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Pinedale Online > News > February 2023 > Wyoming Legislature update – February 2 & 3, 2023
Wyoming Legislature update – February 2 & 3, 2023
by Albert Sommers, House District #20 Representative
February 5, 2023

Hello Sublette County and LaBarge, this is Albert Sommers reporting to you on February 3, the 18th day of the General Session of the 67th Legislature. The House spent most of the day working through 3rd Reading budget amendments on HB001. The budget passed the House. The Senate also passed its version of the budget bill.

This supplemental budget focuses on saving, investing, and meeting the needs of Wyoming people. Due to improved revenues from oil and gas production, smart investments, and federal stimulus money, we saw an unexpected one-time surplus in money. Much of the House floor debate focused on allocating these funds.

A few key takeaways from the budget bill that passed the House are:
- An adjustment to the Medicaid reimbursement rate for our Wyoming dentists who provide critical dental health services to 40,000 children and senior citizens in the state;
- The House restored funding that was cut in 2021 to critical service providers in our communities who care for Wyoming citizens who have developmental, intellectual disabilities or acquired brain injuries;
- Appropriated $5 million to fund the property tax refund program fully;
- Created an ombudsman position in the Department of Environmental Quality to enhance the ability and timeliness for industrial permitting processes. This will help Wyoming remain competitive with surrounding states with new and growing industry projects;
- The House added funding to assist with retaining and recruiting state agency employees. We heard testimony that WYDOT has a 28 percent vacancy rate in the highway patrol due to uncompetitive salaries. Half of CNA and nursing positions are vacant at the State hospital in Evanston. Current provisions in the budget increase state employee compensation to their 2013 levels (considering adjustments for inflation);
- The House continued to focus on funding trust funds as a savings mechanism and utilizing the interest income to make our communities more livable, develop Wyoming’s workforce, and enhance the state’s wildlife.
- The House put $300 million into permanent, inviolate savings while putting to work another $521 million into reserve account savings.

The supplemental budget bill is good fiscal policy that sets the stage for a more prosperous future while protecting the state against Wyoming's rocky revenue streams. It is important to note that the work today is a proposal that addresses the realities and challenges Wyoming people are facing. Although it would be easier to bury our heads in the sand, this measure represents a courageous effort to face reality head-on. The House is delivering for both today’s Wyoming citizens and future generations.

Next week, designated members from the House and Senate will meet in a Joint Conference Committee to hash out differences on the budget bill.

Monday will be the last day for bills in Committee of the Whole in the house of origin.

Hello Sublette County and LaBarge, this is Albert Sommers reporting to you on February 2, the 17th day of the General Session of the 67th Legislature. It was a busy day working through 3rd Reading and Committee of the Whole.

We heard bills on 3rd Reading. Several of these bills had amendments, and I will highlight two.
HB0103 passed the House on 3rd Reading. This bill changed the date voters must declare or change their party affiliation to May 15. I believe a voter should have to declare their political party before the day of the primary, but I disagreed on the number of days it should be. I brought an amendment to change the requirement to 14 days before the election. This amendment would have allowed voters, specifically those unaffiliated with a major political party, to participate more freely in a primary. This amendment failed. Despite my disagreement with the extended number of days, choosing a party affiliation before election day is important, and I voted for this bill based upon my constituents’ concerns relayed to me during the campaign.

HB0124 also passed the House on 3rd Reading. As I mentioned yesterday, this bill solves an equity issue by bringing an excise tax to solar electrical generation just like it currently exists for wind. Two amendments were heard but failed. One would have added hydroelectrical generation and the second amendment would have changed the assessed tax from $1.00 a megawatt hour to a percentage assessed on the annual gross energy earnings. I opposed these amendments.

We also worked diligently through the Committee of the Whole list.

HB180 - Brucellosis testing-notification requirements, passed Committee of the Whole. This bill specifies how to deal with a non-negative Brucellosis test in Wyoming. A non-negative test is not decisively positive, and requires further examination. The bill specifically requires the establishment of a standard communication protocol to inform all livestock producers, veterinarians and brand inspectors in the county where a non-negative brucellosis test has been confirmed in a cattle herd. The bill also requires the state veterinarian to provide testing information to the owner of an animal that has tested non-negative for brucellosis no later than three days after laboratory confirmation. I drafted and supported this bill.

HB0123 - Collection of antler or horns by residents and nonresidents This bill allows residents to collect antlers and horns three days before nonresidents in areas of the State that have a designated season. This bill is in response to the growing influx of nonresidents collecting and selling antlers and horns and instead gives Wyoming residents a slight preference to the resource. HB180 and HB123 were bills that I drafted and handed off to new members of the House.

I can be reached at with questions or comments. Thank you.

Pinedale Online > News > February 2023 > Wyoming Legislature update – February 2 & 3, 2023

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