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Wyoming Legislation

Cheyenne – It was a busy session for the Wyoming Livestock Board with numerous pieces of legislation related to the agency’s funding, authority and duties.
    New funding wasn’t gained for the agency’s brucellosis program, but the agency did earn broader authority to help ranchers in areas where the wildlife carries the disease. “Because we won’t be testing cattle at every market after the new Chapter 2 Brucellosis Rules go into affect,” says agency director Jim Schwartz, “we anticipate some additional dollars to become available that could be used for adult vaccination, spaying and testing in the Designated Surveillance Area.”
    The DSA, or that area where the rules surrounding prevention of brucellosis in cattle are more strict, encompasses all of Sublette and Teton counties, the portions of Lincoln County north of the Bridger-Teton National Forest boundary, Fremont County west of the Wind River Indian Reservation and the western half of Park County with Highway 120 serving as the dividing line. According to Schwartz, funding opportunities will be limited to those producers who’ve completed a herd management plan or a producer facing quarantine following discovery of brucellosis in a cattle herd.
    “We’re estimating we’ll have in the vicinity of $400,000 that would have went to testing low risk cattle that we can put toward adult vaccination and spaying,” says Schwartz. While rules remain to be written, he doesn’t envision the agency paying to spay feeder heifers that enter the area for summer grazing. Offering one example of an application, he says a rancher who runs heifers over as feeder cattle may qualify.
     “We’ll be working on rules and will submit a first draft to the Livestock Board on April 2,” says Schwartz. “At that time they’ll set the amount of money the WLSB can obligate in concert with having a herd plan in the DSA to show public benefit.” When working with public dollars on private land, a display of public benefit is required for constitutionality reasons. Board members will also be asked to set the per head rate they’re willing to pay for spaying.
    The WLSB was also successful in adding a field veterinarian to its present veterinary staff comprised of State Veterinarian Walter Cook and Assistant State Veterinarian Jim Logan. Schwartz says after talking with Cook, it appears the vet will be located in Park County. “We’ll open it up for applications and try to get somebody on board as soon after July 1 as we can,” says Schwartz. “We’re excited to have a field vet to help us with all of these issues.”
    In lieu of a request for an information technology specialist, the agency was granted $45,000 to assess its IT needs. “We need to do a business analysis to make sure we’re heading in the right direction and staying current with the most current technology out there,” says Schwartz. In the meantime, he says he doesn’t have the resources necessary to distribute and set up the laptop computers that were purchased for the state’s brand inspectors.
    In other legislation this session, the agency saw its request to remove goats, llamas and alpacas removed from the brand inspection program denied. They did expand their authority to recoup costs when aiding with emergency events like traffic accidents.
    The 2010 Budget Session could prove equally as busy for the WLSB. Interim study work to be carried out by the Joint Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Interim Committee includes topics of great importance to the agency.
    According to the interim study overview document released by the Wyoming Legislature in the final days of the session, “The Committee will review and consider strategies for brucellosis management, the potential for long-term vaccine studies, bio-laboratory applications and new methods of delivery of vaccines to wildlife.”
    They’ll also be looking at “the need for pet animal care and facilities and will consider the responsibility of the Wyoming Livestock Board in managing pet animals.” Current statute assigns authority over “all dumb animals” to the agency. It’s a designation that some have said needs to be narrowed.
    “I think it’s going to be a huge issue,” says Schwartz. “We’ve got to be proactive and figure out how to protect animal agriculture and our rodeo industry.” In the meantime, it’s an area of the statutes that he says warrants some attention.
    Jennifer Womack is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
Cheyenne – The upcoming state budget and funding of agencies and projects was one topic taking center stage at the mid-November meeting of the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts and Wyoming Weed and Pest Council joint meeting in Cheyenne.
    A group of Wyoming legislative leadership was present to give their perspectives and projections for the upcoming legislative session, which will be a budget session setting the state’s spending for the next two years.
    “We do have some good reserves,” said Senate President John Hines in his comments. “But I think they’re there for when it rains a lot, not just when we have a shower. I think we don’t need to spend them all right away.”
    “We’ve been extremely fortunate to have surplus revenues from natural gas, oil and coal prices,” said Speaker of the House Colin Simpson of Wyoming’s income history. “Natural gas has been the real driver of the surpluses, and we base our budgets on projects of quantity produced and the price they may achieve over the next year or two.”
    Simpson said the state’s current budget was based on $3.75 natural gas, while in mid-November 2009 the going rate was $2.34. “The price has rarely gone over $4 in the last year, and it’s more frequently been below $3,” he added.
    Simpson said a comparison of the October 2008 and October 2009 reports reveals a $1.2 million budget reduction for the state. “We knew this was coming, and that’s why we broadened the Governor’s authority to cut budgets between sessions, and he did that over the summer. That cut about $200 million from the state budget.”
    Hines said he feels the Governor’s 10 percent cut in Summer 2009 was carried through the agencies, and that they’re carrying forward and getting work done. “Like our own businesses, when our income is down a little we make adjustments and can get by quite well,” he said.
    Wyoming’s Revenue Committee, said Hines, has a long list of proposals, among which is the suggestion to remove exemptions from sales and property taxes. “We have 40-some exemptions on sales tax, and close to that many on property taxes,” he noted, saying there are two sides to that argument.
    “We do have 10 regular committees and 10 select committees that address issues,” he said. “When we really don’t know what to do we form a committee and study it, and sometimes we come up with a good answer and sometimes we don’t.”
    “There will be substantial reductions in the next biennium,” said Simpson. “The shortfall for biennium ending in June 2010 isn’t bad, it’s the next two years in 2011 and 2012 where there’s a nearly $400 million reduction in forecasted revenue.”
    “Without energy revenues, Wyoming is a much different place,” continued Simpson. “We’ll go into this budget session with much lower dollars than before and reprioritize like we do every year based on revenues.”
    Governor Freudenthal will release his proposed budget December 1, after which the joint appropriations committee will look at it before releasing another revenue estimate in January 2010.
    Hines said he expects the number of introduced bills to be slightly fewer this year than last, but that he still expects between 200 and 300 bills to work through this session.
    “We all know economic condition of the country is different than it has been for quite a few years,” said Hines. “There’s a philosophy that when the income revenue goes down the first thing to do is raise taxes. But then the other side of the story is that most people’s income is down also.”
    “We’ll focus on where we are fiscally, where we will be in two years and four years and do our best to ensure we’ll sustain as much as we can without raising taxes,” said Simpson. “We need to realize where we’ve been in the last five years and how fortunate we’ve been and ensure we’ve got fiscal conservatism on the budget.”
    Of the upcoming 2010 legislative session, Hines said, “Anything you want to think about will come up this year.”
    Christy Hemken is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


