Budget session wraps up in Cheyenne following challenging session
Cheyenne – March 15 marked the last day of the 2018 Budget Session of the Wyoming Legislature.
With 330 bills and resolutions numbered for introduction, the Wyoming Legislature ultimately passed 142 pieces of legislation, with 71 bill originating from each house.
In addition to those bills, legislators worked to pass the state’s biennial budget bill, which was signed by Gov. Matt Mead on March 14.
“The total appropriation in the 2018 budget for the 2019-20 biennium totals $8.62 billion, of which $2.9 billion is General Fund,” says the Legislative Service Office (LSO).
“Both the House and Senate have addressed a broad range of issues affecting Wyoming residents, and while some of these laws will take effect immediately, many will not go into effect until July 1 of this year,” LSO adds.
Hans Hunt, chairman of the House Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee and representative from Newcastle, notes, “For all of the turmoil this year, I think the session went well.”
“Nobody got everything they wanted,” he continues, “but overall, we passed some important legislation. It’s good we were able to pass and finalize a budget, and we’re ready for a busy interim.”
Importantly, Hunt says that many discussions will continue over the interim session, where Senators and Representatives from around the state will addresses issues in more depth to make informed decisions on topics that are important to Wyoming’s future.
Lawmakers will begin their interim committee work in the coming weeks, says LSO, noting the Legislature’s Management Council plans to finalize interim committee topics April 19.
However, Hunt says a preliminary list is likely to include topics like the structure of the Wyoming Livestock Board and their fee schedules for brand inspection and other activities.
“Another topic we have interest in is a broad discussion related to water, including understanding the Board of Control, their powers and fees,” Hunt comments. “Somewhat related, we’d like to have an overview of the Colorado River Compact, which I think it a good idea to provide more information to our Legislators on some of these important issues from Wyoming.”
Hunt also notes that Right to Repair legislation, which was introduced in 2017 and 2018 may also come back as an interim topic. The topic would give the opportunity for legislators to understand the difficulties involved in working on farm equipment.
“This topic has been big enough to spark a national debate at the Equipment Manufacturer’s Association meeting on the national level,” he says. “The information that the bill would release is scheduled to be available by 2021 anyway, but it’s a good conversation to have.”
While the list is not exhaustive, Hunt also notes he is pleased about the passage of a bill to create a new Wyoming State Fair Board, which stemmed from last year’s interim session.
“I think the Wyoming State Fair will be in better shape down the road because of the work we did last interim,” Hunt says. “But, the bill brought up some good questions about how boards are compensated at the state level.”
Hunt noted that board compensation schedules vary greatly throughout state agencies, and he hopes that one of the Legislature’s interim topics will include board structure.
Moving into the interim, LSO and Wyoming’s legislators encourage the public to be actively involved with the body as they discuss challenging tops.
“The public can use the Legislature’s Website at wyoleg.gov to find information about interim legislative committees, including committee membership, the dates and locations of interim legislative committee meetings – which are held throughout the state – and minutes of committee meetings,” adds LSO. “The website also contains a free email subscription service for all interim committee information.”
LSO concludes, “Wyoming’s 65th Legislature will convene on Jan. 8, 2019 for the General Session.”
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.