The Final Stretch
As we near the finish line of the 2022 Legislative Budget Session there is still plenty of work to do. Week 3 has been busy working the budget and redistricting in addition to moving many House bills through the process.
This week the Senate passed the redistricting bill – HB100. Every ten years the State is required to redraw the state’s legislative districts based on population changes. The Senate received the House version of the bill that passed with a few amendments during the first week of the Session. That bill version expanded representation in the House by three members – taking the House from 60 members to 62 members and the Senate from 30 members to 31. After hearing and working the House bill, the Senate made additional amendments, the most notable was keeping the legislature at the same number of members, 60 in the House and 30 in the Senate.
The bill now goes back to the House for a vote. If it is not passed, it will trigger a conference committee with three Representatives and three Senators. This committee will be tasked with addressing the major differences between the two versions and will bring a new map for each chamber to vote on.
The Senate and House have passed their own versions of the budget bills. We ended with a budget that is dollar-for-dollar ten percent lower than a full decade ago – and that’s not considering inflation. Funding for education remained essentially flat for the school year 2022 and school year 2023. A conference committee is slated to meet to bring the Senate and House versions together and send the bill off to the Governor.
On Wednesday of last week, we took a pause from the normal work of the Senate to pass a joint resolution with our House counterparts to honor fallen Marine Lance Cpl. Rylee McCollum and 21 other military members who have lost their lives since September 11, 2001. It was a touching commemoration and a stark reminder of the incredible sacrifices our men and women in uniform make for our freedom.
A few highlights from the week include:
SF84: This bill failed in the House Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee and will be considered for an interim topic.
This bill aimed to keep Wyoming fossil fuel producers working in the State. The bill comes as reports swirl about the U.S. Bureau of Land Management considering raising the oil and gas royalty tax rate from the current 12.5% to over 18% on minerals extracted on federal lands. While I appreciate we have time before this change goes into effect, it is vital the legislature eventually makes a decision which provides stability to our core industries.
SF86: This legislation passed out of the Travel Committee and is placed on the House General File to be worked this week.
I sponsored this bill that would exempt activities relating to wildfire suppression from the Wyoming Underground Facilities Notification Act. This bill requires an excavator to call in advance before digging, but if this bill passes, wildfire suppression efforts would not have to call. This common sense bill is needed to ensure our firefighters have adequate legal protection as they protect life and safety this fire season.
HB04: This bill received strong support in the Senate passing unanimously. It now heads back to the House for Concurrence. This bill outlines the requirements for securing a permit for watering livestock on federal land. This bill makes it clear the State of Wyoming is in charge of our own water on federal land and ensures such water will always be put to beneficial use.