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Pinedale Online > News > February 2018 > Wyoming Legislature updates
Wyoming Legislature updates
by Albert Sommers, House District #20 Representative
February 24, 2018

Friday, February 23, 2018
Hello Sublette County, this is Albert Sommers reporting to you from Cheyenne on Friday, at the end of the second week of the legislature. More bills were discussed today in second reading.

HB06 made State information and research on big game animals and their locations confidential. This passed today under second reading.

HB31 extended the deadline for the Hathaway Scholarship, the primary financial support Wyoming students can get while attending college. HB153 expanded the Hathaway Scholarship to create opportunities for some out-of-state students attending college in Wyoming to also receive some financial support. Both bills passed second reading today.

My bill, HJ05, also passed second reading. HJ05 asks for the creation of a wildlife conservation fee for people visiting Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone receives an extremely large number of visitors every year, so a fee like this would greatly support wildlife management and conservation efforts in the three states bordering the Park. This bill must pass one final vote in the house next week. It received mention today in a New York Times opinion piece about wildlife migration in the West:

HB157 deals with sexual offenses by healthcare providers. It authorizes the Board of Nursing to take disciplinary action against any nurse guilty of sexual misconduct. It also requires other health licensing boards to review their existing rules on sexual offenses by health care providers and asks them to make changes, if necessary. This bill passed its second reading today.

We finished third and final reading of the budget bill in the House at about 8:30 Friday night. Over 100 amendments were brought forward between second and third reading. This is the opportunity for the members of the body to evaluate and propose changes to the budget that my Appropriations Committee developed. The biggest changes made by the House were the addition of $7.5 million for those who provide services to the developmentally disabled, and $2 million for suicide prevention. I was a co-sponsor of a bill to help fund suicide prevention, and I supported this budget amendment, even though it is my job on the Appropriations Committee to support the budget as recommended. We began the session with a budget that had increased funding to the Department of Health and Department of Family Services by $90 million. Appropriations decided that in the last two years, we had made cuts that had gone too far. The floor of the House added at least $10 million more to these departments, which shows the community support to provide such services. We will now have to reconcile differences between the House and Senate on the Budget Bill. The long term question is: how are we going to pay for this?

The House will not be in session on Monday, but will resume on Tuesday and will remain in session for at least two more weeks.

I can be reached at

Thank you.

Thursday, February 22, 2018
Hello Sublette County, this is Albert Sommers reporting to you from Cheyenne. Today, we took a break from the budget bill, and continued to hear bills in Committee of the Whole. Bills that were heard and passed COW cover issues such as adding computer science to the common core of skill, altering the move-over requirement on our highways, extraterritorial jurisdiction of cities and towns, expanding the Hathaway scholarship to a few select out-of-state students, preventing non-compete clauses for new physicians, K12 capital construction and major maintenance, setting aside $10 million per year for future construction of a new penitentiary, requiring the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission to pay for the evaluation of instream flow considerations, privacy of genetic information, expungement of juvenile records, and much more. In fact we heard 65 bills today in Committee of the Whole.

HB186, brought by the Speaker of the House, is designed to further define the spending policy for income from our Permanent Mineral Trust Fund. We now have enough in the reserve account of this permanent fund to guarantee more of its revenue for use. This will allow us to secure funding for half of our K12 school major maintenance and capital construction – without raising anyone’s taxes. This was patterned off the Harvard Endowment Fund. I support this philosophy; we need to trust our trust funds, and modernize our revenue flows.

Two controversial bills are HB141, allowing guns in a place of worship, and HB168, Stand Your Ground. Both bills have raised concerns back home. Are these bills needed, or are they a solution looking for a problem? Let me know your thoughts.

HB133 would require public entities to place the motto "In God We Trust" inside their buildings, and in fact inside every school room in Wyoming. The bill was improved today by an amendment, which passed, not requiring entities to post the motto, but simply allowing them to. The original bill seemed to be far too prescriptive. The bill moved to second reading.

I voted against HB20, which would have given the Legislature some authority over the development of Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) related to endangered species. This was a committee bill that I tried to improve with an amendment, but in the end I voted against it. The bill died in Committee of the Whole.

I can be reached at

Thank you.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Hello Sublette County, this is Albert Sommers reporting to you from Cheyenne and the 2018 Budget Session.

Today the House focused on amendments to the budget bill, HB1, as part of its Second Reading. Numerous amendments have been proposed for the budget, and discussion and voting on these amendments will likely continue for most of tomorrow.

Many amendments considered today received extended discussion. Amendments 14 and 46 both dealt with the funding of water projects and the State Engineer’s Office. Amendment 14 attempted to remove a provision that funded staff within the State Engineer’s Office who are dedicated to water issues. This amendment failed. Amendment 46 attempted to bring funding for the State Engineer’s Office from the general fund, rather than from a specific budget account for water. This amendment also failed.

Amendment 16 was also discussed extensively. This amendment called for selling one of the two state airplanes. These aircraft are used for a variety of reasons, including transportation of private citizens who volunteer in state government or are involved in other important ways. Providing efficient transportation for these citizens and allowing them to participate in Wyoming’s government is an important use of these aircraft. The amendment failed after discussion.

A few major amendments regarding healthcare and public health came up near the end of the day. Amendment 19 attempted to strike some funding for the State’s Palliative Care Council. This council is dedicated to improving end-of-life healthcare for Wyoming citizens, and many other important end-of-life medical issues. The amendment was withdrawn.

Next, Amendment 60 attempted to restore funding in three major areas within the State Department of Health. These programs related to disabled employees, outdoor advertising of infectious disease, and support for families caring for disabled children. The three issues were divided and voted on separately.

My job as a member of the Appropriations Committee is to protect the budget, and basically argue against every amendment. I will sometimes vote against our committee position, but rarely.

I can be reached at

Thank you.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018
Hello Sublette County, this is Albert Sommers reporting to you from Cheyenne and the 2018 Budget Session.

The House started the day with the discussion and passage of several amendments pertaining to the governing rules of the legislative body.

Following the passage of several amendments to its rules, the House moved into the Third Reading of select House Bills. With no debate, a set of three bills were passed by the House. The set included HB76 and HB88 from the Joint Appropriations Committee. HB76 deals with the transfer of the state supplemental security income program from the Department of Family Services to the Department of Health. HB88 provides for an operations division to the State Construction Department and the budget standards required for that division. The third bill in the set was HB126, dealing with limited liability companies established as a series of members, managers, or transferable interests. I voted for all of these bills except HB126. This bill is hard to understand, and frankly seems like an avenue for nefarious business.

HB08, regarding stalking revisions, was read for the third time with two amendments brought forth. The amendments provided for more specific wording, to clarify that claims to address stalking must be made by a "reasonable" person and that the fear described in the bill can only qualify if it is deemed to be "substantial." Both of these amendments were eventually adopted after discussion and testimony from those in favor and opposed to the amendments. HB08 then went to a final vote and was passed by the House. I supported the bill.

This afternoon also saw the continuation of the initial reading and debate of the budget bill, HB01, in Committee of the Whole. Following the First Reading, the bill will be open for amendments and discussion in the Second and Third Readings.

The broadband grant bill made it through the Senate Minerals Committee, and still needs some work. I appreciate the Sublette County Commissioners and our towns for their support in this effort. High speed, high quality, reasonably priced broadband is essential for a community to remain economically relevant in today’s landscape.

I can be reached at

Thank you

Pinedale Online > News > February 2018 > Wyoming Legislature updates

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