Sundance Times - Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

By Tyler Lindholm
House District 1 Representative 

Legislative Update

 

March 19, 2020



Greetings Crook and Weston County,

Tyler Lindholm here, happily reporting from home south of Sundance! The 2020 Budget Session wrapped up late in the evening on Thursday, March 12.

As you know, the primary purpose of this session was to approve and implement a Budget for the 2021-2022 Biennium. This Budget includes operating expenses for all executive, legislative and judicial branch agencies, including the University of Wyoming, community colleges and K-12 education.

Governor Mark Gordon issued 19 line-item vetoes in the Budget, primarily addressing concerns over making policy through the budget as well as the unprecedented funding shortfall in which we find ourselves.

While I did not agree with every part of the budget, I think it strikes the right balance in reducing spending and the overall size of state government while ensuring citizens have access to the critical services they depend on. There’s no question that we’ll need to continue to make reductions to the size and scope of government in the sessions to come, as well as look at new ways to generate revenue for our state, but I believe this budget helps point us in the right direction.

One of the more creative solutions the state is considering to generate new income is purchasing approximately one million surface acres and four million mineral acres in southwest Wyoming from Occidental Petroleum. This session, the legislature passed, and I supported, SF 138, Investment of state funds-2.

This bill sets up a process for the State to consider the purchase of this parcel of land and minerals that was part of the original land grant to Union Pacific.

This land purchase would be a long-term investment for Wyoming to generate income and benefit public access for hunting and outdoor recreation, wildlife, energy and other economic interests. There are ample mineral development opportunities for coal, oil, gas, trona and potentially some rare earth.

While we are still just at the beginning of examining whether this would in fact be a good investment for our state, I’d encourage everyone to learn more about the proposed land purchase at governor.wyo.gov.

Aside from the budget, there were a total of 398 bills filed in the House and Senate at the beginning of this session, 256 in the House and 142 in the Senate. There were 97 House Bills and 70 Senate Files that have become law, meaning nearly 42% of the bills filed this session passed through the legislative process.

I’m proud to have authored two bills that became law last week:

HB0155, Animal Shares, specifies requirements for distribution of meat pursuant to ownership of an animal share. The reality of this bill has yet to be realized, but it takes advantage of the exemption currently in the Federal Meat Inspection Act. Ill provide an update on more of this later, but if you have questions please do not hesitate to reach out.

My other bill, HB 56, Good neighbor authority, creates the Wyoming state forestry good neighbor authority revolving account to support restoration efforts across private and public lands. Our State Forestry has partnered with BLM and Forest Service in the past to handle some problem areas and with this bill they can tackle areas like never before. The benefit of the bill is that we drafted it in such a way that it returns 500K to the state every year and can start to help self-fund our State Forestry.

I serve as Chair of the House Corporations, Elections and Political Divisions Committee. This session, our Committee sponsored and got passed a number of important bills, including:

SF 36, Large scale solar and wind energy facilities, establishes a framework for large scale solar and wind projects to operate in Wyoming. The law requires permitting for solar energy facilities by local Boards of County Commissioners and puts in place a process for review of solar and wind facilities by the Industrial Siting Council. It also establishes minimum standards for solar and wind energy projects.

SF 21, Coal fired electric generation facilities, provides authority to purchasers of retiring coal fired power plants and amend limitations on retiring facilities.

HB 19, Municipal right-of-way franchise fees, sets out parameters on how franchise fees can be set in order to provide a guideline for municipalities and industry alike.  This bill’s intent is to ensure ease of expansion for broadband in our state.

As you are likely aware, last Friday, President Donald Trump declared a National Emergency and Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon declared a State of Emergency in Wyoming to address COVID-19 (coronavirus), opening up funding for state and local government to address the coronavirus. Leadership in the Wyoming Legislature have been working in tandem with Governor Gordon’s office and the Department of Health to ensure we have access to important resources to prevent the spread of the disease here in Wyoming and respond accordingly.

For the latest information on the virus in Wyoming, please check the Wyoming Department of Health’s website at health.wyo.gov. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also posting information in real-time on their website, cdc.gov.

There is no question this is an unprecedented and scary time for many. As schools, businesses and travel shut down and our local, state and global economies head for a harsh slow down, I would encourage everyone here in Crook and Weston County to do what we have always done – look out for one another. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me at 307-282-0968 or email me at [email protected] should I be able to provide any assistance.

Stay safe and healthy.

Sincerely,

Representative Tyler Lindholm

House District #1

 
 

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