Livestock Board Sees Impacts from Legislative Session
Hello and welcome to almost-spring in Wyoming. This usually means four things. The wind is going to blow. Folks are gearing up for calving, lambing and spring farming. Basketball tournaments are in full swing, and the Legislature has just finished another session.
The first order of business that I would like to relay to our producers is a change in Board members. We would like to give our sincere thanks and offer our appreciation to our two outgoing members, Joe Thomas of Meeteetsee and Donna Baldwin Hunt of Newcastle, for their years of service to the Board and the industry. Their input and insight has been invaluable to the Board and the State, and we look forward to their continued input as valued and knowledgeable producers.
The Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) would also like to welcome our two newest members and thank them for their offer to serve the livestock industry of the state. Please welcome Martin Mercer of Hyattville and Warren Crawford, DVM of Sundance. We look forward to their contributions to the Board and our industries.
Before I give a review of the legislation that affects the Livestock Board, we would like to recognize the challenges that have been faced by all in the state in the recent years declining revenues. From our vantage point, we are particularly aware of those faced by our citizen Legislature and our fellow Executive Branch agencies to apply reductions to budgets and services.
There were a few pieces of legislation which affect us directly, the first of which would be Senate File (SF) 115, an additional section of language added to Wyoming Statute (WS) 6-3-203, Aggravated animal cruelty.
The new language reads, “A person commits aggravated cruelty to animals if he:
(vii) Shoots, poisons, or otherwise intentionally acts to seriously injure or destroy any livestock of domesticated animal owned by another person while the animal is on property where the animal is authorized to be present.”
The animal cruelty statutes fall under those the WLSB can enforce pursuant to WS 7-2-101 (E)(I).
The next would be SF 147, which amends the language in WS 11-20-408(b). This statute refers in part to the Wyoming Livestock Board’s ability to raise fees. Current statute allows the Board to adjust fees, “… not more than one (1) time per fiscal year and by not more than 20 percent in any one fiscal year…”
This has changed from 20 to 25 percent and becomes law on Oct. 1, 2017.
The third is inside the supplemental budget bill in reference to our agency budget. In June, the Livestock Board responded to the Governor’s recommendation for all agencies to find an eight percent cut to our General Fund appropriation. Included in these was a cut to our Brand Inspection General fund of $558,936.
The Joint Appropriation Committee (JAC) accepted all these cuts and added an additional cut of $500,000 to the Brand General Fund for fiscal 2018. These cuts of $1 million will carry forward into the next biennium, as well.
Inside our budget in the supplemental bill, JAC removed funding for three of our four criminal investigators, beginning Jan. 1, 2018. In short, that means next year we have one criminal investigator for the entire state. The Livestock Board will form a subcommittee to bring forward options to the producers, to discuss potential adjustments to our program in a manner that allows us to maintain a viable ability to perform our mandated duties and continue to provide service to our producers.
Please feel free to contact me with suggestions and ideas at email@example.com, and we will carry these suggestions forward into committee meetings. Stay tuned and monitor our Board meeting schedule to avail yourself of the opportunity to provide input.