Wyoming Legislative Update – Feb. 22, 2013
by Representative Albert Sommers, House District 20
February 22, 2013
Hello Sublette County this is Albert Sommers reporting to you from the capital. On Friday, we passed several bills out of the House, including Senate Files 29 and 86. SF29 is a bill which legalizes hitchhiking in the state of Wyoming, and simply recognizes a common practice occurring in the state. SF86 is a bill which gives county commissions the authority to determine vacation days for county employees, and also puts in statute a common practice. Different counties have different days which are important to those counties when establishing vacation days, and this bill was widely supported by county commissioners.
Senate File 60, Medicaid reform moved through second reading in House on Friday, and has seen multiple amendments and attempted amendments. This bill attempts to create efficiencies in our current system, and will examine a managed care approach to Medicaid. One amendment in second reading would have turned the bill into Medicaid expansion, but that amendment failed. I voted against the Medicaid expansion amendment because the uncertainties of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), coupled with the insolvency of the federal government, gives me pause. The Wyoming Department of Health maintains that the state of Wyoming could save approximately 47 million dollars through 2020 if we participate in the federal Medicaid expansion program. They further state that expansion would decrease the number of uninsured Wyoming residents, currently around 83,000 people, and would also decrease the amount of uncompensated care that hospitals experience each year, which currently is around 200 million dollars annually. We have passed a couple of healthcare bills this session which will take a critical look at provisions of the Affordable Care Act, and the results of that analysis will help Wyoming navigate the federal system. In the end, I believe Wyoming will choose to participate in Medicaid expansion, but I believe more careful examination is needed before we jump on board.
Senate Files 118 and 136 passed committee of the whole on Friday, and SF118 was the eminent domain bill which would give landowners more equal footing in condemnation cases. I explained the basic premise of the bill in my last update, and I do not believe this bill will adversely affect those entities who have acted as good neighbors in the past. SF 136 is a bill which requires a higher bonding requirement for seismic operators, and is mostly a cleanup from previous legislation, which had remained silent on seismic operations. This bill recognizes that seismic operators can have significant impacts to landowners, and that bonding requirements should reflect that fact. I voted for both of these bills and believe they support private property rights, and yet will not impede commerce.
The two prominent gun bills, House Bills 103 & 104, died in the Senate without reaching the floor. The e-mails and correspondence to Senators regarding these bills had got so threatening that leadership decided not to bring the bills up for a vote.