Monday, February 16, 2009

Gov. Lingle goes to Washington

Gov. Linda Lingle heads to Washing-
ton D.C., Thursday to join coll-
eagues from other states, three common-
wealths and two territories for the winter meeting of the National Governors Association.

Jobs, the economy, infrastructure and health care top the list of concerns the NGA will tackle during the three-day meeting. Lingle doesn’t plan to return to Hawaii until Friday, Feb. 27. Lt. Gov. James “Duke” Aiona will join Lingle for some of the sessions.

The itinerary includes a black-tie evening with President Obama and the First Lady on Sunday at the White House. Governors return to the White House on Monday, Feb. 23. They’ll hold meetings with Obama and members of his Cabinet on issues important to their states.

States currently are jostling for their share of the $787 billion stimulus plan that Obama is expected to sign into law this week. Hawaii may get almost $1 billion of that.

Under the plan, the states will divide $27 billion – far less than the $64 billion they said they needed – for “shovel ready” infrastructure projects. The law requires the projects to pass federal government’s scrutiny and be judged ready to go within 120 days in order to infuse jobs into the economy quickly.

Founded in 1908, the NGA is the collective voice of the nation's governors and represents governors on Capitol Hill and before the Administration.

Lingle also is scheduled to meet with Sen. Daniel Inouye and Sen. Daniel Akaka, both Democrats from Hawaii.

Lingle’s enthusiasm for energy self-sufficiency will be shared with her colleagues Sunday during a panel discussion with experts on energy infrastructure policy, including siting, regulation, financing and deployment and development of "smart grid" technologies and new pipeline systems. Panelists include Pat Wood III, principal, Wood3 Resources and Jesse Berst, managing director, GlobalSmartEnergy.com.

"Our nation's competitiveness and national security are inextricably linked to energy," Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, chairwoman of the Natural Resources Committee, said in a statement. "Establishing an effective, sustainable energy infrastructure system will ensure that we can meet America's future energy needs."

The focus on infrastructure will be highlighted Saturday with the Miller Center Discussion and Debate about Infrastructure. Modeled on Oxford-style debates, the Miller Center National Debate series looks at issues surrounding America's role in the world, its responsibility to its citizens and the way its policies fulfill its founding principles.

The debate will focus on balancing a federal infrastructure policy with energy, environmental and economic priorities. Robert MacNeil, former co-anchor of the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, will moderate. Panelists include NGA Chairman Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell; California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger; Douglas Foy, president of DIF Enterprises; and JayEtta Hecker, senior fellow of the Bipartisan Policy Center.

The last half hour of debate will be question and answer session among all governors. The debate will be webcast live.