As Republicans clear out of Philadelphia humming with the good vibes of their harmonic convergence and the Democrats gear up for their convention in Los Angeles later this month, thousands of state leaders will gather this weekend to talk about regional problems and solutions at bipartisan meetings of the Council of State Governments in Providence, R.I., Biloxi, Miss., Minneapolis, Minn., and Colorado Springs, Colo.
The meetings, dominated by legislators but welcoming members of the executive and judicial branches, will cover a range of common issues. Teacher recruitment, a problem threatening to reach near-crisis levels in states like Nevada and South Dakota, is a likely focus at each meeting.
But discussions also promise to give officials a chance to discuss interstate affairs of particular interest to their region.
In Providence, surrounded by the highly-touted successes of Mayor Buddy Cianci's revitalization programs, more than 700 Northeastern leaders will tackle downtown redevelopment, the future of I-95, wildlife management policy in the North Atlantic, prescription drug pricing and the establishment of a Northeast Heating Oil Reserve.
Participants in the 39th annual meeting of the Eastern Regional Conference will include delegations from ten states, two territories, the District of Columbia and the Canadian provinces of Nova Scotia, Quebec and Newfoundland and Labrador.
"There's really a lot to be gained from having a dialogue between our neighbors in Canada and the northeastern states because there are so many issues that they share in common, whether it's trade, transportation or environmental protection," said meeting spokesman Adam Rich.
Southern leaders will hash out new ideas on the fate of tobacco, land stewardship, prison overcrowding and utility deregulation, while the Minneapolis agenda includes seminars on high-speed rail, Midwest-Canada relations and genetically-modified crops.
In Colorado Springs, members of CSG-West's executive committee will gather to lay out the agenda for the organization's annual meeting November 15-18 in San Diego, Calif.
Corporate interests, which have unabashedly boosted their presence at recent gatherings of the nation's governors in Harrisburg, Pa., and state legislators in Chicago, Ill., will play a muted role during the meetings. Rich said that CSG policy prevents any single corporation or organization from sponsoring individual sessions and the gatherings will not host an adjacent exhibitors' hall.
The Council of State Governments is the nation's only regionally-based organization for leaders in all three branches of government.