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!

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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: 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

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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 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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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: Wyoming

Boots and bolo ties were in full swing at the Wyoming State Capitol, as CSG West kicked off its 2023 state visits in the Cowboy State. The visit provided staff an opportunity to engage with legislators and legislative leaders about CSG West events, programs, and training opportunities this year, including the Colorado River Forum to be hosted in Wyoming.

CSG West staff enjoyed meetings with House Speaker Albert Sommers and Senate President Ogden Driskill, who will appoint members to CSG West committees for the 2023-24 biennium, and who shared insights into current policy priorities in the state. 

The visit was also an opportunity to connect with Wyoming policymakers engaged in CSG West leadership or co-chair roles, including Representative Mike Yin, CSG West Vice-Chair and Wyoming’s House Minority Floor Leader; Representative Landon Brown, Westrends Co-Chair; Senator Eric Barlow, Energy & Environment Committee Co-Chair; and Senator Larry Hicks, Colorado River Forum Co-Chair. 

The visit concluded on a high note with CSG West hosting its annual lunch for Western Legislative Academy (WLA) alumni and interested applicants. The strong turnout was evidence of the enduring relationships built through WLA and its continued reputation as the region’s premier legislative training program.

CSG West was grateful for the floor introductions by Senator Barlow and Representative Yin, respectively, and for the warm welcome to the Wyoming Legislature. We look forward to Wyoming’s leadership and engagement in 2023!

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On the Road with CSG West: Wyoming

Boots and bolo ties were in full swing at the Wyoming State Capitol, as CSG West kicked off its 2023 state visits in the Cowboy State. The visit provided staff an opportunity to engage with legislators and legislative leaders about CSG West events, programs, and training opportunities this year, including the Colorado River Forum to be hosted in Wyoming.

CSG West staff enjoyed meetings with House Speaker Albert Sommers and Senate President Ogden Driskill, who will appoint members to CSG West committees for the 2023-24 biennium, and who shared insights into current policy priorities in the state. 

The visit was also an opportunity to connect with Wyoming policymakers engaged in CSG West leadership or co-chair roles, including Representative Mike Yin, CSG West Vice-Chair and Wyoming’s House Minority Floor Leader; Representative Landon Brown, Westrends Co-Chair; Senator Eric Barlow, Energy & Environment Committee Co-Chair; and Senator Larry Hicks, Colorado River Forum Co-Chair. 

The visit concluded on a high note with CSG West hosting its annual lunch for Western Legislative Academy (WLA) alumni and interested applicants. The strong turnout was evidence of the enduring relationships built through WLA and its continued reputation as the region’s premier legislative training program.

CSG West was grateful for the floor introductions by Senator Barlow and Representative Yin, respectively, and for the warm welcome to the Wyoming Legislature. We look forward to Wyoming’s leadership and engagement in 2023!

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In Memoriam: Bobby Silverstein (1949-2022)

The CSG West family is mourning the recent loss of Bobby Silverstein, a partner at Powers Pyles Sutter & Verville PC, Attorneys at Law. Bobby served on Capitol Hill as staff director and chief counsel for the Senate Subcommittee on Disability Policy of the Senate Committee on Labor and Human Resources, which was chaired by former Iowa Senator Tom Harkin. As a tireless advocate for individuals with disabilities in the workforce, he gained notoriety as the “behind-the-scenes architect” of the landmark Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).Bobby had more than four decades of public policy experience in the disability arena, crafting nearly two dozen bills which eventually became law.

Beloved by those he worked with, State Exchange on Employment and Disability (SEED) colleague, Katia Albanese, described Bobby as “more than a colleague to most of us…he was a mentor, a teacher, a brother.” Just last month, he participated in the SEED Partner Retreat along with CSG West staff. Bobby also participated in CSG West’s 2020 Virtual Annual Meeting during a session titled “Celebrating the ADA: A Look Forward to the Next 30 Years.”

CSG West expresses its sincere condolences to the family and colleagues of Bobby Silverstein, along with others who had the opportunity to know and collaborate with him over the years. His enthusiasm, insight, and dedication will be deeply missed, and his legacy will continue to impact people with disabilities for decades to come.

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