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Pinedale Online > News > February 2022 > Wyoming Legislature updates – Feb. 24 & 25, 2022
Wyoming Legislature updates – Feb. 24 & 25, 2022
by Albert Sommers, House District #20 Representative
February 27, 2022

Hello Sublette County, this is Albert Sommers reporting to you from Cheyenne on February 24. We spent the majority of the day debating 30 bills in Committee of the Whole. On Friday, we will debate 3rd Reading amendments to the Budget Bill.

Among the interesting bills on 3rd Reading today, HB0047 - local impact assistance payments, passed the House. If you recall from my last press release, this bill consists of a three-tiered approach to avoid overcompensating local governments for the impacts created by large industrial facilities. Various tiers and the maximum allowable percentage of funds are awarded dependent on the size and cost of the project. I did not support this bill on 3rd reading, because counties are worried they will not be adequately compensated for impacts created by large industrial projects like wind farms.

Bills that passed Committee of the Whole today include HB0063 - county and district attorneys - salary amendments; HB0091 - County officers-salaries; and HB0096 - state officials salary, which are all similar to each other. HB63 and HB91 will promote local control and give county commissioners the power to increase salaries for county officials, such as county attorneys, sheriffs, assessor, treasurer and clerk. Locally elected county commissioners are best suited to make these decisions. Many of these county attorneys have not seen a salary bump since 2011. HB96 would provide a $30,000+ increase to the Governor, Secretary of State, Treasurer, Auditor, and Superintendent of Public Instruction. These elected officials have not seen a raise since 2002. I voted in favor of these bills.

HB0031 - Wyoming’s tomorrow scholarship program, passed Committee of the Whole. This is an adult scholarship program. Most states have similar initiatives. This concept is widely supported by industries in Wyoming, as the bill promotes workforce development. It establishes an endowment, but does not fund the endowment. I support this bill.

HB0027 - Visitation rights, passed Committee of the Whole. This bill was heavily amended in committee and debated heavily on the floor. It is attempting to address the problem that occurred during COVID, when family members could not visit loved ones in nursing homes and hospitals. The amendment tried to thread the needle between public safety and the rights of families. The amendment passed, and I supported this bill.

I can be reached at with questions or concerns.

Hello Sublette County, this is Albert Sommers reporting to you from Cheyenne on February 25. Today, we heard bills on 2nd Reading and voted on bills in 3rd Reading. The majority of the day was spent debating 3rd Reading budget amendments to HB0001 - General government appropriations-2.

Interesting bills discussed in Committee of the Whole included HB0136 - underground water contested case hearings. This bill requires that in contested hearings, the petitioner in the case has the burden of proof in their claim to the water. This bill passed Committee of the Whole, with my support.

A highly debated and controversial bill that passed Committee of the Whole today is HB0085 -child endangering - controlled substance use while pregnant. This bill holds that any pregnant mother who knowingly consumes methamphetamine or any other narcotic drug will be charged with a felony for child endangerment. Many worried that this will not limit drug consumption by these women, but will have the unintended consequence of women choosing not to receive prenatal and other medical care for fear of going to jail. This bill passed Committee of the Whole.

In the last couple of days, two of my bills, HB0015 - Political subdivision club liquor licenses, and HB0072 - Hunting license application funds, passed Committee of the Whole with little opposition.

During 2nd and 3rd Readings of the Budget Bill on Wednesday and Friday, the House debated 103 proposed amendments to the budget. I passed one 3rd Reading budget amendment and one 2nd Reading amendment. During 2nd Reading on Wednesday, I passed HB0001H2028, an amendment providing the University of Wyoming (UW) with more flexibility in how it spends matching dollars in the Ranch and Rangeland Management program. I worked with the Joint Appropriations Committee to appropriate $2.5 million, which will be matched by the University, in support of excellence in research, education and extension in ranch and rangeland management.

During 3rd Reading of the budget on Friday, I passed HB0001H3027, an amendment that appropriates $400,000 for purposes of funding up to 50 percent of the costs of any at-will contract positions within the state forestry division hired to conduct good neighbor authority projects, or other federally funded cooperative forest management projects funded through the Wyoming state forestry good neighbor authority program. This amendment was a priority for Sublette County, as its forest collaborative seeks to establish forest management projects in the Bridger-Teton Forest.

During 3rd Reading, I failed to pass HB0001H3026, which would have given K12 teachers a one-time 3 percent salary bonus. The original HB1 had a 5 percent salary increase for state workers, including UW and community college employees. The House passed an amendment on 2nd Reading, HB0001H2044, that increased the salaries of these state workers another 1.7 percent. However, members of the House repeatedly rejected all efforts to raise the salary of K12 teachers, because they felt an infusion of federal money would allow for districts to provide bonuses to teachers. If we are going to give all state employees salary increases, then we should have supported teachers with a small salary increase, or a one-time bonus.

Several 3rd Reading amendments were defeated for procedural reasons. They were attempting to legislate in the budget bill, which in essence violates the Constitution. The Wyoming Constitution, Article 3 Section 20 states, "No law shall be passed except by bill, and no bill shall be so altered or amended on its passage through either house as to change its original purpose."

Article 3 Section 34 states that general appropriation bills shall embrace nothing but appropriations for the ordinary expenses of government. The Budget Bill passed on 3rd Reading with my support.

I can be reached at with questions or comments.

Pinedale Online > News > February 2022 > Wyoming Legislature updates – Feb. 24 & 25, 2022

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