Legislative Update – March 26, 29


Hello Sublette County, this is Albert Sommers reporting to you from Cheyenne on March 26, 2021. Today, the House passed several interim committee bills on third reading that I supported, including SF0023, Public Meetings - Executive Sessions for Security Plans, that allows the governing body of local government to hold executive sessions to discuss safety and security planning that, if disclosed, would pose a threat to the safety of life or property.

The House debated 13 Senate files in Committee of the Whole (COW). Those that I supported included SF0106 and SF0107. These two bills were brought to clean up some language in the transportation statutes and provided no major policy decisions. Much of our legislative work involves mundane tweaks to statute.

SF0096, Homicide Amendments, would charge a person for two homicides if the perpetrator had killed a mother and her unborn child. SF0115, Education - Pupil Teacher Contact Time, would require the State Board of Education to establish minimum pupil-teacher contact times. In the evolving world of virtual education, we need to provide more flexibility than current law allows to define what constitutes proper pupil-teacher contact time. SF0124, Defending Wyoming Business - Trade and Commerce Amendments, allows the Wyoming Attorney General to initiate an investigation whenever probable cause exists that any person, firm or corporation, whether foreign or domestic, is engaged in a violation of any federal antitrust law. I cosponsored this bill, because our state needs to be able to protect our businesses from large monopolies that conspire to manipulate our markets. These bills that I supported passed Committee of the Whole.

The week of March 29 will be our last full workweek of the General Session for the 66th Legislature. We will vote early in the week on a budget compromise, and we will see the last days for Committee of the Whole. My bill, HB0039, Optometrist Practice Act Amendments, passed the Senate and is headed to the governor for his signature. I have two more bills in the Senate winding their way through the process. Hopefully they will reach the finish line.

More information about these bills and many more can be found at https://wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2021

I can be reached at [email protected] with questions or comments. Thank you.

Hello Sublette County, this is Albert Sommers reporting to you from Cheyenne on March 29, 2021. Today, the House and Senate passed their respective conference committee reports on the budget. The budget was then signed by both the president of the Senate and the speaker of the House. The budget will now head to the governor, who may line-item veto parts of the budget. After that we will have the opportunity to overturn his vetoes. In order to overturn a governor’s veto, both House and Senate must have the support of a two-thirds majority. That is a high bar. The budget bill cut more than $400 million from state government.

The House passed several bills on third reading today that I supported, including SF0056, Wyoming Gaming Commission - Modifications and Corrections, which reauthorizes and further regulates gambling machines that are called skill games. These machines have existed in our local bars for several years in a quasi-legal status. This bill makes skill games legal, regulates them, and taxes the proceeds off them. Our local bar owners want the machines because they provide a small income during slow times. I have supported the regulation of these machines.

SF0088, Ownership of Fossils and Artifacts, ensures that fossils and artifacts belong to the surface owner and not to the mineral owner on a piece of property.

SF0119, Investment of State Permanent Funds, provides more flexibility to the state treasurer when he invests Wyoming’s savings. The overall risk profile of the investments shall not exceed the risk profile of a reference portfolio that consists of 70-percent global equities and 30-percent domestic fixed income investments. Investment income from Wyoming’s savings has amounted to as much as 25 percent of the state’s total revenue stream. This policy is a best practice for large sovereign wealth funds.

Today in the House Committee of the Whole, bills that passed included SF0083, Gillette College Community College District, which creates a new community college district provided it passes a vote of the people of Campbell County. Gillette College has been part of the Northern Wyoming Community College district but is now asking to split off. Campbell County has the money to operate a community college without the need for state support. I voted for this effort.

SF0019, Public Health Emergencies - Immunity Amendments, provides that for any action involving a COVID‑19 liability claim against a person or entity, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the claimant accepted and assumed the risk. This protects businesses, including health-care facilities, from frivolous lawsuits over COVID infections.

More information about these bills and many more can be found at https://wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2021.

I can be reached at [email protected] with questions or comments. Thank you.

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