The Resurgence of Progressive Governance: A View from the West
Governor Brian Schweitzer (D-MT)
President and Chief Executive Officer, Center for American Progress
Governor Brian Schweitzer will address his efforts to make government more effective and talk about how his “open door” policy has worked for Montana.
Note: All video provided in QuickTime (MPEG-4) format.
Full Event Transcript
Monday, February 27, 2006
Program: 12:30 – 1:30 PM
Lunch will be served at 12:00 PM.
Admission is free.
Center for American Progress
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Washington, DC 20005
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Governor Brian Schweitzer was born in Havre, MT in 1955, the fourth of six children — five sons and a daughter — of Kay and Adam Schweitzer. He was raised on his parent’s registered cattle ranch in the Judith Basin, Montana. His German and Irish grandparents immigrated to Montana near the turn of the century and homesteaded in Hill County. His parents still farm near Geyser.
Brian earned a Bachelor of Science degree in International Agronomy from Colorado State University, and later earned a Master of Science degree in Soil Science from Montana State University. Brian married Nancy Hupp, his college sweetheart, in 1981. Nancy was raised in Billings and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Botany from Montana State University.
After graduation, Brian and Nancy began a career of irrigation development that took them to Africa, Asia, Europe and South America. He has built hundreds of miles of roads, poured thousands of yards of concrete, buried many miles of pipe, and built hundreds of structures, from houses to warehouses to distillation plants. During seven years in Saudi Arabia, Brian developed over 28,000 acres of irrigated cropland. Brian and Nancy returned to Montana in 1986 to raise a family and to build a ranching and irrigation business in Montana.
His business and agricultural experience is broad and deep, including extensive farming and ranching experience in Montana, and successful agricultural business projects on five continents. Brian has owned and operated Montana farms in Flathead, Sanders, Rosebud, and Judith Basin Counties.
In 1993, Brian was appointed by the U.S. Secretary of Agriculture to serve on the Montana State USDA Farm Service Agency committee. He served for seven years with the FSA, and his three-person committee was responsible for the operation of 46 county offices, 300 employees and a budget of more than $300 million. He resigned in 1999 to run for U.S. Senate.
Brian has been active in developing and implementing national farm policy, and ensuring that the voice of local Montanans is heard. In 1995, he received an award from the Secretary of Agriculture for outreach efforts to Native Americans. In 1996, Brian was appointed to the Montana Rural Development Partnership Board. In 1999, he was appointed to the National Drought Task Force, a 16-member national board, to review policy and report to Congress an improved coordination response to drought emergencies nationwide.
On November 2, 2004 Brian was elected the 23rd Governor of Montana. The day he took office was the same day Montana began its 59th legislative session. During that 90 day session, Governor Schweitzer acheived a major portion of the legislative priorities that he proposed during his campaign. He achieved passage of legislation to increase production of renewable energy, mandate country-of-origin labeling for domestic meat and produce, increase access for hunting and fishing on state lands, double the number of college scholarships for Montanans, boost K-12 education funding by the largest increase in the state’s history, and form a purchasing pool for small businesses who want to buy health insurance for workers but cannot afford it. True to his word, he did it all without raising taxes.
He has spent most of his time since the session focusing on clean energy development. He has become a leading voice on national energy issues. His proposals for a national coal-to-liquids conversion program, wind energy production and biofuel manufacture have been featured in the NY Times, the Washington Post and LA Times. Mr. Schweitzer has also been a frequent guest on Kudlow-Kramer and Lou Dobbs, and his visionary energy plans will be the subject of a feature-length story by Leslie Stahl on 60 minutes that is expected to air this winter.
John Podesta is the President and CEO of the Center for American Progress and visiting Professor of Law at the Georgetown University Law Center. Podesta served as Chief of Staff to President William J. Clinton from October 1998 until January 2001, where he was responsible for directing, managing, and overseeing all policy development, daily operations, Congressional relations, and staff activities of the White House. He coordinated the work of cabinet agencies with a particular emphasis on the development of federal budget and tax policy, and served in the President’s Cabinet and as a Principal on the National Security Council. From 1997 to 1998 he served as both an Assistant to the President and Deputy Chief of Staff. Earlier, from January 1993 to 1995, he was Assistant to the President, Staff Secretary and a Senior Policy Adviser on government information, privacy, telecommunications security and regulatory policy. Podesta previously held a number of positions on Capitol Hill including: Counselor to Democratic Leader Senator Thomas A. Daschle; Chief Counsel for the Senate Agriculture Committee; Chief Minority Counsel for the Senate Judiciary Subcommittees on Patents, Copyrights, and Trademarks; Security and Terrorism; and Regulatory Reform; and Counsel on the Majority Staff of the Senate Judiciary Committee. Podesta is a graduate of Georgetown University Law Center and Knox College.