues across chambers and parties come together to reminisce about their WLA experience and encourage those eligible to apply.  We value the strong support of WLA Alumni in promoting this unique and powerful professional development opportunity to their new colleagues.

A focus of discussion was the Western Legislative Academy, and the unique professional development opportunities offered by CSG West through Westrain and the Henry Toll Fellowship program.

Another popular topic was the 76th CSG West Annual Meeting that will convene in Universal City, California August 1-4. We thank our Liaisons – Senate President Gary Stevens, House Speaker Cathy Tilton, and Representative Craig Johnson for their time and hospitality.  We appreciate the floor introductions by Senator Cathy Giessel and Representative Craig Johnson, respectively.  

Thanks to all for your engagement and support – we wish you much success in the legislative session.

Left to right: Jackie Tinetti, Alaska Governor Mike Dunleavy, and Edgar Ruiz

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On the Road with CSG West: Colorado

CSG West would like to give a big shout-out to Colorado for the warm welcome received by our team this month as we visited with leaders, members, and staff at the Capitol. A special thank you to Representative Cathy Kipp and Senator Cleave Simpson for providing floor introductions and hosting us as we connected with new and tenured members to spread the word about how CSG supports them.

Shared training opportunities for Colorado’s newer members

With 31 new legislators in Colorado this year, we were excited to share the opportunity to apply for the 2023 Western Legislative Academy (WLA), which will take place in Colorado Springs, December 13-15. The WLA is the West’s premier leadership training open to legislators within their first four years of service and has been hosted in the Centennial State since its inception in 2000.

Promoted water stewardship programming

As with all our Western states, water is a major priority in Colorado, and we made sure to inform members of CSG West’s Colorado River Forum, which will be held in Wyoming this coming Fall. This collaborative event is of particular importance as policymakers consider the following:

  • Water governance in the west: Unpacking compacts, agreements, and water rights, and exploring the history and impact of state to state, cross border, and tribal relations along the river basin.
  • Diverse perspectives, priorities, and partnerships on water: Gathering federal, state, tribal, and non-governmental organizations  working in the watersheds across agricultural, energy, public lands, and conservation and restoration sectors.
  • Innovations in water, agriculture, & energy policies: Spotlighting energy and environmental challenges and working to strengthen and support energy security and resilience, food safety and security, and environmental health across the west.

Met with leaders and discussed engagement with CSG West and its policy committees

CSG West staff connected with legislative leadership on appointments to our eight policy committees, and how that work culminates and is leveraged throughout the West, specifically at the Annual Meeting.

Connected with friends at the Western Governors Association

CSG West believes in the incredible value of strong partnerships, and the team was thrilled to meet with our partners at the Western Governors’ Association while in Denver to discuss areas of potential collaboration. Thanks to Executive Director Jack Waldorf, Policy Director Troy Timmons, and their staff for the Mile-High hospitality!

The post On the Road with CSG West: Colorado appeared first on CSG West.

On the Road with CSG West: Idaho

CSG West staff were on the ground in Boise, Idaho, for the annual visit with members January 30-February 2.  Edgar Ruiz, CSG west director; Will Keyse, legislative training manager; and Jackie Tinetti, lead for Idaho state, connected with Senate and House leadership, as well as members at large.  The focus of the state visit was to inform members and staff about CSG regional and national resources, services, and programs that support their legislative service, including the Western Legislative Academy (WLA), the Henry Toll Fellowship Program, the 2023 Annual Meeting, and opportunities to serve on CSG West Policy Committees.

The visit included a hosted lunch for alumni and eligible members of this year’s WLA, as well as a morning with coffee and donuts aimed at connecting with legislators and legislative staff.

Throughout our visit, many positive comments and remembrances from last year’s 75th CSG West Annual Meeting that convened in Boise were shared and reconnecting with all of the people who worked so hard to make that meeting a success. The CSG West staff were grateful and appreciative of the warm welcome and hospitality extended  during our visit to the Gem State.

