Ag committee discusses draft bills and hears industry updates
Douglas – The Agriculture, State and Public Lands & Water Resources Committee met Nov. 14-15 to continue the committee’s interim work. The committee met to review a variety of draft bill reviews, including drafts addressing state leasing-automatic application resubmittal and state land lease deficiencies-cure process.
Since the Agriculture, State and Public Lands & Water Resources Committee meeting on Sept.1-2, the draft bill addressing state leasing-automatic applications have changed. Legislative Service Office Committee Staff Lucas Plumb explained to the committee a brief overview of what the bill entails.
“This bill does still create somewhat of an automatic process for the resubmittal of applications for leases of land for grazing and agricultural purposes,” he said. “After discussing this bill with the Office of State Lands and Investments (OSLI), now when filling a renewal application, the OSLI would provide notice to any current lessee of state lands of grazing and agriculture purposes not less than 90 days before the expiration of the existing lease.”
This notice would be given to every current lessee of state lands for grazing and agricultural purposes not less than 90 days before the existing lease ends. If the current lessee is still considered by the director to be qualified to lease state lands, the notice should include an invoice for rental payment necessary to continue the lease and also include a summary of current lease terms, he explained.
“If the current lessee certifies they are still qualified to lease state lands, they agree to the lease terms provided by OSLI and provide payment for the first year’s rental within 30 days of receiving the notice, the current lessee will be considered to have automatically re-submitted their application, he shared”
If the current lessee fails or refuses to certify they are qualified to lease or fail to agree to lease terms or submit payment, their application will not be automatically re-submitted. Any current lessee not considered qualified to lease state lands or does not have their application re-submitted may still file a new application with OSLI within the standard current statutory timeframe of 120 to 130 days before the expiration of the lease, mentioned Plumb.
In the event of conflicting applications, applications will be filed not earlier than 120 days and no later than 90 days prior to the expiration of the existing lease and the OSLI shall notify the current lessee of a conflicting application in the 90-day notice to all current lessees.
“This act shall apply to all leases of state lands for agriculture and grazing purposes expiring on or after July 1, 2024,” said Plumb.
Addressing this bill, Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) Executive Vice President Jim Magagna noted, while the concept of an automatic renewal application sounds great in principle, the bill does not relieve the lessee of their responsibility to act to secure renewal of their lease.
“As we move forward, our recommendation is to move forward the second bill addressing state land lease deficiencies-cure process,” he said.
Legislative Service Office Committee Staff Heather Jarvis explained the difference of the draft bill addressing state land lease deficiencies-cure process.
This bill states: All applications leasing grazing and agricultural lands under outstanding leases must be filed in the OSLI not earlier than 120 days and no later than 60 days prior to the expiration of the existing lease. No later than 40 days, in the event the current lessee fails to file an application to renew, files an incomplete application or causes OSLI concern regarding renewal, the OSLI shall notify current lessee of neglected or noncompliant renewal application.
Per the bill, the notice must be in writing; identify the failure to file an application and deficiencies; provide current lessee not less than 30 days from the receipt of the notice to file a lease renewal application to resolve deficiencies; and indicate failure to file a lease renewal or to resolve deficiencies will result in the leased lands becoming vacant.
“This process is similar between the two bills, but one additional thing this draft bill does is, if its amendments are approved, it separates two statues and pulls in an amendment in reference to procedure upon failure to pay,” Jarvis said.
OSLI and ag association perspective
“We believe increasing simplicity and efficiency is important when renewing these leases,” mentioned OSLI Deputy Director Jason Crowder. “These are very critical leases across the state so we want to make sure we get it right and we’re working with our lessees and applicants.”
In comments on the “cure process” bill, Magagna expressed WSGA’s strong support for this bill including several amendments presented by OSLI. However, Magagna strongly objected to proposed amendments which would have required the submission of annual rental payments 40 days prior to the anniversary date of the lease. This provision was removed from the bill prior to its approval on a 12 to two vote by the committee.
Magagna also objected to the proposed delay in the effective date of the bill, if passed in the 2023 Legislative Session, until July 1, 2024. However, the date is not changed at this time.
The committee voted to further table the proposed draft bill addressing leasing-automatic application resubmittal.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to firstname.lastname@example.org.