Business Program Agenda

The theme of the 2019 CSG/ERC Annual Meeting is Healthy States. The Annual Meeting’s agenda will address the concept of health across a wide range of topics, including issues such as maternal health & the social determinants of health, strengthening workforce development programs essential to healthy state economies, and the fiscal health of our states.  We will also explore why some communities in our region are thriving while others are not and address what states are doing to combat issues such as addiction and mental illness.

Please join us and your colleagues around the CSG eastern region, as ERC’s policy committees–including our Committees on Agriculture and Rural Development, Canada/US relations, Energy and Environment, Education, Health, Military and Veterans’ affairs, and Transportation, along with the ERC Communities of Color and Task Force on Territorial Relations, discuss issues of critical importance to the region.   

Speakers and topics will be updated regularly. Please check back for updates and look for announcements on email!



Saturday, July 27

2:45 – 3:45 pm ERC Budget Committee Meeting (for members of the ERC Budget Committee Only)
4:00 – 5:00 pm ERC Strategic Planning Committee Meeting
5:45 pm Depart for the ERC Executive Committee & Corporate Contributors Dinner (by invitation only)
6:00 – 9:00 pm ERC Executive Committee & Corporate Contributors Dinner (by invitation only) at the Senator John Heinz History Center


Sunday, July 28

8:30 – 9:30 am ERC Annual Meeting Committee Breakfast Meeting
9:45 am – 12:00 pm ERC Executive Committee Meeting
12:30 pm – 2:00 pm ERC Executive Committee Luncheon  

Alienated America: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse

Author and journalist Tim Carney will speak on how the economic struggles of poorer communities are rooted in the erosion of institutions of civil society such as churches, clubs, and civic organizations.



  • Timothy P. Carney, Author; Visiting Fellow, American Enterprise Institute; Editor of the Washington Examiner
3:00 pm – 5:00 pm Council on Communities of Color: Race in the State House: A Critical Examination of Culture and Policy

In the current racial climate, state lawmakers are challenged by issues of race, racism, and racial justice in state houses across the eastern region. This session will critically examine state house culture, the influence of “quiet polite racism,” and other nuances of race to examine racial gaps in legislation, explore policy solutions, and consider policy changes through a race-conscious lens. The session will also continue the conversation on racialized public space in order to generate strategies to improve the safety of people of color.

Presiding: Senator Kevin Parker, New York

Moderator: Joselyn Peña-Melnyk, Maryland 


  • Michael Coard, Esq., Attorney and Adjunct Professor, Temple University  
  • Representative Raymond Hull, Rhode Island
  • Kiah Morris, Former State Representative, Vermont
5:00 – 6:00 pm Eastern Leadership Academy and Toll Fellows Reception
6:00 pm – 9:00 pm Opening Event at Heinz Stadium


Monday, July 29

7:30 – 8:30 am General Breakfast (open to all attendees)
Breakfast is served and begins at 7:30 am.

The Agriculture & Rural Development Committee will begin their session at 7:30 a

All other sessions are from 8:00 – 9:30 am


ERC Concurrent Policy Committee Breakfast Meetings (open to all Annual Meeting delegates)

Agriculture & Rural Development: Roundtable

The Committee will host a state-by-state recap of significant legislation from 2019 sessions. Committee members will share information on legislation in their states that has an impact on farmers and rural communities.


  • Representative Carolyn Partridge, Vermont; Chair, ERC Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee

Washington Update

The Committee will look at recent actions in Congress that will affect states in the ERC region. Among the issues to be discussed will be the 2018 farm bill, agricultural trade, and the political dynamics of the House and Senate Agriculture Committees.


  • Fran Boyd, Senior Vice President, Meyers & Associates, Washington, DC

Canada-U.S. Relations: Roundtable on Common Issues and Comparative State and Provincial Legislative Processes

Good ideas know no borders. ERC Canada-U.S. Relations Committee members will share current issues, regional updates, and best practices in the Canada-U.S. relationship. The discussion will give representatives from ERC member states and provinces an opportunity to learn how others accomplish similar goals.


