Continuing the Crook County News Since 1884

From the Desk of House Majority Floor Leader Chip Neiman

The gavel has come down on the 67th Budget Session for the final time. So much of what I spent my energy on this legislative session involves safeguarding Wyoming conservative principles.

I happily take this fight to the state Capitol because it means better lives for Wyoming families, strengthening our economy and preserving the unique way of life that makes Wyoming so exceptional.

Much of that comes down to holding the line on the growth of government and spending. It seems the Legislature is determined to keep tax revenue flowing to the state at a higher rate every year.

It is clear there is a lack of effort to change the spending habits of the government. We see that especially when it comes to the budget, which has been presented in multiple forms over the last 20 days.

The Senate’s original budget bill appropriately reigned in government spending with a $480 million cut to the Governor’s budget proposal. Others, like the original House version, added nearly $350 million.

When faced on Friday with the latest iteration of the Joint Conference Committee’s budget, I voted no because the bill represents continual growth in state government. It’s a question of needs and wants; and when I see Wyoming families struggling to get by, I simply cannot justify the rate of spending that our people would bear the brunt of.

This comes down to a fight for fiscal restraint and the prosperity of our children and grandchildren.

Speaking of the tax and spend mentality, the ongoing property tax crisis is another consequence of government taking too much from the pockets of taxpayers. From 2019 to 2023, residential property taxes in Wyoming rose by over a quarter billion dollars per year, to a total of $643,357,937.

Without legislative action, further increases would occur into 2024 and beyond. This is unsustainable and downright unethical.

Our Wyoming families simply cannot afford higher property taxes. We need meaningful solutions to find relief.

Out of the nearly 20 bills that were introduced to address this problem, a few have made it to the Governor’s desk. Although I am hopeful we will get our arms around this important issue, I am concerned the Legislature did not do enough to provide the real reform and relief Wyoming families need.

As a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights, I was pleased when the Senate revived HB0125 Repeal gun free zones and preemption amendments. This bill removes restrictions on gun-free zones in Wyoming, making it a safer place by letting law-abiding citizens exercise their rights and responsibly carry.

Additionally, SF109 would prohibit red flag gun laws from being enforced or implemented in Wyoming. As of this writing, both of these bills are headed to the Governor’s desk.

SF102 would have restricted America’s foreign adversaries from buying or owning property that could compromise Wyoming’s critical infrastructure or military bases. I am disappointed this bill died in the House.

SF99, also known as Chloe’s law, prohibits any doctor in Wyoming from performing gender transition procedures on children under the age of 18. This measure provides that doctors, surgeons, pharmacists and other health care providers could lose their license should they allow or perform gender transition procedures or surgeries on a minor. This bill became law without the Governor’s signature.

A bill that stands up for the sanctity of life, HB0148 Regulation of surgical abortions, became law this week. As I mentioned in a previous column, the new law requires that any surgical abortion facility and the physicians who work there are licensed, and it creates criminal penalties for violations.

The House added important amendments to this bill that require a pregnant woman seeking a chemical or surgical abortion to undergo an ultrasound at least 48 hours prior to the procedure. This bill became law without the Governor’s signature.

Another important bill that is now codified without the Governor’s signature is a long-time priority of mine relating to parental rights in schools. This new law requires that schools keep parents informed about their children’s well-being, obtain parental consent for health screenings and refrain from promoting radical gender ideology to children.

Somebody needs to get the Governor some ink!

In earnest, I want to thank everyone from House District 1 for their feedback, help and support throughout my time in Cheyenne. I am grateful for the honor to serve you and it is with a firm resolve that I continue the good work on behalf of the people of Wyoming. Together, we will fight to ensure Wyoming remains the best place on earth. Please email me at [email protected] with your views and questions.