WSGA reviews hot ag topics in Wyo Legislature
Cheyenne – During their 2019 Legislative Reception, the Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) members looked at those bills working through the Wyoming Legislature that have an impact on the agriculture industry.
Many bills relate to activities in agriculture, while others relate to local and state governments, as well as a number of other topics.
Several bills look at the collection of shed antlers and horns, which are currently regulated west of the continental divide. This year, a bill looks at expanding that effort across the state.
“Two or three landowners have raised concerns to us, and there’s concern about people who cut fences and do damage when no one from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department is available to provide law enforcement,” explained WSGA Executive Vice President Jim Magagna.
House Bill 46 looks at civil liability for agriculture feed products. WSGA supports the bill, which protects people who produce feed.
“If something is harmed by an agricultural feed product – like feed, seed, hay silage or similar products, that has a defect that wasn’t intentional, the producer of the feed product cannot be held for the strict liability standard,” Magagna said. “The crop producers are solidly behind this bill.”
The bill only protects primary growers, however, not commercial processing facilities.
One Senate bill protects landowners from third-party liability.
“If we allow somebody to come onto our land and a third party gets injured as a result, this bill means the landowner can’t be held liable,” Magagna said. “For example, if people come onto our land at no charge, are recreationally shooting and accidentally shoot an oilfield worker also on the property, the landowner cannot be liable.”
Other ag bills
HB 51 says counties cannot adopt fence standards that are stricter than the state standards, in response to recent requirements seen in Teton County. Earlier in 2018, Teton County attempted to force landowners to modify agricultural fences in such a way they would not adequately contain livestock.
Magagna described another bill that would grant up to $50,000 to each county to develop or amend a county natural resource plan.
“The livestock brand amendments bill is sponsored by Rep. Albert Sommers,” Magagna continued. “Currently, a brand is abandoned if it is not renewed within one year. Rep. Sommers is concerned that’s not enough time.”
The bill allows three years before a brand is abandoned, but if it is renewed within that period, a penalty of 20 percent is imposed on the registration fee each year it is delinquent.
A separate bill allowing Wyoming Livestock Board to send brand renewal notices via a variety of means other than certified mail died early in the legislative process.
Another bill would provide $250,000 to county sheriff’s departments for costs directly related to livestock law enforcement.
“Most of our sheriffs aren’t ag people, and we need this money to get them engaged in livestock law enforcement,” he said.
This year in the Legislature, a series of bills also require either legislative or Senate confirmation of a variety of positions appointed by the executive branch.
HB 47 asks for Senate confirmation of water commissioners.
“This is part of a broader issue that disturbs me,” Magagna commented. “So far, we’ve seen six bills designed to take away authority from the executive branch and put it towards the legislative branch.”
Several of the bills deal with appointment of people to boards, while another deals with land exchanges.
In addition to water commissioners, a second bill would require Senate confirmation of water division superintendents.
“Senate confirmation of these positions just politicizes the process,” Magagna said. “It doesn’t make sense for the Legislature to make these decisions.”
HB 50, which would have required legislative review of state land transfers, died in committee on Jan. 17.
Another bill requires legislative ratification of negotiated interstate compact amendments.
“The problem with this bill is, it’s already in law,” Magagna explained. “For example, the Colorado River Compact cannot be amended in any state without the state legislature agreeing to it.”
Magagna commented, “Just based on the principles of good government, WSGA has opposed these bills, unless there’s a solid reason to require legislative approval.”
Visit wyoleg.gov for more information.
Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.