  • MNA Guy Ouellette, Québec; Co-chair, CSG/ERC Canada-U.S. Relations Committee


  • Honourable Ted Arnott, Speaker, Legislative Assembly of Ontario


Energy & Environment:

Cutting-Edge Strategies for Lowering Energy Use in Buildings
and Spurring Economic Growth

Several northeastern states have established targets to improve the efficiency of buildings, which are the top energy users in most U.S. cities and a major source of energy-related expenditures for most households. This session will feature presentations from the CEO of a fast-growing LED lighting business that prospered by moving its manufacturing operations from China to Pennsylvania, and from public and private sector proponents of super-efficient “passive house” buildings and deep retrofits that are creating dramatic energy cost savings in commercial, residential, and affordable housing.


  • Senator Paul Formica, Connecticut; Co-Chair, CSG/ERC Energy and Environment Committee


  • Holly Glauser, Director of Development, Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency
  • Laura Nettleton, Architect and Founder, Thoughtful Balance
  • Craig Stevenson, President, AUROS Group 
  • Charlie Szoradi, Chairman and CEO, Independence LED Lighting

The session will conclude with a roundtable discussion of innovative state legislation from 2019.

Health: Graying States: Challenges of Aging on the Eastern Seaboard

The eastern seaboard is home to some of the oldest states, in terms of not only history, but also changing demographics. This session will explore the challenges and opportunities as states, providers, and communities prepare for the “silver tsunami” of an aging society.


  • Laura Poskin, Director, Age-Friendly Greater Pittsburgh, Southwest Pennsylvania Partnership for Aging


  • Debra Faulkner, Interim Vice President of Medicare/Medicaid Program, Neighborhood Health Plan of Rhode Island
  • Patience Moyo, PhD, Assistant Professor, Brown University School of Public Health
  • Shane Nugent, Vice President, The Nugent Group
  • Erwin Tan, MD, Director of Thought Leadership, AARP

Military and Veterans Affairs: Occupational Licensure

Cutting the Red Tape: Connecting a Direct Path to Licensure for Servicemembers, Veterans, and Military Spouses

Over the past 60 years, the number of jobs requiring an occupational license has grown from about one in 20 to nearly one in four. When implemented properly, occupational licensing can help protect the health and safety of consumers by requiring practitioners to undergo a designated amount of training and education in their field. However, military spouses and families are often disproportionately affected by the requirements and variances of occupational licensing. How can the states of the ERC work to relieve these workforce issues for our military veterans?


  • Sara Appel, Multi-State Collaborative on Military Credit and the Midwest Student Exchange Program
  • Harold E. Cooney, Northeast Regional State Liaison, Military Community and Family Policy, Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense.
  • Daniel Logsdon, Manager of the National Center for Interstate Compacts, CSG National

Transportation: Funding and Financing Transportation: Federal Legislative Update, Road Use Charges, Autonomous Vehicles

The Transportation Committee meeting will focus on the critical issues of funding and financing transportation, with a presentation on road user fees and a roundtable discussion on states’ efforts to fund their transportation systems. The Committee will also receive an update on the activities of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). There will be a brief status update on the reauthorization of the federal Surface Transportation Program. The Committee will also discuss a proposed resolution in support of a long-term federal transportation policy.


  • Representative Pat Brennan, Vermont; Chair ERC Transportation Committee


  • Steve Blackistone, State and Local Liaison, National Transportation Safety Board
  • Roger Cohen, Senior Policy Advisor to the Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Funding/Financing Roundtable Speakers:
  • Representative Pat Brennan, Vermont
  • Senator Louis DiPalma, Rhode Island
  • Senator Kim Ward, Pennsylvania
9:45 – 9:55 am Opening Ceremony

Presentation of Colors

National Anthems of Canada and the United States

9:55 – 10:05 am Welcome and Introductions: 

  • Senator Joe Scarnati, President Pro Tempore, Pennsylvania, 2019 CSG/ERC Co-Chair
  • Representative Ryan Mackenzie, PA, 2019 CSG/ERC Co-Chair
10:00 am – 10:30 am


10:30 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.



Opening Keynote AddressThe Future of Work: Robots, AI, and Automation

Darrell M. West will discuss the evolving concept of work, becoming lifelong learners, and how we can transition from an industrial to a digital economy.


  • Darrell M. West, Vice President of Governance Studies and Director of the Center for Technology Innovation, The Brookings Institution

Panel Discussion

Creating a Strong Workforce to Build a Strong State Economy
A discussion on investing in education and training to address 21st century skill gaps, provide apprenticeships, and ultimately advance workforce capabilities and opportunities. 