With the new snow falling across Wyoming, the agriculture industry is also facing a new set of priorities in 2017, and industry groups have set their focus at the beginning of the year on the 2017 General Session of the Wyoming Legislature.

The Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA), Wyoming Farm Bureau (WyFB) and Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts (WACD) are all actively working during the new year on a variety of priorities that impact producers around the state.

Legislative session

For most ag groups, the year starts with the general session of the 64th Wyoming Legislature.

“There aren’t a lot of issues this year so far,” comments Brett Moline, government affairs specialist for WyFB. “Of course, we’ll watch the budget, but the agencies that ag works with – the Wyoming Livestock Board and Wyoming Department of Agriculture – aren’t large pieces of the budget compared to agencies like education and health.”

Bobbie Frank of WACD notes that cuts taken to the water quality program and others have implications at the local level, which impacts conservation districts.

Jim Magagna, WSGA’s executive director, noted that budgetary concerns are some of his biggest for this year.

“We all know we have to take reductions, but keeping reasonable budgets that allow agencies like the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and Wyoming Livestock Board to do their jobs in reasonable but cost-effective ways is going to be pretty important,” he says.

Magagna adds, “We’re going to be engaged in the discussions about budgeting, and we’re going to work hard to protect critical programs for agriculture.”

Other bills

Moline says that WyFB will be supporting a bill related to municipal jurisdiction, which would define the jurisdiction of municipalities to just within city limits.

“We feel that people should have a vote for those people who write the rules and regulations affecting them,” he explains. “The city being able to regulate outside the city limits is essentially rules without representation.”

Moline’s organization will also support a bill that adds collection of horns and antlers to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s trespass statutes. WSGA also indicated support for the bill.

“We are also one of the few groups that will support Senate Joint Resolution 3 Public lands constitutional amendment,” he says. “Our members feel that the state agencies can do a better job managing the lands than the federal agencies do.”

Keith Kennedy, lobbyist and director of several ag organizations, says he will be closely watching HB 54 and 67, two bills related to agricultural land taxation.

Moline notes, however, that HB 67 is a bill that WyFB will not support.

“That bill could affect people that have good mineral incomes or young farmers and ranchers that are just sorting out,” he says. “We don’t think that bill is a workable situation.”

