Our face-to-face session began March 1, 2021. As usual, the commute to Cheyenne was sketchy; I battled snow and crazy wind. The first two weeks of weather was beautiful; in fact, the week of March 1 the temperatures were in the 60s. The week of March 8 cooled down and of course, the weekend brought us the storm of the century with snow accumulation of over 2 feet (at the writing of this). Session was cancelled on March 15 due to hazardous weather conditions.
Bills of importance of the last two weeks were:
- HB 14 – Rights of Way along Public Ways: This bill allows for expansion of broadband infrastructure – this bill moved past the House and was introduced into the Senate.
- HB 16 – Improvement and Service Districts Limitations: This bill is of particular importance to Sublette County and will be discussed in committee this week.
- HB 26 – Fuel Tax: This would add 9 cents to support road maintenance and snow plowing – it made it out of committee and will begin its journey through the House.
- HB 28 and HB 94 – Wind Tax Exemption Repeal/Solar Electricity Generation-taxation: These were taxes on wind and solar energy that did not make it out of committee.
- HB 51 and 54 – Meat Processing Programs & Wyoming Meat Packing Initiative: This is an attempt to allow local ranchers access to local process plants. HB 51 was referred back to the Appropriations Committee. HB 54 moved on to the Senate.
- HB 70 – Abortion Informed Consent: This is one of three abortion that will be discussed in Labor, Health and Social Services Committee this week.
- HB 74 – Elected Officials Removal: This was an attempt to create a political mechanism to remove mayors and town councilmen/women – this failed in committee.
- HB 75 – Voter Identification: This passed the House and moved on to the Senate. This bill will cost the taxpayers money to address an issue that the assessors in the state were against because there have been no voter fraud cases and it will add expense and time.
- HB 88 and HB 139 – Data Center Tax Exemptions/Repeal & Rolling Stock Tax Exemption Sunset Extension: These are sales tax exemptions that were scheduled to “sunset” this year. These bills ensured that the tax exemption status will remain. In my opinion, we have given these businesses a tax exemption status to allow them a good start for 10 years or more, but with our given revenue situation we should not be allowing ongoing tax exemptions. There is a fear that by instituting these exemptions, these businesses will leave Wyoming. My research does not support this opinion.
- HB 91 – Removal of Unenforceable Property Covenants: This was an interesting bill that removed antiquated covenants which can no longer be enforced by law – many of them included racial discrimination. This bill was brought forth by realtors.
- HB 95 – Game Road Kill: This allows for collection of ungulate road kill. This moved past the House to the Senate. This was an interesting discussion!
- HB 98 – Public Heath Orders-Reforms: This bill has received a lot of press. It was referred to the Corporations Committee, of which I am part, so I will report out on this next week.
- HB 99 – Property Tax Increase Limit: With an increase in real estate values across the state, this will put a limit on how much your property can increase in one year. This bill will begin its journey through the House.
- HB 101– Elk Feedground Closings-Requirements: This allows the governor to have input into closing feedgrounds managed by Wyoming Game and Fish.
- HB 102 – Elk Feedground Closings-Requirements: It will shorten the residency requirement for workers’ public works projects and it will allow nonresidents to work on state public works projects for nine months. This made it past the House and has moved on to the Senate.
- HB 103 – Journalists-Privileged-Communications: This guarantees that journalists cannot be required to reveal their sources and cannot be held in contempt. This made it through the House and had moved on to the Senate.
- HB 124 – Second Amendment Preservation Act-2: This bill has sparked a lot of opposition from law enforcement – this bill was referred to the Appropriations Committee.
- HB 128 – County Option Real Estate Transfer Tax: With real estate values skyrocketing in Teton County, with sales well over a billion dollars, this bill was an attempt to establish a real estate tax for houses that sell for over a billion dollars. This bill would have instituted a 1-percent tax on these house sales. This money would have gone to those counties.
- HB 133 – Online Sports Wagering: In a closely contested vote, this bill will regulate online sports betting. This bill passed the House and moves on to the Senate.
- HB 138 – Tax on Unearned Income: This bill moved on to the Revenue Committee of which I am a part, so I will report on this when it is heard.
- HB 141 – Transfer of Federal Lands: This bill failed in the House.
- HB 164 – Grand Teton National Park, Transfer of State Lands: This authorizes the sale of a parcel adjacent to Grand Teton National Park. This bill made it past committee and will make its journey through the House.
- HB175 – Suicide Prevention-2: This is the second suicide prevention bill aimed at school-aged students. It was referred to the Education Committee.
- HB 176 – Digital Streaming Tax: This is a tax on streaming services. It passed through committee and will begin its journey through the House.
- HB 182 – Personal Income Tax: This was referred to the Revenue Committee. I will report on this as it is presented.
- HB 209 – Regulation of Marijuana: This bill has been referred to Judiciary.
- HB 228 – Highway Closure-violation amendment: This is my bill, which provides for better enforcement of drivers violating road closure signs. This bill made it out of committee and will begin its journey through the House.
While we did address all of these bills, the majority of our time was dedicated to addressing the budget bill and its amendments. Rep. Sommers did a great job of managing this process and also managing the Recalibration Bill for school funding.
Stay well and stay safe!
Rep. Jim Roscoe, HD 22