By Melanie Condon

State legislative leaders from across the country were treated to a half-day discussion with cabinet secretaries at the White House last week, as part of NCSL’s three-day meeting that brought the leaders to D.C. for informative sessions and to meet with members of Congress.  

State legislative leaders met at the White House with cabinet secretaries to discuss state concerns. In addition to participating in roundtable discussions with the Secretary of Education Arne Duncan and newly appointed Secretary of Health and Human Services Sylvia Mathews Burwell, the group of almost 30 legislative leaders also heard from Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.

Jewell spent a candid 45 minutes discussing issues ranging from fire protection and grazing rights in the Western states, to offshore drilling and revenue sharing in coastal states and future plans for the United States to be more of a presence in the Arctic region.

The bipartisan group of legislative leaders asked pointed questions, such as what the administration was doing to better Indian education on reservations, what the future holds for offshore drilling and how revenue shares to states may change.

Jewell even noted her support for the Marketplace Fairness Act, an issue particularly close to NCSL’s heart that would enable state governments to collect online sales taxes that they are owed. In her pervious life as CEO for sporting goods giant REI, Jewell was an outspoken proponent of allowing online sales taxes to be collected and remitted to states.

While not always agreeing with the points addressed by the secretary, the leaders did their part to urge the importance of working with the states on energy and land issues. And as no one spilled coffee on the historic parquet floors of the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, hopefully we will be invited back!

Melanie Condon is a NCSL policy specialist with the Natural Resources and Infrastructure Committee.

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This blog offers updates on the National Conference of State Legislatures' research and training, the latest on federalism and the state legislative institution, and posts about state legislators and legislative staff. The blog is edited by NCSL staff and written primarily by NCSL's experts on public policy and the state legislative institution.


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