The bill to clarify terms for dry bean commission members is one that Kennedy will support, as well.

“Several members have expressed support for the convention of states bills, but none of the groups I represent have yet taken any formal position on this issue,” Kennedy adds.

For WSGA, Magagna notes that a bill related to the farm loan program is the primary piece of legislation that his organization will support.

“We are requesting a couple of easy changes to that program,” he says, explaining that the bill looks to increase the loan limit for $800,000 to $1 million to reflect inflation. “We also want to increase the percentage of dollars available to beginning farmer and rancher loans. That program is approaching the cap of what it could expend. This doesn’t involve any new dollars. It’s just a re-allocation.”

Special district bill

The bill related to specials districts is a top priority for many groups.

Frank comments that WACD has been involved in the discussion related to special districts for the entire year.

“We are exempted from the budget requirement bill, but it still applies to Watershed Improvement Districts, which we are the parent district of, so we want to stay involved,” Frank says. “We will also continue to work with the special districts.”

She notes that WACD will continue to work with special districts throughout the state to implement a training program, which was abandoned by the legislature but is still a top concern for many.

“We think training is important, and we’re going to open up our February training session to other special district board members,” Frank adds.

“We’re also closely watching the bills related to special districts,” Kennedy adds.

The 64th Wyoming Legislature will convene on Jan. 10.

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

 

Cheyenne – After 37 days in session, the 63rd Wyoming Legislature tackled 410 bills, with over 150 bills going to Governor Matt Mead for his signature. 

“Legislators spent 37 days in session, held 385 committee meetings and provided opportunities for all legislators to give voice to their constituents concerns,” says House Speaker Pro Tempore Tim Stubson. “The Legislative leadership began this session with the goals of strengthening our economy, improving our infrastructure, carefully developing our natural resources, keeping state decisions in state hands, maintaining a controlled budget and investing our human and financial resources wisely. They delivered on these goals.”

“The Legislature worked incredibly hard this session,” says Senate President Phil Nicholas, “and we accomplished a great deal. We have worked on bills that will increase jobs, improve infrastructure and enhance our education system.”

Ag perspective

For Wyoming’s agriculture industry, Wyoming Stock Growers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna, Wyoming Farm Bureau Executive Vice President Ken Hamilton, Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts Executive Director Bobbie Frank and Rocky Mountain Farmer’s Union Lobbyist and Government Affairs Representative Scott Zimmerman all mentioned that the session was, overall, positive for the industry. 

“The session took a while to get rolling, and it didn’t run at the feverish pace that we’ve seen before,” Zimmerman says. “It seemed like there was a lot more reserve from our legislators in introducing bills, and that helped a lot.”

With a variety of social issues – from anti-discrimination to Medicare – as the highlight of the session, he also mentioned that many bills seemed to go under the radar.

“Every time we get done with the session, we have bills that we were really pushing that died, but we can work them and bring them back,” Hamilton says. “Overall, it was a decent year for agriculture, at least from our standpoint.”

Trespass package

A trio of bills related to trespassing passed both the House and Senate and were signed by Governor Mead after some uncertainty in the middle of the session. 

“Senate File 12 Trespass to Collect Data was supported by a fairly large ag coalition,” Hamilton says. 

Frank emphasizes, “Our big priority was Senate File 12. We were very happy that the package of trespass bills passed, and we were pleased to see the legislature and the Governor supported that bill, as well as the civil trespass bill, Senate File 80.”

She continues, “We really would like to give a big ‘Thank you’ to those who championed Senate File 12. It will give landowners a lot of relief and empower them to protect their property rights. This bill brings integrity to the data collection process.”

“The Trespass to Collect Data bill was important for us,” Zimmerman says, “and the bill on landowner liability to a trespasser was also important.” 

Hamilton notes that trespass laws as a whole need to be considered in the future, however. 

“In the past, bills about our general trespass law as a whole have never gotten traction,” he says. “When we got into the discussions on Senate File 12, we started to see that some things could benefit by amending trespass statutes.”

The final bill in the trespass package was House Bill 108 Trespass – Landowner Liability, which provides protections for landowners if trespassers are injured on their property.

Water and land

“Water development is also important,” Zimmerman comments. “Those bills don’t garner a lot of publicity, but the omnibus bills – both construction and planning – help to renovate important water structures and are important.”

Magagna also noted that another bill, House Bill 8, passed that would protect landowners from any liability if something happens to a pipeline that they were not involved with during construction. 

“That bill frees landowners and subsequent landowners from liability,” he explains.

