The Wyoming Legislature finished the 2022 Budget Session last week. The main tasks of the session were somewhat unique between dealing with the first budget surplus since 2015 and redistricting the legislature. As chairman of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I am also thankful for a very successful year for our committee bills.
The Joint Agriculture Committee produced 7 bills for the budget session. These bills generally delt with improving how the state supports our third largest industry and how to better manage the natural resources the state depends on to drive our economy. I am glad to report all the bills I hoped to pass made it to the governor.
Two bills build upon the strengths of the Weed and Pest and Predator Control programs. Another bill gave the Wyoming Business Council another tool that - at no cost the taxpayer - can be used to improve our ability to process agricultural commodities in the state. Specifically, authorizing agricultural processing facilities to use Industrial Revenue Bonds will allow for these projects to take advantage of underutilized tax breaks. Not only will this new program lead to new jobs in Wyoming, it will give our farmers and ranchers more options to sell their products. The committee also passed a bill that will help the federal government comply with their multiple use mandate regarding their management of wild horses. Finally, we passed a bill that will better define how the state manages vacant grazing leases.
The legislature also approved our biennial budget. This two year budget will expend $2.8 billion in general funds. Overall, the budget we passed reduces government spending by $400 million. This includes appropriations for needed improvements at the Wyoming Law Enforcement Academy.
Finally, we finished the challenging process of redistricting the legislature. Under the plan we passed on to the governor, Platte County will have very different and improved opportunities for representation in the legislature. House District 4 will continue to contain all of Platte County, with the addition of around 300 residents in Chugwater area that live in northwest Laramie County. Platte County will also switch to Senate District 6, which will encompass HD4 plus another rural Laramie County House District.
While I am deeply disappointed to no longer have the opportunity to represent Platte County, I am also thankful for the chance to do so over the past 7 years. I know this county is in good hands and am excited about the prospect of working with a Platte County Senator at some point in the future!
Converse County will have much improved representation in the legislature under this plan. House District 6 will now follow the same lines as Converse County School District #1. A newly created House District 62 will encompass Converse County School District #2, rural eastern Natrona County and the Town of Evansville.
Senate District 2 will be the combination of these districts. I look forward to continuing to work on the issues which are important to central Wyoming. As always, feel free to contact me at email@example.com if you have any questions.