Idaho Representative Ned Burns, House Minority Caucus Chair, with Jackie Tinetti, CSG West Policy Analyst

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On the Road with CSG West: Utah

CSG West conducted its annual visit to the Utah State Capitol last week. On the ground in Salt Lake City, CSG West staff Edgar Ruiz and Will Keyse connected with members and legislative leaders of each of the four caucuses to provide updates on services and programming for the year. They also met with staff from the Governor’s Office and the Office of Legislative Research and General Counsel.

CSG staff were grateful to meet with Senate President and past CSG West chair J. Stuart Adams and House Speaker Brad Wilson to discuss policy committees and appointments for the biennium and CSG events in 2023. Staff also connected with Lieutenant Governor Deidre Henderson, who is a past co-chair of the CSG West Oversight Working Group during her tenure in the Utah Senate.

A highlight of the visit was a luncheon hosted by CSG West and Representative Andrew Stoddard, 2022 Western Legislative Academy (WLA) Class President, for WLA alumni as well as members eligible for this year’s program. Staff also had the opportunity to connect with committee co-chairs Senator Todd Weiler (Westrends Board) and Representative Steve Eliason (Health Committee), as well as Senator Ann Millner (past co-chair of the Education Committee).

The CSG West team appreciated the hospitality and continued engagement from our members in the Beehive state!

Michael Mower, Senior Advisor of Community and Intergovernmental Outreach to Gov. Spencer Cox, Will Keyse and Edgar Ruiz at the office of the Governor

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On the Road with CSG West: New Mexico

Two weeks ago, staff from CSG West conducted their annual state visit to the Land of Enchantment. Edgar Ruiz and Martha Castañeda connected with legislators February 7th-9th.

New Mexico’s first session of the 56th Legislature kicked off January 17 and will run for 60 days, until March 18th. As of the halfway point of the session, lawmakers had filed over 1000 bills and other measures. In even years, such as next year’s, the session is limited to 30 days and focused on the state’s budget.

New Mexico is in the enviable position of having a significant budget surplus. Just in the first four months of 2022, more than $1.7 billion were added as a result of oil and gas revenues from the Permian basin. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, New Mexico’s Permian basin produces the most oil than any other region nationwide and is second to the Appalachia region in gas production. Recognizing that this windfall is one time money make the budget process tricky for policymakers.

Many of the same issues other states are weighing are on this year’s legislative agenda in Santa Fe. Among them are daylight savings time, gun safety, changes to pretrial detentions, reducing gross receipts tax, reproductive rights, and voting access just to name a few. A bill adding an official state aroma to the list of more than 20 state symbols was getting a lot of attention. Senate Bill 188, sponsored by CSG West legislative liaison Senator Bill Soules of Las Cruces, and has garnered nationwide attention. In this NPR Weekend Edition interview with Scott Simon, Senator Soules explains the idea originated in a fifth grade classroom which invited him in November to learn what it’s like being a state senator. This is civics lesson the kids won’t soon forget, as a handful of the kids from that class at Monte Vista Elementary in Las Cruces spoke in support of the bill in front of the Senate Indian, Rural and Cultural Affairs Committee.

CSG West staff met with many members, both new and others that have been engaged with CSG West over time. The new Speaker of the House, Representative Javier Martinez, who is a 2017 graduate of the CSG Henry Toll Fellowship, was generous with his time in meeting with staff. Speaker Martinez has represented Albuquerque’s House District 11 since 2015 and previously served as Majority Floor Leader.

The Henry Tolls Fellowship Program is named after former Colorado Senator Henry Wolcott Toll, who founded CSG in 1933. The program is one of the nation’s premier leadership development programs for state government officials. Each year, the program gathers 48 of the nation’s top officials from all three branches of state government in Lexington, Kentucky for an intensive five-day “leadership boot camp.”

