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July 9, 2021 2:15 PM, EDT

Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson Begins Term as Chair of Governors Association

Asa Hutchinson Gov. Asa Hutchinson by C-SPAN

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Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson was recently elected chairman of the National Governors Association, which has prioritized economic recovery as the country continues to climb out of the COVID-19 pandemic.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy was elected as vice chairman.

Hutchinson took the reins from New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo at the association’s virtual summer meeting July 8. Governors rotate as chairs of the organization on a yearly basis.

During his remarks at the meeting, Hutchinson said priorities will include close collaboration with administration leaders. He said the National Governors Association (NGA) will focus on sharing information with the administration on subjects such as pandemic recovery and American Rescue Plan funding.

Cuomo said NGA representatives have convened frequent meetings with White House officials since the start of the pandemic. Hutchinson said there is still a lot of work to do to combat vaccine hesitancy.

“One of my most important missions will be to help facilitate the states’ partnership with the White House to guide the nation out of the pandemic,” Hutchinson said. “This will be a critical year for our states and territories individually and for the nation.”

Hutchinson also emphasized the importance of advocacy on infrastructure, education, health care and public safety.

“Washington needs to hear from us,” Hutchinson said. “The work of the NGA is more important than ever. It is very important that our states work as laboratories of democracy.”

Hutchinson has been governor of Arkansas since 2015. Previously, he held leadership roles at the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Department of Homeland Security.

At the NGA he has served as co-chair of the Resource Center for State Cybersecurity. NGA launched the center as a way to provide governors with resources, tools and recommendations as they craft cybersecurity policies and practices. For his yearlong chair’s initiative, Hutchinson will focus on computer science education.

Murphy will oversee the NGA Center for Best Practices, a research and development office serving the country’s governors.

Several other governors were elected to positions on the NGA Executive Committee, which guides the group’s operations and priorities. Other committee members include Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey, Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer and New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

NGA plans to hold next year’s summer meeting in person in Portland, Maine, which is where it was scheduled for 2020 before COVID-19 prompted the group to move to a virtual format.

Maine Gov. Janet Mills noted the last time NGA met there was in 1983. She attended it as a young district attorney.

“Because we started planning this a year and a half ago, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel,” Mills said. “We’re ready for you.”

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