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Pinedale Online > News > February 2024 > Wyoming Legislature update – Feb. 26, 2024
Wyoming Legislature update – Feb. 26, 2024
by Albert Sommers, House District #20 Representative
February 27, 2024

Hello Sublette County, this is Albert Sommers reporting to you from Cheyenne on February 26, the eleventh day of the 2024 Budget Session.

Today we worked amendments to several bills on 2nd Reading, including the following:
HB52- Property tax-homestead exemption is a bill I sponsored that creates a homestead exemption for primary residences. I brought this bill mainly to help seniors on fixed incomes who are particularly impacted by high property taxes. The bill gives property tax relief across the board but adds additional levels of relief for people 65 or older. The bill has been amended heavily, including today with an amendment that would create broader relief rather than more targeted tax relief for seniors. I plan to bring an amendment on third reading that will move up the effective date and make this relief available for 2024.

HB103 reduces the property tax-assessment ratio for residential property taxes from 9.5% to 8.3%, if voters pass a constitutional amendment in the next election. Today an amendment pushed the adjustment out a year to 2025, giving counties and assessors time to make necessary changes as other property tax bills continue to get passed. I support this bill moving forward, but we have to ensure these various property tax bills work together and don’t cause significant harm by reducing support to local government.

HB203 is a property tax bill that has generated long debate. It would have removed property tax for a homeowner whose home is valued less than $1 million by instituting a 2 cent sales tax. This bill would result in 97% of Wyoming residents not having to pay property tax. The bill was amended on 2nd Reading today and now provides less tax relief and less increased sales tax. I do not support this bill, because I believe it will further incentivize out-of-staters to move to our area to take advantage of lower property taxes, which will only increase home prices (and assessed values) in Sublette County.

HB125 would repeal gun free zones. I brought an amendment that would have allowed home rule and local school districts to make the determination who can carry a gun in their schools. I believe in local control and was disappointed to see this amendment fail. However, I will vote for the bill on 3rd Reading. I do believe this bill is more of a compromise than other bills that were similar to it in past sessions.

Tomorrow we will continue to work amendments on 2nd and 3rd Reading. I can be reached at with questions or comments.

Wyoming Legislative update – February 21, 2024Hello Sublette County and LaBarge, this is Albert Sommers reporting to you from Cheyenne on action that occurred on February 21, the eighth day of the 2024 Budget Session. The House worked bills and budget amendments late into the night all week, including Friday, and I couldn’t get my updates out to you good folks. I believe it is important to talk about what happened on 3rd Reading of the Budget.

On support for mental health care, we passed three 3rd Reading amendments, and I supported all of them. Amendment 26 funds a statewide survey from the Department of Education on the status of school district programs on suicide prevention, and a report is required to the Joint Education Committee this August. Amendment 18 gives $250,000 to the University of Wyoming family medical residency practice for counselors for prenatal care for pregnant mothers and veterans’ mental health medication. This little bit helps after a bill that would have provided broader care to those two groups, HB5, died last week. I sponsored Amendment 50, which appropriates $18.5 million of excess K-12 funds for the purpose of mental health grants to local districts. This is an effort to provide more support for children in crisis, until the Legislature reexamines the appropriate number of counselors in the K-12 funding model. This should happen during a Recalibration of the model that will occur in 2025.

The House heard and passed division one of 3rd Reading Amendment 57, which funds a study related to early childhood education. The study is to be completed by the Department of Education. Wyoming ranks at the bottom for providing resources and options to parents for early childhood education. I support additional funding opportunities for early childhood education, and I believe studying the topic is a good idea. I do not support compulsory universal early childhood education, as I believe that Pre-K education is a decision for parents to make, not the State of Wyoming to require.

3rd Reading Amendment 30 passed. This amendment to the budget bill restored various capitol construction projects that were voted down last week. The projects included major facility maintenance at the Boys School, Riverton state office renovations, and facility work at Camp Guernsey for our National Guard. We had a great debate on whether state capital construction is an ordinary expense of government. The Wyoming Constitution allows the budget bill to cover only the ordinary expense of government and public schools. I believe that routine replacement of state funded buildings is an ordinary expense of government, and I supported the amendment.

In my opinion, the Legislature is the first bulwark to defend the Wyoming and US Constitution, and I believe those debates are healthy.

Amendment 46 would have reduced the money allocated for large energy project funds, but this amendment failed. The Governor’s office uses these dollars as matching funds for large energy projects. I believe these projects are important to keep Wyoming an energy leader in the country, and I voted against the amendment, in order to keep the original budget amount.

The House heard 3rd Reading Amendments related to the Kelly Parcel, a piece of state-owned land within the boundaries of Grand Teton National Park. The draft budget includes the sale of the Kelly Parcel to the National Park Service for $100 million. Currently, the state receives limited returns on the parcel, about $2,800 a year.

There was important debate on the floor and two amendments passed placing conditions on the property sale. I sponsored Amendment 86, which passed, and requires that livestock grazing and hunting use be preserved in perpetuity on the parcel as a condition of the sale.

Another important condition we placed on the sale was through Amendment 76, which links the sale of the Kelly Parcel to the US Bureau of Land Management’s Rock Springs Resource Management Plan (RMP) revision. This amendment conditions the Kelly Parcel sale on the Bureau of Land Management not selecting Alternative B with respect to rights of way and fluid mineral leasing. Essentially, this amendment gives the Governor the authority to negotiate with the Federal government from a position of equal footing. Each party in the negotiation has something the other wants. The Kelly Parcel sale only happens if the Governor chooses to allow it. I spoke in favor of this amendment.

The Governor needs this arrow in his quiver while he is negotiating with the Department of Interior on the fate of the Rock Springs RMP. A favorable outcome on the Rock Springs RMP is essential to the economy and culture of Southwest Wyoming. Protecting a billion dollars’ worth of economic activity in that part of the state, preserving the traditional uses of grazing and hunting on the Kelly Parcel, preventing the encroachment of million dollar homes near Grand Teton National Park, and raising $100 million for education would make this sale worthwhile.

I can be reached at with questions or comments.

Pinedale Online > News > February 2024 > Wyoming Legislature update – Feb. 26, 2024

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