Wyoming Legislature update Feb. 1 & 2, 2019
by Albert Sommers, House District #20 Representative
February 2, 2019
Saturday, February 2, 2019
Hello Sublette County, this is Albert Sommers reporting to you on Saturday the 2nd. Last week was extremely intense, and I was in committee meetings beyond 10:30PM on three nights. The House and the Senate finished work on the mirror budget bills Thursday. Remember, each chamber of the Legislature works the same version of the supplemental budget bill simultaneously. Now that we have completed this task, a conference committee will be appointed by both chambers to hammer out the differences in each bodys budget bill. There are substantial differences, and the debates will be lively as each chamber protects its positions. I thought I would take this weekend opportunity to seek your comments on a few bills we are likely to hear on Monday in Committee of the Whole. Monday is the last day that House bills will be heard in House Committee of the Whole. Crossover begins on Tuesday, and we will then be hearing Senate Files, and the Senate will start debating House bills.
Below is a list of the more controversial bills we may hear on Monday. Please provide me feedback.
HB0103 This bill changes the reporting requirements for abortions, and would include requiring the race, ethnicity, and marital status of the pregnant women. Further, it would impose a substantial fine for failure of the doctor to meet the reporting requirements. This bill seems extremely onerous, and the inclusion of race and ethnicity is problematic.
HB0106 This bill would alter the date when a citizen can change his party affiliation prior to a primary election. Currently, citizens can change their party affiliation at the polls on the day of the primary. This bill would require citizens to declare their party by May 1st of the year the primary is held on. I have concerns about this bill. In this great country, the citizens still get to choose their party, the party does not get to choose who can enroll.
HB0230 This bill would make it illegal for an employer to discriminate against an employee or potential employee based upon their gender identity or sexual orientation. However, this bill would exempt religious entities from having to comply with this law.
HB0282 This bill would tax cigarettes an additional 50 cents per pack, and would tax vaping material the same as cigars and dry snuff. I support this bill, as it would bring vapes into the tax system. Vapes usage has become an epidemic in our schools.
HB0284 This bill would legalize certain video gaming devises that currently exist in bars across Wyoming and in Sublette County. The Wyoming Attorney General issued an opinion that these devices were gambling devices and not games of skill. This bill is designed to legalize these devices much like the pari-mutuel historic horse racing machines were legalized several years ago. The bill would only allow two machines per bar, and would limit the maximum prize to $1500. Counties and towns would have the ability to prohibit these machines by simply passing a resolution. Bar owners around the county have called me asking me to support the bill, and residents have emailed me in opposition to the bill. The pari-mutuel organizations dont like this bill, because it eliminates their monopoly on gambling devices in most counties. This bill seems like a good compromise, but I do not like the fact that the Lottery Commission would be the regulating agency. I have never supported gambling bills, but you can gamble on your smart phone. I think Wyoming needs to figure out how to regulate gambling in better way than we do currently.
HB0293 This bill would create a funding mechanism for the University of Wyoming to replace their student dorms, which are 40-50 years old. The bill expands their bonding capacity through a shifting of revenue sources and a loan from our Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account. This project will likely cost between $250-300 million for the first 2,000 beds.
HB0308 This bill would shift different revenue streams towards education to help solve the education funding deficit. This bill has no new taxes, and I am a co-sponsor.
Friday, February 1, 2019
Hello Sublette County,
This is Albert Sommers in Cheyenne. This week has been one of late nights and early mornings. Today was no exception. The House worked through the morning to complete 2nd and 3rd reading, as well as several bills on general file.
The afternoon was dominated by 3rd reading on the budget. There were 66 amendments filed for 3rd reading.
33 were adopted
17 were withdrawn
On 2nd reading today, the House considered and passed 19 bills:
HB0189 Wide load restrictions agriculture
HB0093 Tourism improvement districts
HB0140 - Abortion-48 hour waiting period
HB0145 Death penalty repeal
These last two bills were heavily debated in Committee of the Whole.
Ten bills were considered in the House on 3rd reading. All ten bills were sent to the Senate for consideration and 1 bill failed. Bills passing included these I supported:
HB0133 Hathaway expand Wyoming Scholarship
HB0147 K-2 foreign language requirement
HB0191 Drivers licenses medical alert designation
HB0207 Business licensing fees 2 This bill would modestly increase business filing fees.
The Committee of the Whole has considered 7 bills today. Six bills passed and one failed. Bills moving forward to 2nd Reading which I supported include:
HB0169 Lifetime fishing licenses for permanently disabled persons.
HB0170 Child protective service workers-training.
HB0134 Livestock brands-amendments.
This is a bill I have sponsored requiring a longer delinquency period before a brand is considered abandoned.
HB0051 - Lawful fence standards-county preemption failed to pass Committee of the Whole on a vote of 16-41-3. This bill would have forbidden any county from setting a fence standard different than what is outlined in state statute. I voted against this bill. Agriculture was exempted from the bill, but the bill would have usurped local control, which is why I voted against it.
Details about every bill are to be found at https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019
I can be reached at email@example.com with questions or concerns.