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State legislative priorities: Magagna provides insight on WSGA priorities in current legislative session

by Wyoming Livestock Roundup

The Green River Valley Cattlemen’s Association (GRVCA) held its annual meeting at the Town Hall in Marbleton on March 1-2. 

Among the high profile lineup of speakers who presented during the two-day event was Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) Executive Vice President Jim Magagna, who provided an update on WSGA’s current legislative priorities at the state and federal levels. 

“As usual, when GRVCA has their meeting at this time of year, the Wyoming Legislature is the big issue on the table, and they have a week to go,” began Magagna. 

“The main challenge they have left is to adopt a budget, and there are plenty of bets being made it won’t get done at the end of the week so they will have to come back for a special session,” he added.

With this, Magagna admitted WSGA hasn’t spent much time engaging with the budget, but they have worked vigilantly to support and reject legislation relevant to Wyoming’s ag and natural resource industries. 

WSGA-supported bills pass

Magagna noted WSGA brought two bills forward, both of which were “cleanup” to a lot of work the association did last year on state lands. 

“The two bills we had this year were relatively minor, and they both passed without any problem,” he stated. “They were some of the first bills to be forwarded to the government.” 

He explained one of these bills provides more flexibility for submitting a lease renewal, allowing the director authority to provide a lessee with 30 additional days if the lease hasn’t been renewed by the expiration date. 

The other bill provides the date of the postmark on a renewal application or annual payment shall be deemed the date it was received rather than the date it was actually delivered to the office.

“The other thing we have provided is, on lease renewals, there was some antiquated language in the statutes about how payment could be made. It didn’t allow for the use of a credit card, and we have removed this so they now have the flexibility to accept credit card payments for lease renewals or lease applications,” Magagna said. 

Property bills

remain top priority 

In addition to the budget, Magagna noted property bills have been a high priority in the Wyoming Legislature, with 23 property bills initially introduced. 

“We are down to about four or five now that are still moving forward, all of which are focused on providing property tax relief to residential homeowners,” he explained. “None of them have any impact on the way our ag land and facilities are taxed, but several of them, if passed, would provide some potential tax relief for farmers and ranchers.” 

Magagna further shared, of the handful of bills, there was only one WSGA became heavily involved in opposition to.

He explained this bill would have done away with property taxes on any value of land up to $1 million and would have instituted a two percent increase in sales tax. 

“While there may be pros and cons to this, it was our feeling this legislation needs far more research to determine what the implication of the sales tax would be on different industries and across different counties,” he stated.

Natural resources, land ownership and wildlife bills get attention

Magagna noted several other bills have held WSGA’s attention at the state level, including the role of the federal government in natural resource management, foreign land ownership in Wyoming and sage grouse conservation. 

He said he believes most of the natural resources legislation introduced has been a result of the Rock Springs Resource Management Plan and noted there have been several that have moved forward. 

“One of them outlines support for state and local governments being more involved in federal land processes in the state, and the other bill says if there is a federal order or regulation related to resource management on federal land the government determines is not compliant with the law, no state or local agencies have any obligation to comply or work with the federal government in the application of the particular provisions found to be in violation of the statute,” he explained. 

Magagna continued, “Another area which has gotten quite a lot of attention were a few bills introduced – I believe one is still moving forward – regarding foreign ownership of land in Wyoming.” 

He explained one of these was an extensive bill specific to ag land, which provided there cannot be any ownership of ag land in the state of Wyoming by any foreign country, and any nation that did acquire ag land would have to put it to non-ag use in five years or they would lose ownership of the land. 

Additionally, Magagna touched on the Sage Grouse Implementation Team (SGIT) and the federal government’s sage grouse regulation revisions. 

He shared he believes SGIT became more aggressive at remodeling Wyoming’s sage grouse plan in an effort to get ahead of revisions happening at the federal level. 

“It caught everyone by surprise, and they, by their own submission, didn’t do an adequate job of making landowners aware their land was being proposed for addition to the sage grouse core area,” Magagna said

“It caused quite a bit of consternation, so SGIT pulled back and made some changes,” he continued. “But, this legislation will provide if there are any proposed changes to sage grouse habitat, the public needs to be notified and given a chance to provide public comment.”

HB60 provides

a challenge 

Lastly, Magagna shared one of WSGA’s highest priorities and biggest challenges during this legislative session has been House Bill (HB) 60, Excess wildlife population damage amendments. 

“For the past 10 to 20 years, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) has allowed wildlife populations, particularly elk populations, to far exceed the department’s own population goals they set for certain areas,” he stated. 

“This is causing major impacts on landowners, where a lot of producers have had to reduce their livestock herds significantly or buy additional pasture and hay,” he added. 

Although WGFD has been more aggressive in their efforts over the past two years, Magagna noted the current law doesn’t adequately reimburse landowners or properly incentivize the department to continue removing excess elk. 

He admitted, “The bill has struggled. We got it out of the House with a few acceptable amendments, then it went over to the Senate and was the only bill of those which came from the House that had not been introduced in the Senate.” 

He explained WSGA worked tirelessly to ensure the bill was introduced, and it was then assigned to the Travel, Recreation and Wildlife Committee.

“In the end, they did move the bill forward on a four to one vote, but because of some concerns expressed by others that it will cost WGFD a lot of money, they added an appropriation of $5 million,” he said. “This is not something WSGA or WGFD asked for, and unfortunately, I am not sure if it was done to help WGFD or in the hopes of killing the bill because it will move to the Appropriations Committee and they are busy with the budget.” 

However, Magagna assured meeting attendees he has not given up the fight and is still urging the committee to support HB60.

Keep an eye out for WSGA’s policy priorities at the federal level in next week’s edition of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. 

Hannah Bugas is the managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to

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