Transportation

Another important bill for the agriculture industry, Senate File 29, looked at commercial driver’s license requirements. 

Magagna mentions that the bill starts by eliminating the three-tiered class system on driver’s license, limiting licenses to just a Class C. 

Hamilton adds, “The gross vehicle weight was also raised to 39,001 pounds for folks. It is really good for people with pickups and goosenecks.”

“The other part of the bill dealt with the guys who drive bigger tandem-axle trucks,” he says. “Those exemptions weren’t as good as we had hoped, but we will have to see what rules and regulations come out of the bill.”

Magagna further notes that to obtain a commercial driver’s license, an endorsement can be obtained by either taking written and driving tests or bringing in an affidavit to certify qualifications to drive a commercial vehicle.

“That bill will help ag, especially producers on the border communities,” Zimmerman says. 

Other bills

For Wyoming Farm Bureau, the Wyoming Telecommunications Act was an important win. 

“We were anxious to get that bill passed as it was agreed to by the various sundry participants,” Hamilton says. “We were nervous when we saw efforts to go beyond the agreements made between the parties, but the bill came out pretty much as it went in.”

Hamilton also mentions the bill looking at the transfer of federal lands. 

“It is good that we had the discussion on transfer of federal lands,” Hamilton mentions, “but naturally there are strong feeling on both sides.”
Hamilton and Magagna both marked House Bill 56 Wyoming Food Freedom Act as being important for their membership. 

Additionally, Senate Files 133 and 134, two bills addressing Bighorn sheep in Wyoming were also important. The bills, discussed in an early edition of the Roundup both passed.

Until next year

“Overall, the session went very, very well,” Magagna commented. “We had 85 to 90 percent of the bills we were supporting pass.”

Only a handful of bills did not pass during the session.

Agriculture groups are preparing for the interim session now. Look for more in next week’s Roundup on the interim topics and what the next year will look like for the Wyoming Legislature.

The 2015 General Session adjourned on March 6. The 2016 Budget Session is scheduled to convene on Feb. 8, 2016.

Bill status

A selection of the bills important to Wyoming’s agriculture groups are listed below, along with their status as of March 13. 

House Bills

HB 4 – Prohibited Livestock Grazing – House Do Pass Failed

HB 18 – Drone Protection Act – Senate Do Pass Failed

HB 35 – Boards and Commissions – Senate Do Pass Failed

HB 75 – Balanced Budget Compact – Senate Died in Committee

HB 95 – Heavy Vehicle and Commercial Driver’s License – House Died in Committee

HB 121 – Constitutional Convention – Limitations – House Postponed Indefinitely

HB 124 – Determination of Highway Rights-of-Way on Federal Land – Senate Did Not Consider for Introduction

HB 133 – United National Agenda 21 – Prohibition on Implementation – House Died in Committee

HB 165 – Access to Public Land – House Do Pass Failed

HB 203 – Livestock Brands – Reciprocity – House Failed CoW

HB 209 – Transfer of Federal Lands – Senate Died in Committee

HJ 2 – State Superintendent of Public Instruction – House Do Pass Failed

HJ 4 – Balanced Budget Amendment – Senate Failed on Third Reading

Senate Files

SF 7 – Tethering Dogs – Senate No Report Prior to CoW Cutoff

SF 30 – Camp Guernsey – Range Management Fund – Senate Postponed Indefinitely

SF 63 – Predator Ownership – Senate Postponed Indefinitely

SF 68 – Property Rights Ombudsman – Senate Did Not Consider in CoW

SF 69 – Nonresident Allocation of Game Licenses – Senate Do Pass Failed

SJ 1 – Right of Privacy – Constitutional Amendment – Failed Senate CoW 

SJ 4 – Constitutional Convention – Senate No Report Prior to CoW Cutoff

SJ 5 – State Superintendent of Public Instruction – Senate No Report Prior to CoW Cutoff 

