Agriculture bills still being considered in Wyoming Legislature
While the Wyoming Legislature was busy considering the supplemental budget bill, House Bill (HB) One and Senate File (SF) One, General government appropriations, other bills were being considered at the same time, including several notable bills.
In the House Agriculture Committee, members considered several bills, which were subsequently passed and introduced in Committee of the Whole.
Among those passed through the House committee were HB 188, Irrigation district loans and HB 229, Livestock identification choice act.
The bill related to Irrigation district loans was unanimously passed by the House Agriculture Committee, and was placed on the General File on March 9 for consideration by the entire body.
“The bill would authorize the State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB) to issue loans to irrigation districts as specified, which would require the SLIB to amend its current rules,” explains the fiscal note on the bill, adding costs include supplies and advertising costs related to publication, which would be absorbed in the SLIB’s current budget.
“This stems from the 2019 Goshen Irrigation Canal collapse issue, and it provides another avenue for irrigation districts looking for funding as another option,” Rep. Hans Hunt (R-Newcastle) explained. “Currently, only municipalities are eligible to receive SLIB funding for water projects. This provides another opportunity for irrigation districts to get loans if they are needed for serious maintenance and upkeep.”
The bill is aimed at rehabilitation and reconstruction projects to ensure the irrigation infrastructure of the state is able to be maintained.
Importantly, the bill seeks to aid irrigation districts in replacing diversion, transmission and distribution systems at a low interest rate.
The House Agriculture Committee similarly passed HB 229, on an 8-0-1 vote, with one member excused from the vote. The bill, Livestock identification (ID) choice act, was sponsored by 11 representatives and five senators.
“This is a great bill. It’s simple and to the point,” Hunt explained. “The essence of this bill is, it puts into Wyoming statute that Wyoming, by law, would recognize all forms of livestock identified spelled out and permitted under the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) 2013 livestock ID rule.”
The 2013 rule was aimed at traceability purposes and identification for interstate shipment of animals. The bill allows a broad gamut of identification methods.
“This gets ahead of any potential rule making requiring specific types of identification,” Hunt explained. “We saw attempts from USDA to circumvent the rule-making process.”
Rep. Chip Neiman (R-Hulett) sponsored the bill, with Hunt co-sponsoring. Hunt also noted other states are also considering similar language for next year’s legislative processes.
“Next year, I’m hopeful we can get a coordinated effort going to introduce similar language in as many ag states as possible,” Hunt adds.
Other bills in ag committees
A handful of additional bills are working through the agriculture committees in both the House and the Senate.
SF 25, Animal impound proceedings – bond and dispositions, was considered on March 11, after the press date of this article.
For SF 25, the bill passed the Senate on March 8, on a 24-6 vote, before being received by the House and referred to the Agriculture Committee.
The Senate considered SF 135, Water rights – livestock on federal land. The committee also debated HB 52, Wyoming school protein enhancement project; HB 54, Wyoming meat packing initiative and HB 118 Food freedom act amendments on adjournment on March 11, which was after the press date of this article.
With several weeks left to work on bills, the Wyoming Legislature will wrap up by April 2, with adjournment by midnight.
“We’re coming up to crunch time for cross-over between House and Senate bills,” Hunt explained. “March 17 is the last day for bills out of Committee, and March 18 is the last day for Committee of the Whole on bills.”
March 19 is the last day for second reading on bill in the house of origin, and March 22 is the last day for third reading in house of origin.
“We have all of next week to work on bills, now that we have the budget week wrapped up,” he added.
Saige Zespy is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.