  • Hon. Dennis M. Davin, Secretary, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development


  • Plinio Ayala, President and CEO, Per Scholas 
  • Lee Branstetter, Professor of Economics and Public Policy, Heinz College, Carnegie Mellon University
  • Meg Cortezi, Executive Director of Government Services Vertical, TEKsystemsJohn McElligott, CEO of York Exponential, President of the Fortress Initiative and the Fortress Academy
12:30 – 2:00 pm Luncheon Plenary(priority seating for meeting delegates): Social Determinants of Health
The conditions in which people live—their access to good housing, healthy food, safe neighborhoods and employment are the social determinants of their health. After undergoing the largest municipal bankruptcy in our nation’s history, former Detroit Public health Commissioner, Dr. Abdul El-Sayed, helped rebuild the city’s public health infrastructure by addressing the social determinants of health. In so doing, Detroit’s Health Department also became a state and national leader in public health innovation.Speaker: 

  • Abdul El-Sayed, MD, PhD, Physician; Epidemiologist; Public Health Advocate; former Health Officer for the City of Detroit
2:00 – 5:00 pm Off-site Policy Excursions – day 1

Please note you must sign-up in advance when you register for the meeting. Space is limited, and preference is given to CSG-ERC Members on a first-come, first-served basis.

    1. 1. Introduction to the Passive House: The Future of Super-Efficient Buildings, Pittsburgh

      Pennsylvania has become a leader in promoting “passive house” construction, which can reduce a building’s energy use by 80 percent or more compared with conventional design techniques, at little or no extra cost. Join us as we tour new and existing buildings that have been built or retrofitted to passive-house standards, and learn about their dramatic energy cost savings, superior indoor air quality, and hyperefficient design that could revolutionize the building sector.


    2. National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC) at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh

    Carnegie Mellon’s National Robotics Engineering Center (NREC), the world’s largest robotics research and development organization, has been at the forefront of developing autonomous systems for more than 20 years and sparked the growth of Robotics Row. NREC works closely with government and industry clients to develop and mature robotic technologies from concept to commercialization. The visit will provide an opportunity to learn about trends in the application of robotics in agriculture, mining, manufacturing, education, transportation, and national defense.

    2:15 – 4:15 pm Concurrent Sessions

    1. Hope or Hype: Can Artificial Intelligence and Digital Health Transform Healthcare?

    The use of artificial intelligence, digital health, and similar advances in health care is exploding. This panel will break down the areas where these “disruptive technologies” are making a difference and where they may simply be empty promises.


    • Eric Schneider, MD, Senior Vice President for Policy and Research, The Commonwealth Fund


    • Martin Doerfler, MD, Senior Vice President, Clinical Strategy and Development, Northwell Health
    • Ryan Howells, Principal, Leavitt Partners
    • Neal Neuberger, Director, Health Innovation, Bipartisan Policy Center
    • Sylvia Trujillo, Senior Washington Counsel, American Medical Association


    2. Rural Broadband: Bridging the Connectivity Divide – Part 2

    This session continues the discussion from the April 2019 Policy Summit in Wilmington, Delaware. The discussion will dig deeper into the issue of the lack of high-speed Internet in our region’s rural areas, as well as innovative and cost-effective solutions to bridge the broadband gap.


    Moderator: Senator Gene Yaw, Pennsylvania


    • Cat Blake, Policy & Program Manager, Next Century Cities
    • Tom Coverick, Managing Director, KeyBank Municipal Broadband Practice
    • Craig Settles, Industry Analyst, Speaker, Author


    5:00 – 6:00 pm 2020 New Hampshire Reception
    6:00 – 7:00 pm Friends of Canada Reception
      Dinner on your own 


    Tuesday, July 30

    7:30 – 8:30 am General Breakfast (open to all attendees)
    Breakfast is served and begins at 7:30 am.

    The Agriculture & Rural Development Committee  will begin their session at 7:30 a

    All other sessions are from 8:00 – 9:30 am

    ERC Concurrent Policy Committee Breakfast Meetings (open to all Annual Meeting delegates)

    Agriculture & Rural Development: Hemp: What Can — and Can’t — States Do? 

    The 2018 farm bill loosened restrictions on the growing and processing of hemp, but what exactly do the FDA and USDA allow? There will be an analysis of the legal issues regarding hemp farming, and a panel of state legislators will discuss how states in the ERC region are dealing with hemp.