SJ 6 – Sage Grouse – Senate No Report Prior to CoW Cutoff

Signed by Governor Mead

HEA 1 – HB 8 – Landowner indemnification

HEA 77 – HB 56 – Wyoming Food Freedom Act

HB 70 – Omnibus Water Bill – Construction

HEA 100 – HB 100 – Highway Funding

HEA 89 – HB 108 – Trespass – Landowner Liability 

HJ 1 – Regulation of Freedom

HJ 3 – Free-Roaming Wild Horses

HEJR 4 – HJ 6 – Wyoming Local Food Production 

SF 1/HB 1 – General Government Appropriations

SF 10 – Education Administration 

SEA 31 – SF 29 – Motor Vehicle Drivers License Exemptions

SF 36 – Personal Identifying Information – Definitions

SEA 19 – SF 37 – State Protection of Date Privacy 

SEA 26 – SF 43 – Wyoming Telecommunications

SF 44 – Large Project Funding

SEA 45 – SF 46 – Fire Misdemeanors

SEA 24 – SF 137 – Farm License Plates

SEA 61 – SF 12 – Trespassing to Collect Data 

SEA 76 – SF 4 – Dry Bean Research 

SEA 77 – SF 9 – Right to Farm 

SEA 67 – SF 51 – Water Development – Amendments 

SEA 69 – SF 55 – Omnibus Water Bill – Planning 

SEA 78 – SF 56 – Study on Transfer of Public Lands

SEA 82 – SF 80 – Trespassing to Collect Data – Civil Cause of Action 

SEA 75 – SF 126 – Water Quality 

SF 133 – Bighorn Sheep Relocation 

SF 134 – Bighorn Sheep Plan 

For more information on these bills and the rest of the bills discussed during the 2015 General Session, visit wyoleg.gov.

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Cheyenne – The 64th Wyoming Legislature is gearing up for 20 days of policy-making activity, beginning Feb. 12. 

The Legislature will convene in a Joint Session of the Wyoming Senate and House of Representatives Feb. 12 at 10 a.m., during the first day of legislative proceedings of the 2018 Budget Session.  

At that time, Gov. Matt Mead will deliver his State of the State message to the Legislature in the Wyoming House of Representatives Chamber at the Jonah Business Center in Cheyenne.

Wyoming PBS will be broadcasting the event live and at governor.wyo.gov. An audio-only broadcast will be available at wyoleg.gov/lsoweb/AudioStream.aspx. 

Following the State of the State, Wyoming Supreme Court Chief Justice E. James Burke will deliver the State of the Judiciary message. 

Generally, the Wyoming Legislature meets beginning at 10 a.m. as a body, adjourning by 5 p.m. Before and after each session, individual committees will meet. 

The mid-session recess of the Wyoming Legislature will be on Feb. 26, and the session is scheduled to conclude by March 9, with March 12-14 available if necessary.

Participating during session

“Wyoming residents are encouraged to use the Wyoming Legislature's website wyoleg.gov to track legislation and participate in policymaking during the 2018 Budget Session,” comments Riana Davidson, Wyoming Associate Legislative Information Officer. “A variety of sources can be found on the site, including all legislation and amendments sponsored by legislative committees and individual members.” 

As the Legislature works through the process, each bill will be posted on the website as soon as the legislation is assigned a bill number. Bills can be tracked by clicking “2018 Bill Tracking Information” on the link on the homepage. 

“In addition, residents can also find information about how their elected officials voted by clicking on the ‘Roll Call Votes on Bills and Amendments’ link,” Davidson says. “The results are posted after each roll call vote is taken on the House and Senate floor.” 

During each day of the session, the public can listen to live audio of the House and Senate proceedings. Audio can be heard on any device that plays audio files. 

“The times and dates of standing committee meetings and House and Senate daily floor schedules are also available on the website,” Davidson explains. “Calendars of floor proceedings in the Senate and House are posted in the late afternoon for the next day’s activities.”

She adds, “Residents can also sign up to receive the committee notices and floor calendars electronically through the Legislature’s GovDelivery subscription service, available on the Legislature’s website.”

Contacting Legislators

Wyomingites can also reach out to their legislators during the session using several different options.

Residents may e-mail their representative using contact information provided on the site, or the “Online Hotline” allows the public to recommend support or opposition for a particular piece of legislation and to leave a comment regarding the bill. 

“The Legislature will launch a new website in April, which will be available and updated concurrently with the existing site during the session,” Davidson says. “The new site can be found through the current homepage for the Wyoming Legislature.” 

“For more information on the legislative website or to report technical problems, contact the Legislative Service Office at 307-777-7881,” she adds. 

Following bills

A number of bills are already available on the Wyoming Legislature’s website, including two bills sponsored by the Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee, three sponsored by the Select Water Committee, the Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources committee and numerous other bills sponsored by individuals. 

As of Feb. 6, 108 House bills, five House Joint Resolutions and 71 Senate Files had been filed with the Legislative Services Office. 

During the course of the session, follow relevant bills to the ag industry each week in the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Interested in a bill and want more information? E-mail This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Saige Albert is managing editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..