Ceiling of Montana Capitol Building's Old Supreme Court Chamber
Photo courtesy: Eric Holdeman
PNWER's annual capital visits kicked off this January 13-17 with PNWER officers traveling to Helena, Montana and Boise, Idaho before arriving in Salem, Oregon; Olympia, Washington; and Juneau, Alaska, this week. Every year, PNWER visits our jurisdictions' capitals to bring the issues of our region to the attention of our public sector leaders and forge and strengthen relationships across borders.
Left to right: Matt Morrison, PNWER CEO; Sen. Mike Cuffe, PNWER VP; Gov. Steve Bullock; MLA Larry Doke, PNWER President; Sen. Keith Regier; Lt. Gov. Mike Cooney
On January 13-15, PNWER officers traveled to Helena, Montana, for two days of meetings at the Montana State Capitol. The delegation included PNWER President Larry Doke, MLA Saskatchewan; PNWER Vice President Sen. Mike Cuffe, Montana; PNWER CEO Matt Morrison; Eric Holdeman, Director of PNWER's Center for Regional Disaster Resilience; and PNWER Program Coordinator Nate Weigel.

PNWER leadership met with Governor Steve Bullock to discuss the impact of Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs to local businesses in both the US and Canada, the NAFTA 2.0 (U.S., Mexico, and Canada Trade Agreement or USMCA), invasive species funding in Montana, Canadian and US market access for agriculture, and opportunities for collaboration among the entire region. Key meetings also took place with legislators in both the House Majority and Minority leadership as well as with Senate leadership.
"Sub-national relationships are more important than ever." - Gov. Steve Bullock
Left to right: CRDR Director Eric Holdeman; CEO Matt Morrison, President Larry Doke, MLA; Gov. Steve Bullock; and Vice President Sen. Mike Cuffe.
Invasive Species: In a rare joint Senate-House Natural Resources committee, chaired by Sen. Jeffrey Welborn and Rep. Kerry White, PNWER presented to both Senate and House legislators on invasive mussels and the status of federal funding that PNWER has worked to secure for Montana. Thus far, PNWER has been successful in working with partners and the regional Congressional delegation to obtain $21m in federal funds for the four NW state to prevent the spread of invasive mussels. Montana has successfully deterred these mussels from being established in Montana waters, protecting the entire Columbia Basin from an invasion of mussels.

Energy: President Larry Doke, MLA, and Matt Morrison, CEO, presented before the Senate Energy and Telecommunications Committee, chaired by Sen. Duane Ankney, on the Legislative Energy Horizon Institute (LEHI) , Columbia River Treaty , and PNWER's Roadmap to Resilience project on energy efficiency infrastructure for the future. Sen. Doug Kary gave a robust view of the benefits of the inaugural 2018 Capitols Competing for Capital (C3) program , which centered on the future of 5G technology and broadband infrastructure. PNWER's C3 program is modeled after the successful LEHI program and focuses on telecommunication and information technology policy challenges.

Disaster Resilience: In addition to meetings with legislators, PNWER's Center for Regional Disaster Resilience met extensively with Montana Emergency Services Administrator, Delila Bruno, on collaborating to use drones more effectively during disasters. Click here for info on the CRDR's drone projects.

Agriculture: Montana Director of Agriculture, Ben Thomas, met with the delegation for a substantial discussion on market access for crops, wheat grading, and possible collaboration on research between the Canadian and Montana agriculture research facilities.
PNWER President Larry Doke presents on invasive species to joint
House-Senate Natural Resources committee.
Left to right: Dr. Gloria Totoricaguena, PNWER Idaho Council; Matt Morrison; President Larry Doke, MLA; and Brandon Hardenbrook, COO, PNWER.
Following Helena, PNWER leadership wrapped up two days of successful meetings in Boise, Idaho, on January 16-17. The trip consisted of presentations in front of five committees beginning with the House Agriculture Committee chaired by Rep. Judy Boyle.

Trade: PNWER President Larry Doke, MLA, and Brandon Hardenbrook, PNWER COO, presented on the impact of the new USMCA and steel/aluminum tariffs on regional trade. PNWER has called for the ratification of USMCA and the removal of steel and aluminum and retaliatory tariffs.  Read PNWER's letter to President Trump here.

Invasive Species: Other topics addressed to the committee were the economic impact of quagga/zebra mussels and recent efforts to increase federal funding for regional inspection stations. PNWER has worked with its partners to secure $21 million in federal funding for the 4 states in the past four years. Read Idaho Press coverage here .

Columbia River Treaty: Finally, an update on the Columbia River Treaty negotiations was provided and what PNWER has done to raise awareness of the treaty benefits on both sides of the border. More information on PNWER's Columbia River Treaty Symposium.
President Larry Doke, MLA, speaking to Idaho legislators about PNWER's priorities.
Presentations also took place in the House Environment, Energy Technology committee chaired by Rep. John Vander Woude; the Senate Resources and Environment committee chaired by Sen. Lee Heider; Senate Agriculture Affairs, chaired by Sen. Jim Guthrie; and the Senate Transportation Committee chaired by Sen. Bert Brackett.

Energy: Matt Morrison, PNWER CEO, covered several topics including PNWER's Legislative Energy Horizon Institute which is a 60 hour course for legislators on energy policy. In its 10th year, LEHI has over 260 graduates from across the US and Canada. More information on the LEHI program here.

Transportation: Matt Morrison also discussed the future of transportation in the region with autonomous, connected, electric, and shared transportation options, and the possible policy implications. Harmonizing trucking size and weight was also emphasized and is a strong priority for discussion for all states and provinces in the region. 
Above: Idaho Senator Michelle Stennett
PNWER hosted a private dinner for members of the PNWER Idaho Council and PNWER delegate council to discuss priority issues for Idaho to take to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, for the 2019 Annual Summit . Delegates shared their own personal perspectives about the value of PNWER and the importance of our work to the state and beyond. PNWER Idaho delegates include Sen. Chuck Winder, Sen. Michelle Stennett, Rep. Rick Youngblood, and Rep. Elaine Smith.  
2018 Annual Report Released
This year has been an important one in the Canada-U.S. relationship. Here at PNWER, we have been encouraged by the strong friendships that have been formed by all of our members across borders. The strength of these regional working relationships are as important as ever. 

Mark Your Calendars!
PNWER's 2019 Annual Summit will be held this year in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan from July 21-25. For more information on our 2019 Annual Summit, visit our website.
PNWER's 2019 Economic Leadership Forum will be held this year in Seattle, Washington from November 20-23. Preliminary information can be found on our website here.
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