2020 legislative session

Ken Lund via CC BY-SA 2.0

In an unexpected move, Gov. Mark Gordon vetoed a bill that would have laid the groundwork for a major land and mineral rights deal between Wyoming and Occidental Petroleum.

Bob Beck

Over the years there's been a conflict between news, advocacy organizations and members of the public versus government agencies when it comes to documents and information. Many times these issues go to court. In an effort to make all sides play better together, the legislature created the position of Ombudsman to settle these disputes. Ruth Van Mark joins Bob Beck to discuss her role in the state.

Bob Beck

The Wyoming Legislature wrapped up its work this week with concerns about the future. A downturn in oil prices and worries about a drop in investment income has lawmakers thinking that they may need to make some difficult decisions in the not-too-distant future.

www.nrel.gov

There were only six bills centered on renewables this session, but you'd be forgiven to think there were many more. Even when it wasn't the topic of conversation, renewables were on lawmaker's minds.

Savannah Maher

During the legislative session, Representative Andi Clifford's days start before dawn. So, when her friend Representative Sara Burlingame picks her up from her hotel early on a February morning, the first thing on their agenda is getting caffeinated.

WyoFile/Flickr Creative Commons

County Clerks in Wyoming could soon be required by state law to accept tribal ID cards for voter registration, provided the ID lists the applicant's driver's license number or last four digits of their social security number.

Associated Press

The State Senate has passed a bill that sets up a process for legislators to review the school funding model and take a close look at education requirements.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Declining oil prices, a lack of substantial budget cuts, and concerns spending reserves dominated discussion as the Wyoming House and Senate gave final approval to its two-year budget.

A few of the changes in an amendment adopted by the Senate
Legislative Service Office

An amended bill to move ad valorem tax payments from an 18-month to a monthly schedule has passed its first hurdle on the Senate floor.

Ad valorem taxes are a property tax paid to counties from mineral companies. Wyoming is currently missing out on about $130 million in delinquent ad valorem taxes, according to the Wyoming County Commissioners Association. 

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

The Wyoming Senate is scheduled to debate a bill today to set up a gaming commission who will determine how to regulate the growth in video gambling in the state.

Wyoming State Senator Affie Ellis.
LINDSAY LINTON BUK

Cheyenne Senator Affie Ellis successfully added an amendment to include more non-politicians in discussions over how Wyoming spends its education money.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

A state capital construction bill received final approval from the Wyoming House, setting the stage for a conference committee that will focus on what the University of Wyoming will get. 

Bob Beck

The Wyoming Legislature will be undertaking what is called a recalibration of its school funding system. It's a process where lawmakers look at what they require of educators and the state is paying enough for education. But for the first time since it was developed, the committee will study what is in Wyoming's basket of goods. Those are the skills and content areas students are required to learn, such as math and science.

Online GIS Maps; Cooper McKim

Wyoming legislators are working through two bills that would lay the groundwork to study and potentially buy over a million acres of land and four million acres of mineral rights across the southern part of the state.

The 1,010,900 acres of land in question sits within six Wyoming counties: Lincoln, Uinta, Carbon, Albany, Laramie, and Sweetwater. Local officials are beginning to grapple with the potential risks and rewards of the deal.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

Both the Wyoming House and Senate began discussing the possible purchase of a million acres of surface land and four million acres of mineral rights. Legislative leaders said the goal is to establish ground rules that could make such a purchase possible. 

Wyoming Legislature logo
Wyoming Legislature

The Wyoming Legislature has high hopes of debating some gaming bills this session including the establishment of a new gaming commission.

Bob Beck

Wyoming lawmakers continue working on a bill that would allow the state to look into purchasing a million acres of land in southern Wyoming.  

The swath of one million acres of land in southern Wyoming is currently owned by Occidental Petroleum and doesn't include any private or federal land.

Tennessee Watson

Wyoming lawmakers are still looking for ways to pay for education funding. A variety of tax proposals have been rejected and the long term forecast shows a major deficit in funds used for education.

The proposed site for the Millennium Bulk Terminals in Washington State. Wyoming has pushed to open a port in the U.S. with distance from a port in Canada
Millennium Bulk Terminals - Longview

The House Revenue Committee went back and forth over a bill that looks to incentivize coal exports, voting 5 to 3 to move the bill forward.

House Bill 231, Coal Severance Tax Exemption - Canadian and Mexican Ports, is one of three bills with the goal of boosting exports this session along with the Wyoming Coal Marketing Program and Exportation of mineral resources. Both look to appropriate funds to expand Wyoming's coal markets. The former has already passed out of the House.

Wyoming Business Council

Recently a Laramie man was chosen as the new CEO of the Wyoming Business Council. Josh Dorrell has a long history in private business and he's also taught business at the University of Wyoming.

Governor Gordon and others have called for a revamping of the business council and Dorrell has already started making changes that he hopes will bring about more success. He speaks with Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck.

Bob Beck

The Wyoming Legislature has been meeting for a couple of weeks now and it seems very similar to past sessions. There's not going to be tax increases, there's a lot of talk about budget cutting, but hardly any real cuts are underway. This despite the fact that revenue projections remain dire.

Cooper McKim

The House Revenue Committee sat down on an early Wednesday morning to a full audience. Chairman Dan Zwonitzer, who represents Cheyenne, switched seats in order to testify on a bill called "Reliable and Dispatchable Low-Carbon Energy Standards."

Governor Mark Gordon announced this week that Wyoming is looking to buying a million acres of land across southern Wyoming and surrounding states along with 4 million acres of mineral rights.

The Dry Fork Station, a coal-fired power plant, sits next to the Integrated Test Center which aims to research and develop carbon capture technology
Cooper McKim

The House Revenue Committee heard testimony today on a bill that would require public utilities to provide a certain percentage of their generation from "dispatchable and reliable low-carbon electricity."

House Bill 200 describes "low-carbon" as electricity generated using carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technology - a process that can store or reuse carbon dioxide. In Wyoming, that would mean utilities have an incentive to preserve coal-fired power plants by equipping new technology. They would have until July 1, 2030 to meet the standards.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

The Wyoming House of Representatives finally passed a statewide 5 percent lodging tax and voted down an attempt to exempt Wyoming residents.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

The State of Wyoming is working on a massive land deal that would involve one million square acres across southern Wyoming.

Blackjewel LLC Operations
Prime Clerk

The House Minerals, Business, and Economic Development Committee advanced one of two bills looking to help out-of-work coal miners receive unpaid wages.

Downtown Laramie

Laramie could lose $400,000 over two years in state funding under a formula approved by the Wyoming Senate last week.

Wind Farm in Medicine Bow, Wyoming
Tony Webster, Portland, OR

The House Minerals, Business & Economic Development Committee moved forward on a bill that would allow coal mines to become a disposal site for decommissioned wind turbine parts if it's part of the company's reclamation plan.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

The Wyoming House of Representatives has started debate on a bill that would impose a statewide five percent tourism tax. 

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