Staff met with House Minority Floor Leader Ryan Lane who is a 2022 graduate of the Western Legislative Academy (WLA). The WLA was established in 2000 at a time when many Western states had term limits in place. It is open to legislators in their first four years of cumulative service on a competitive basis as there are four slots available per state to fill. The goals of the program are to help legislators become more effective leaders and, in turn, build strong legislative institutions. It’s held in annually in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and includes experts in state legislatures, communications, time and focus management, governance, ethics, and negotiations.

Staff also met with key legislative staff such as the director of the Legislative Council Service (LCS), Raúl Burciaga, who previously served as Chair of CSG West’s Legislative Service Agency and Research Directors Committee.


From Left to Right: Senator Harold Pope, Edgar Ruiz,
Martha Castañeda and Senator Bill Soules

The post <strong>On the Road with CSG West: New Mexico</strong> appeared first on CSG West.

On the Road with CSG West: New Mexico

Two weeks ago, staff from CSG West conducted their annual state visit to the Land of Enchantment. Edgar Ruiz and Martha Castañeda connected with legislators February 7th-9th.

New Mexico’s first session of the 56th Legislature kicked off January 17 and will run for 60 days, until March 18th. As of the halfway point of the session, lawmakers had filed over 1000 bills and other measures. In even years, such as next year’s, the session is limited to 30 days and focused on the state’s budget.

New Mexico is in the enviable position of having a significant budget surplus. Just in the first four months of 2022, more than $1.7 billion were added as a result of oil and gas revenues from the Permian basin. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, New Mexico’s Permian basin produces the most oil than any other region nationwide and is second to the Appalachia region in gas production. Recognizing that this windfall is one time money makes the budget process tricky for policymakers.

Many of the same issues other states are weighing are on this year’s legislative agenda in Santa Fe. Among them are daylight savings time, gun safety, changes to pretrial detentions, reducing gross receipts tax, reproductive rights, and voting access just to name a few. A bill adding an official state aroma to the list of more than 20 state symbols was getting a lot of attention. Senate Bill 188, sponsored by CSG West legislative liaison Senator Bill Soules of Las Cruces, has garnered nationwide attention. In this NPR Weekend Edition interview with Scott Simon, Senator Soules explains the idea originated in a fifth grade classroom which invited him in November to learn what it’s like being a state senator. This is civics lesson the kids won’t soon forget, as a handful of the kids from that class at Monte Vista Elementary in Las Cruces spoke in support of the bill in front of the Senate Indian, Rural and Cultural Affairs Committee.

CSG West staff met with many members, both new and others that have been engaged with CSG West over time. The new Speaker of the House, Representative Javier Martinez, who is a 2017 graduate of the CSG Henry Toll Fellowship, was generous with his time in meeting with staff. Speaker Martinez has represented Albuquerque’s House District 11 since 2015 and previously served as Majority Floor Leader.

The Henry Tolls Fellowship Program is named after former Colorado Senator Henry Wolcott Toll, who founded CSG in 1933. The program is one of the nation’s premier leadership development programs for state government officials. Each year, the program gathers 48 of the nation’s top officials from all three branches of state government in Lexington, Kentucky for an intensive five-day “leadership boot camp.”

Staff met with House Minority Floor Leader Ryan Lane who is a 2022 graduate of the Western Legislative Academy (WLA). The WLA was established in 2000 at a time when many Western states had term limits in place. It is open to legislators in their first four years of cumulative service on a competitive basis as there are four slots available per state to fill. The goals of the program are to help legislators become more effective leaders and, in turn, build strong legislative institutions. It’s held in annually in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and includes experts in state legislatures, communications, time and focus management, governance, ethics, and negotiations.

Staff also met with key legislative staff such as the director of the Legislative Council Service (LCS), Raúl Burciaga, who previously served as Chair of CSG West’s Legislative Service Agency and Research Directors Committee. Raúl is also a graduate of the Toll Fellows Class of 2012.


From Left to Right: Senator Harold Pope, Edgar Ruiz,
Martha Castañeda and Senator Bill Soules

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