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Philp leaves Wyo Legislature after 17 years

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

Riverton – Frank Philp was sworn into the Wyoming Legislature in January 1993, and since then he’s been active on numerous committees and involved in countless bills. His decade-spanning career will end this January, and he says he will miss it a lot.
“The good thing about the Legislature is the people you meet and work with. There are wonderful people from all over this state. I’ve always been a Republican, but I always got along with individuals from the Democratic side as well. Some of them are really good friends of mine today.
“You might get up on the floor and really be fighting with someone you know, but after it’s over, it’s over, and you’re friends. Most of time people don’t take it personally,” comments Philp.
When he began his legislative career, Philp was on the Education, Agriculture, Public Lands and Water Resources committees. From there he moved to the Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee.
“I enjoyed being on the Ag Committee. We passed a federal natural resource bill while I was on it that was designed to help counties and local governments deal with federal issues.
“Don Schiffer and I passed another bill that diverted about $200 million every year to a permanent mineral trust fund. That money all went into savings and didn’t get spent. One of these days it will draw a lot more interest than it does now,” notes Philp.
“I think ag is a lot more important than a lot of people think it is. You always read about tourism being the number two industry in the state, and ag being third, and I don’t know about that. I think the books are cooked on that. I remember in the 1980s when the bust came and ag was about the only thing left in this town. The uranium and iron mines all closed and the oil field went south. Times like that are when you realize how important ag is, and it’s still important today,” says Philp.
The Select Water Committee is another area in which Philp has served, first from 2000 through 2004 and again from 2007 to 2008.
“I think it’s a good committee. That water money does a lot of good around the state. About half of it goes to ag projects and about half goes to city and domestic water projects. It was a good committee to be on with an ag background, and I managed to get money into ag projects a lot of times when I was on the Appropriations Committee,” explains Philp.
He first served on the Appropriations Committee in 1999 and was elected its chairman in 2005. He stills serves in that capacity today and describes Appropriations as a good way to become educated on everything surrounding state government.
“It’s a good committee, but a hard committee. We listen to hours and hours of testimony from state agencies and hear all their budgets. We look through every budget line by line, and it’s time consuming. We also hear a lot of the bills that have money attached to them in some way, because any bill with an appropriation has to be re-referred to the Appropriation Committee,” says Philp.
Rules and Procedures is another committee on which Philp has served since 2000.
“The Legislature goes by Mason’s Order. If there’s ever a difficulty over Parliamentary Procedure the bill goes to the Rules Committee. If the speaker has a bill he’s particularly concerned about, he can send it to the Rules Committee – the speaker is the Chairman of the Rules Committee,” notes Philp.
He adds that he will miss the Legislature very much. “I like the strategizing part of it. A lot of people say you’re playing games, but that’s life. Figuring out how to get stuff done is part of it. There have been a lot of good things happen while I was in the Legislature. One example is the Hathaway Scholarship that helps Wyoming kids obtain a higher education. That’s a great program and we put that money to good use.
“I know we’re being accused of spending too much money, but a lot of that money went into savings. A lot of the money people say we spent actually went into savings, and is still there,” adds Philp.
Upon leaving the Legislature in January, Philp says he has some dogs and horses that need his attention after he gets back to better health. Philp also farms and ranches along with his brother and sister north of Riverton.
“My brother lives on the ranch in Lysite, and my sister and I live on the farm in Hidden Valley,” he explains. “We raise a few Quarter Horses and some Pyrenees and Border Collie dogs, but we mostly concentrate on livestock and raising feed on the farm.”
Of being elected back to Legislature from 1993 through 2010, Philp says he ran unopposed a few times and opposed a few times. “I never resented having someone run against me, that’s the way it’s supposed to work. But, I guess people liked me and voted for me and I managed to win. I’m going to miss it.”
Heather Hamilton is editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at

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