2021 legislative session

State of Wyoming


Wyoming's legislature meets next week and among the topics will be education spending and budget cuts. Gov. Mark Gordon joined Bob Beck to talk about a number of things including some of the budget challenges the state is facing.

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The pandemic has caused huge revenue shortfalls in state budgets across the Mountain West and the country, renewing heated debates over taxes. That's true in Wyoming, too, though one tax issue before lawmakers is "still something that, you know, gets whispered about."

Wyoming Legislature

During a Wyoming House Education Committee meeting, School District officials said they have been cutting budgets for many years and those cuts are starting to erode programs. The committee is looking at cutting education funding by $100 million.

Wyoming Legislature

The Wyoming House Judiciary Committee voted to table a bill that would protect journalists from disclosing anonymous sources and privileged information by court order. The committee will continue working on the bill with some clarifying amendments.

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The Senate Education Committee approved a bill that would set the stage for Gillette College to become an independent community college district.

Wyoming Legislature

The Wyoming House Corporations Committee approved a bill that looks to change the rules around voter identification in the state.

The bill would require voters to show specific identifications such as drivers licenses, state issued and tribal ID cards, passports or military ID or a medicare card, before voting in person.

Wyoming Legislature

Wyoming's House Transportation Committee voted to advance a bill that would increase the state's fuel tax by nine cents.

Photo: 123RF.COM

A Wyoming legislative committee has voted down a tax bill that could have raised over $40 million in the next three years by removing the sales tax exemption on large data centers.

Economic Development professionals and the Mayor of Cheyenne opposed the bill, telling lawmakers that data centers as they are provide more of an economic impact than a sales tax would provide.

Kamila Kudelska

The Wyoming House Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources committee has approved a bill that sets up a specific process if the Wyoming Game and Fish Department considers closing one of its 22 elk feedgrounds. There is no written process on how to close a feedground currently.

Bob Beck


For the last several years the Wyoming Senate, in particular, has been promising to make major cuts to education funding. While there have been reductions, K-12 education has not faced the types of cuts the Department of Health, the University of Wyoming, or other areas of state government has endured. This year there seems to be momentum to make education cuts, but the current proposal may not be constitutional.

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In 2020, Governor Mark Gordon asked school districts across Wyoming to start considering what a 10 percent funding cut would look like. And even more recently lawmakers are suggesting cuts around 6.5 percent.

J. E. Stimson / Wyoming State Archives

The Wyoming State Legislature has approved $24 million for water development. Some of that funding will go towards fixing the unsafe LaPrele dam near Douglas.

CCO Public Domain

Members of the Republican legislative leadership say reducing education spending is a priority this session.

During a news conference, House Majority Leader Albert Sommers said he favors a committee bill that would reduce K-12 spending by $100 million while also imposing a tax to pay for future education spending.

Wyoming Department of Education

Wyoming schools are looking at a big cut and calibration to the state's school funding model this year. Educators are worried about what this means for their students and instruction as lawmakers are considering the next steps.

Wyoming Public Radio's Catherine Wheeler spoke with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow about how this time the cuts will impact education in a big way.

Wyoming Taxpayers Association

Wyoming lawmakers have been in a cutting mode since coal revenues started to decline, but with oil and gas also bringing in less money than usual it's tougher for the state to pay for services. Lawmakers plan to address their budget shortfall by approving a number of cuts to the current state budget when they meet in March.

One solution is to raise taxes, but for many the solution is to reform the tax structure, so that energy does not pay the majority of taxes in the state. Ashley Harpstreith is the Executive Director of the Wyoming Taxpayers Association. She explains why her organization likes this approach.

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A bill that would make sharing what's known as revenge porn illegal may once again have its shot in front of lawmakers this session.

If passed, House Bill 48 would make the unlawful dissemination of an intimate image a misdemeanor and punishable with up to a $1,000 fine and/or six months of jail time.

Ad valorem taxes contribute to local and state-wide school funds
Pexels

The Wyoming House of Representatives and Senate have agreed on a path forward to solve a problem that has plagued the state for years: ad valorem tax collection.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

An effort to educate Wyoming school children on the topic of suicide prevention has been defeated by the Wyoming House of Representatives. Lawmakers defeated House Bill 62 saying that such discussions should take place outside of schools.

Gillette Rep. John Bear who lost his son to suicide, opposed the bill, saying young people need to get hope from the faith community.

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After a lengthy discussion, the Wyoming House of Representatives gave initial approval to a bill that increases the amount of maintenance money state parks can use.

Bob Beck

The Wyoming Legislature is planning a hybrid session in March that will be both remote and in-person after the governor and lawmakers agreed to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to interested legislators and other key players.

Dan Boyce

The Wyoming Senate gave its final approval on Friday to a bill that would change the net metering law in the state.

Bob Beck

The Wyoming Senate voted Friday to cut funding to local governments for the coming year. The reduction is part of the need to address the loss of revenue to the state due to the downturn in the energy industry. The $10.5 million reduction will impact communities differently, but likely will impact things like staffing and services to the public.

CCO Public Domain

The state Senate Revenue Committee passed two bills that take different approaches to transitioning to a monthly ad valorem tax for the mining industry.

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The Wyoming House Revenue Committee has actually approved a tax bill. Committee members voted to send a 14 cents a pack increase on cigarettes to the House floor. The bill also increases the tax on smokeless tobacco by 12 cents.

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The state Senate Corporations Committee approved a bill that would reform the net metering system for those who use renewable energy to reduce their electricity rates. The vote comes despite opposition from those saying the change would reduce the incentive to install solar.

Stephanie Joyce

The Wyoming Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) said the state's revenue picture looks brighter. The latest CREG forecast shows an $82 million improvement from October. The news came as the legislature held an opening day session.

Grendelkhan

About 30 states already have regulatory frameworks set up to safely and efficiently introduce autonomous vehicles into the states. Now, state lawmakers are working to get Wyoming caught up.

Bob Beck

Wyoming legislative leaders say they will delay the bulk of the 2021 legislative session until the state's COVID-19 outbreak is under control.

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The Legislature's Joint Revenue Committee has voted to recommend approval of a nine cent fuel tax increase to pay for highway maintenance. Wyoming Department of Transportation Director Luke Reiner said WYDOT faces a funding gap of $136 million and the tax increase would help chip away at that.

Shannon Lastowski Monahan

On a crisp late fall afternoon, Colin Monahan and Shannon Lastowski Monahan were about to relax after a nice dinner with friends at their home in Wapiti, about 20 miles west of Cody towards Yellowstone National Park.