Wyoming Legislature’s 2022 Budget Session begins to wind down
Cheyenne – After 155 House Bill, 144 Senate Files, eight House resolutions and two Senate resolutions were drafted, the 66th Wyoming Legislature’s 2022 Budget Session is scheduled to adjourn on March 11 by 12 midnight. Of the bills filed, 148 remain active, with 91 numbered bills either not being considered or failing introduction votes.
March 4 marked the 15th day of the Wyoming Legislature.
“March 1 marked the crossover period for the body, meaning it was the last day for third reading in the house of origin,” said a news release from the Wyoming Legislature. “Any legislation that did not successfully pass third reading in the primary house will not go on for further consideration in the opposite chamber.”
Moving forward, several pressing issues will be handled in the next few weeks, including the state’s capital construct bill, American Rescue Plan Act legislation, the state’s budget bill and redistricting.
Bills concerning the agriculture industry continued to move through committee. However, any bill not through committee by March 5 will die.
“The state lands bills are our top priorities,” Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna noted, saying the bill to clarify the state lands permitting process continues to move through unscathed.
Another bill of concern is HB 137, which requires earlier public notice when a land exchange is proposed.
“The process is so complex already,” Magagna said. “When a land exchange is first proposed, this just begins a conversation. We oppose this bill.”
Another bill addresses wildland fires.
“Under the law, you can’t start building fire lines until you have notified 811,” he said. “Frankly, rural fire fighters have been ignoring this law. This bill would have exempted wildland fires. As of now, the bill allows a one-year exemption to allow time to fix the bill.”
Underground water contested case hearings are also a topic of one bill. This bill would require applicants applying for water wells to have to prove they won’t damage or deplete other water users with their new project, rather than the other way around.
The bill arose after applications for water wells were submitted in southeast Wyoming, and existing water users found they had to prove injury, rather than the other way around.
On March 1, both the House and Senate had appointed Joint Conference Committee members to reconcile differences between each body’s version of the General Government Appropriations bills, House Bill One (HB One) and Senate File One (SF One). The Joint Conference Committee deadline was March 4.
“There aren’t a lot of differences in the budget between the House and Senate versions of the budget bill we have seen,” Magagna noted, adding the bill has not yet been reported out of Joint Conference Committee.
Along with wrapping up legislation, the legislature also requested the interim topic proposal be submitted by March 4. During the interim, legislators will consider a variety of topics during in-depth discussions.
Magagna plans to submit an interim topic to discuss addressing excess elk populations.
“In working with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD), there may be more tools to see if there are changes to facilitate WGFD being able to control elk populations,” he commented, noting populations are excessive in several areas across the state.
Another likely interim topic will involve trespass, according to Magagna.
“The trespass bills got pulled back this year,” he explained. “Trespass across private lands for hunting and a bill on painting posts or rocks a certain color to indicate private lands were both pulled back this year because there was a general feeling the whole area needed more discussion.”
Trespass continues to be a hot topic in the state, particularly as more and more of the public is recreating on Wyoming lands.
Look for more information on interim topics, as well as the conclusion of the Wyoming Legislature in two weeks.
Saige Zespy is a correspondent for the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.