    Moderator: Senator Elder A. Vogel, Jr., Pennsylvania


    • Senator Judy Schwank, Pennsylvania; Minority Chair, Senate Agriculture & Rural Affairs Committee
    • Representative Carolyn Partridge, Vermont; Chair, House Committee on Agriculture and Forestry
    • Rusty Rumley, Senior Staff Attorney, National Agricultural Law Center

    Canada-U.S. Relations: NAFTA/USMCA: Progress on Negotiations

    Although President Donald Trump, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto signed the new U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA) on November 30, only Mexico has ratified the agreement. The panel will look at where the three parties are in the negotiation process, what issues remain challenging for each country, how the agreement might affect other trade partners, and its potential effect for the ERC region.


    • Assemblyman Robin Schimminger, New York; Co-chair, ERC Canada-U.S. Relations Committee


    • Michelle Egan, Professor, American University, and Council on Foreign Relations (IAF) Fellow
    • Honourable Victor Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Government of Ontario 
    • Christopher Sands, Senior Research Professor and Director of the Center for Canadian Studies, Johns Hopkins University Nitze School (SAIS)


    Education Committee:Teacher Shortage/Licensing Reciprocity; Student Debt Crisis

    In response to teacher shortages in many states, the Committee will examine increasing licensing portability for educators across states in the region through a compact approach.  Committee members will examine licensing criteria to ensure that licensing requirements for educators are not overly broad, burdensome, or restrictive, while still promoting positive outcomes for students. The Committee will also examine standardized testing practices, which have come under increasing scrutiny in the states, and discuss the role of these tests and how they can be used to improve student outcomes. Lastly, the Committee will discuss the growing student debt crisis. As student debt nationally exceeds $1.5 trillion, with higher per capita debt levels in the Northeast region, the committee will discuss policy responses to address this growing crisis. 


    • Stephanie Aragon, Policy Analyst, Education Commission of the States (ECS)
    • Charles Doolittle, Program Director of Teacher Talent, Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO)
    • Dan Logsdon, Manager of the National Center for Interstate Compacts, CSG National
    • Dr. Philip S. Rogers, Ed.D., Executive Director, National Association of State Directors of Teacher Education and Certification (NASDTEC)

    Health Committee: A Shameful Statistic: Maternal Mortality and Host States are Responding

    Although the United States has the most advanced health care system in the world, more American women die due to pregnancy-related complications than in any other developed country. What are states doing to respond to this terrible statistic to improve maternal health outcomes, reduce health disparities affecting women of color, and assist mothers with substance use disorders?


    • Athena Cross, President, Cross Health Care Solutions


    • Tekisha Everette, PhD, Executive Director, Health Equity Solutions
    • Lucy Hodder, JD, Professor, University of New Hampshire School of Law
    • Stacy Beck, MD, Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology, and Reproductive Sciences, University of Pittsburgh
    • Lisa Asare, MPH, Assistant Commissioner, Division of Family Health Services, New Jersey Department of Health


    Territorial Relations: Organizing Session 

    The Committee on Territorial Relations will discuss the impending crisis due to the expiration of federal funds on September 30, 2019 which supplement the Territories Medicaid block grants.  This loss of funding will cause many citizens to lose their health care coverage.  The Committee will also discuss recovery efforts in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, including the challenges to accessing funds allocated under HUD’s Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG-DR) Program.   A roundtable discussion will be held to determine how ERC can best support long term recovery of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. 


    George Laws García, Interim Executive Director, Puerto Rico Federal Affairs Administration

    9:00 – 9:30 am ERC Nominations Committee Meeting
    10:00 am – 12:00 pm Plenary Session Adult Use of Cannabis: What’s Missing in the Discussion?

    Three states in the ERC region have legalized the adult use of cannabis, and the others permit the use of medical marijuana. Panelists will discuss legalization experiences in Colorado, Washington state, and Canada; address issues regarding expungement; and explore the challenges encountered by producers in minority communities seeking to get established in the industry, among other topics.


