Legislature begins final sprint to finalize 2021 General Session
Cheyenne – The end of the 2021 General Session of the Wyoming Legislature is quickly approaching, with less than two weeks until April 7, when all Joint Conference Committee reports are due, and adjournment of the body is scheduled by midnight.
“We’re on the downhill slide from here. Now that crossover has happened, we’re taking up Senate files in the House and vice versa,” Rep. Hans Hunt (R-Newcastle) said. “The major bills concerning the budget and education funding are still alive.”
“Because the major bills are still alive and well, the rest of the process is still alive and well. This has been an amicable session between the parties in our state, and things are going well. We hope it continues this way,” he added.
All bills that originated in the House of Representatives or the Senate, respectively, were heard on Third Reading on March 24. If bills had not been heard on Third Reading, they died on the floor.
At this point, the House is busy working on bills that have made their way through the Senate and vice versa. The last day for bills to be reported out of committee in the second house is March 31.
“At this point, we’re just working through Senate Files on First Reading,” Hunt said. “Once work starts to wind down here, by about the middle of next week, we’ll start getting concurrence requests from the Senate.”
Hunt explained, “On the bills which have made their way all the way through the process, if a bill is amended by the second body, then it has to go back for concurrence in the body of origin. If they are not concurred on, they appoint a conference committee to work out the differences.”
Conference Committees consist of three members of each body, appointed by the chair. Those committees work to reconcile the differences between bills that were passed by the House and the Senate, since each body has the prerogative to amend legislation as it passes through their chamber.
In particular, Hunt explained it is likely House Bill 173, which deals with education funding and recalibration, will go to conference committee.
“Our goal with House Bill 173 is to stabilize education funding and ensure we don’t drain the Rainy Day Fund,” Hunt commented. “There is likely to be a Conference Committee on the bill, but I’m optimistic we’ll reach agreement.”
While the session isn’t set to end until April 7, Hunt explained it is likely their final two days, April 6-7, will be conducted virtually.
“The primary reason we go back into session virtually for two days after Easter is to vote on any overrides by Gov. Mark Gordon,” Hunt noted. “There hasn’t been any indication there will be any vetoes on the critical bills – largely the budget – thus far.”
Among items of final business, legislators will also begin to consider topics to be discussed during the 2021 interim. Committees will start meeting to discuss interim topics beginning next week.
“I’m not sure if we’ll have those discussions finalized prior to the end of session, but we’ll have the preliminary discussions,” Hunt explained.
During discussions about interim topics, Joint Committees will decide when and where they plan to meet, as well as prioritize the topics they hope to discuss.
“All of the suggested topics from lobbying groups, legislators and private citizens are collected and discussed,” Hunt said. “The Joint Committees prioritize the top five or so topics. Committee chairmen then present their preferred list to Management Council, and then Management Council has the final say on topics.”
He added, “By and large, Management Council accepts the work of committees, and we move forward into our interim session.”
This year, Hunt indicated the goal is to hold interim committee meetings in person in communities across the state. There is also likely to be an option for virtual commenting and attendance during the interim.
Saige Zespy is a corresponding writer for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.