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Governor informing Capitol Hill about Guam's issues

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 by Ken Quintanilla

Guam - Governor Eddie Calvo is in our nation's capitol this week taking a more aggressive approach with informing federal officials on the issues affecting our island. And he's not alone. 

It's been a busy week for the island's chief executive in chilly Washington, DC. In just the past few days, he had the chance to meet with governors from Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the CNMI. "We had our initial discussions with each other and we all agreed that we put together a formalized association and there's so much areas of common ground in particular to areas where we believe the federal government through a lot of regulatory action is causing some major problems with the territories and the commonwealth and other areas where we believe where we can work collaboratively in regards to economic development as well," Calvo told KUAM News.

Governor Calvo not only is in town for the National Governors Association Meeting but the senior plenary session of the Interagency Group on Insular Areas. And while Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell is co-hosting the IGIA meeting later this week, Governor Calvo got to meet her beforehand. He said, "I discussed issues in this meeting first and foremost the Compact impact and of course we common ground with the state of Hawaii on this where we do believe that we've reached a critical point where the impacts are placing such a heavy burden on our General Fund and this community that it endangers the viability of many critical services here on Guam."

Along with Compact impact, other areas regarding federal regulations that have affected Guam and the other US territories and commonwealths include the Jones Act, cabotage laws, the Affordable Care Act and of course the visa waiver program for China. In fact, Governor Calvo relayed the concern to new homeland security secretary Jeh Johnson during a dinner at the White House hosted by President Barack Obama and the First Lady.

"He's fully aware of it, too, and he is working on it because he was aware of it when he was the lead counsel of the Defense Department when we were working on the programmatic agreement," he said.

And with these issues going on for years, some even decades, Governor Calvo says the best approach is being more aggressive. "They may even mean legal action, so this is what's important - coming out here to Washington, DC, looking for those folks and representatives that can be either friends or allies with like-mind in focusing on like issues," he shared.

And if it wasn't at the top of the feds priority list, he hopes it is now. "But when the governor of Guam and meets them face-to-face, eye-to-eye, then it raises the awareness and hopefully it brings up those priorities even higher on their list of other priorities so some action could occur," added Calvo.

The governor is set to attend the IGIA session on Tuesday along with the Office of Economic Adjustment. He's also trying to secure a meeting with Senator John McCain's office. 
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