Members of the Western Governors Association held a breakfast meeting last Sunday and discussion was centered on the challenges faced by each of the 20 states and two territories—the CNMI and Guam.
Included in the discussion were fire prevention programs, water quality, contamination of dairy products, invasive species, clean energy initiatives, economy, agriculture, nursing home crisis, and state control waterways.
California, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, and Washington state experienced separate wildfires in 2018, with the damage amounting to billions of dollars.
Gov. Ralph DLG Torres joined the other members of the WGA in the breakfast meeting with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency acting administrator Andrew Wheeler. U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta, and acting Interior secretary David Bernhardt.
On Monday, Feb. 25, Torres and the other governors of the U.S. territories met with members of U.S. Congress and White House officials for the 2019 Senior Plenary Session of the Interagency Group on Insular Areas.
Torres and Guam Gov. Lou Leon Guerrero focused on each of their need to hire H-2B workers for ongoing and planned construction projects, with the CNMI needing to rebuild hundreds of homes destroyed by Super Typhoon Yutu last October while their southern island neighbor has a demand to fill the need for its military buildup.
Torres and Leon Guerrero are trying a unified stand in the hopes that the ban imposed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to bring in citizens of the Philippines via the H-2B work visa category would be lifted.
He is also set to attend several committee hearings in both the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate in connection with the CNMI’s labor and immigration issues.
On Tuesday, Feb. 26, Torres and the other governors of the territories, at the invitation of Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), will testify before the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing.
On Feb. 27, Torres is scheduled to testify before the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee at the invitation of Delegate Gregorio Kilili C. Sablan (Ind-MP) in connection with the hearing on the CNMI delegate’s H.R. 560—the Northern Mariana Islands Residents Relief Act—and the impact of the ban H-2B worker visa ban on Philippine workers. He would end the day with a meeting with DoD officials.