    Sandy Felkey Mullins, Senior Research Scholar, Marron Institute, New York University


    • Jameson Berkow, Cannabis Business Reporter, The Globe and Mail
    • Andrew Freedman, Co-Founder and Senior Director, Freedman & Koski
    • Jessica Velazquez, Board Member, Minority Cannabis Business Association
    12:00 – 1:30 pm Luncheon Plenary Session (priority seating for meeting delegates) Not Business as Usual: Riding the New Media Wave

    Reporter, political analyst, and author Howard Fineman will present his insider’s view of Washington;  Fineman will also evaluate the ways political news and the media have changed into a 24-hour-a-day, social-media-reliant phenomenon, and consider what this means for American institutions and citizens alike.


    Howard Fineman, Journalist, author, political analyst and contributing writer for NBC News.

    1:45 – 5:30 pm Off-site Policy Excursions – day 2 

    Please note you must sign-up in advance when you register for the meeting. Space is limited, and preference is given to CSG-ERC Members on a first-come, first-served basis.

    1. Visit to an Ethylene Cracker Plant Construction Site Beaver County, Pennsylvania

    Tour the new Shell petrochemical complex under construction, driven by the abundant ethane supply in the world’s largest producing natural gas field, the Marcellus Shale, which is also shaping the economy of Pennsylvania. As one of the nation’s largest construction sites, it is employing thousands in construction-related jobs, with more than 600 positions anticipated post-construction. When completed, it will include an ethane cracker and three polyethylene units, as well as power and steam generation, storage, logistics, and cooling water and water treatment.


    2. Visit to a Farm Market and 169-Year-Old Orchard Wexford, Pennsylvania

    The group will tour Soergel Orchards, a 450-acre fully diversified fruit orchard with farm market, garden center, rack and cloth cider press, bakery and deli, gift barn, wine shop, and cider house. The state of agriculture and dairy farming in Pennsylvania will also be discussed.


    Honorable  Russell Redding, Secretary of Agriculture, Pennsylvania


    2:00 – 4:00 pm Concurrent Sessions

    1. Census 2020: State Efforts for a Complete Count

    The stakes for the 2020 Census are especially high for states. The census will affect not only congressional and state legislative district boundaries and the composition of congressional delegations, but state budgets for medical and nutritional programs, education, housing vouchers, Head Start, highway construction, and many other programs. Challenges for the 2020 Census include limited broadband in many parts of the country as the census moves partially online, an under-resourced federal census program, and uncertainty regarding the administration’s response to last month’s Supreme Court decision that a citizenship question cannot be added under current circumstances.

    Moderator: Sam Levine, HuffPost


    • Juliana Cabrales, National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials Education Fund
    • Larra Clark, Deputy Director, Public Library Association, and the American Library Association’s Public Policy and Advocacy Office
    • Norman Bristol Colón, Executive Director, Governor’s Census 2020 Complete Count Commission, Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development
    • Senator Kevin Parker, New York
    • Representative Carlos Tobon, Rhode Island


    2. Fiscal Roundtable/Budget & Tax Chairs Committee

    • State Budget Trends

    Speaker: Brian Sigritz, Director of State Fiscal Studies, National Association of State Budget Officers

    • Impact of the Puerto Rico Bankruptcy on the U.S. Municipal Bond Market

    Senator Carmelo Ríos Santiago, Puerto Rico 

    • State by State Budget Roundtable
    6:30 – 9:30 pm 2019 Pennsylvania State Reception and Dinner at the Omni William Penn Hotel 

    Wednesday, July 31

    7:30 – 8:30 am ERC Executive Committee Closing Business Session
    8:30 – 10:00 am Farewell Breakfast 

    Creating Cultures of Health

    The conditions where people live, learn, work, and play — the social determinants of health — can affect their health and well-being. Unstable housing, whether urban or rural; low income; and substandard education are among the many challenges that states and localities are grappling with to improve their constituents’ ability to live well and long. By working to build a “culture of health,” two of our region’s communities are taking a multifaceted approach to addressing all the factors that support better health and will share their stories about how they built the foundations of healthier communities.


    • Monica Vinluan, Senior Program Officer, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation


    • Vilma Martinez-Dominguez, Community Development Director for the City of Lawrence, 2015 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize Winner, Lawrence, Massachusetts
    • Bob Stephens, Garrett County Public Health Officer, Director, Garrett County Health Department, 2017 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Culture of Health Prize Winner, Garrett County, Maryland


    To learn how to login and register for the 2019 Annual Meeting, click on the Pittsburgh icon below, the symbol for CSG/ERC’s 2019 Annual Meeting.