Northern Wyoming Daily News - Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

By Karla Pomeroy
Editor 

Karla's Kolumn

Legislature moving quickly; impacting lives of citizens

 

February 13, 2016



The 2016 Budget Session for the Wyoming Legislature opened Monday and with a 20-day session things move quickly so it’s important for citizens to pay attention.

There have been 158 House Bills filed and 11 House Joint Resolutions, along with 104 Senate Files and four Senate Joint Resolutions. That’s a lot of legislation that if approved could impact some aspect of your life and my life.

Granted, not all of those will be approved, in fact about 40 failed introduction already with Friday the final day for introduction. In a budget session, non-budget bills require two-thirds vote for introduction.

Some bills won’t make it out of committee, others won’t make it out of the house of origin, and still others will die in the other house.

Sometimes when a bill fails, it’s a bad thing, other times, it’s a good thing. In my years covering the Legislature, our own Sen. Gerald Geis always says if the bill is a good bill it will be back. If it’s not, then it’s a good thing it died.

This year’s budget session is important as it sets a tone for coming years as Wyoming likely will have to tighten its belt even further with oil prices continuing to drop and more coal mines shutting down.

When the state tightens its budget that’s where you and I can begin feeling it in the services that we use.

But during lean times, it’s also a way of finding out where, if any, the “fat” is in departments and programs. It’s a time to find out what services are essential for the residents and which are merely nice to offer in times of prosperity.

But in addition to the budget the Legislature is handling a number of issues. Several bills regarding marijuana have failed introduction.

Rep. Mike Greear has introduced a bill to increase the vehicle weight limit from 26,000 pounds to 39,000 pounds in regard to enhanced speeding penalties.

One bill I’m rooting for, but that usually fails, is House Bill 55 that would exempt Wyoming from using daylight saving time, much like several other states including Arizona already do.

The bill to raise Wyoming’s minimum wage to $9.50 failed introduction by a considerable margin, 9-49-2.

Our cities, towns and counties will be watching House Bill 51 regarding distributions to cities, towns and counties. The current amount is $90 million but that can be increased or reduced as the session moves along. This will directly impact local services.

There are bills on sales tax exemptions, gun free zones, alcohol, Game and Fish issues, Hathaway scholarships and much more. There are feel good resolutions, including House Joint Resolution recognizing the contributions of Kenny Sailors to the game of basketball and encouraging his election to the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame.

Some bills have an impact on only a small sector of people, while others have far more reaching impact. Either way somewhere along the line your life likely will be impacted and it’s important for you to be informed and know what the Legislature is doing and how their actions will impact your life. 

We here at the Daily News will continue to report on activities in the Legislature, but with more than 250 pieces of legislation, we can’t report on them all. So there are a variety of ways to check out what the Legislature is doing. Check out the website at legisweb.state.wy.us to find out how you could be impacted.

 
 

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