wyoming legislature

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.

Cooper McKim

Earlier this summer, organizations got together across Wyoming to give testimony about the largest utility in the state's controversial plan to make a shift away from coal and towards renewables.

How do you think budget cuts in Wyoming will affect you, and would you support paying more taxes to maintain those services? 

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This week, Gov. Mark Gordon started addressing Wyoming's $1.5 billion shortfalls with $250 million in budget cuts.

The cuts are due to the economic fallout from COVID-19 and a sudden drop in energy prices. Gordon has said he would like to see cuts, reserves, and some new revenue sources used together to address the shortfall, but that remains difficult.

State of Wyoming

After several months of anticipation, Wyoming has withdrawn its bid for roughly four million acres of mineral rights and a million acres of land owned by the oil and gas company Occidental Petroleum. Gov. Mark Gordon had hoped to use those assets to improve the state's rate of return on investments.

Throughout the process, there were questions about what was going on behind-the-scenes. Gordon put out a statement following the state's bid withdrawal looking to answer some of those questions. Wyoming Public Radio's Cooper McKim spoke with the governor to talk through that statement.

Bob Beck

  

Some notable legislators lost their seats in last night's Wyoming Primary, many were targets of a conservative arm of the Republican Party. 

Rig count in Wyoming over the past year
Y Chart

The legislature's Joint Minerals, Business & Economic Development Committee voted in favor of sponsoring a bill they hope will incentivize new oil and gas production in the state.

Nimi McConigley

Even though women in Wyoming were allowed to vote, run for office and get involved in politics back in 1870, it took much longer after that for women of color to get elected.

The first Black woman to get elected to office in Wyoming was Elizabeth Byrd. She started out in the Wyoming House of Representatives, in 1981. That's close to a century later after women were first granted the right to vote and run for office.

What took so long?

Bob Beck


In Wyoming history, only 119 women have won legislative races. Since about half of the state is made up of women, it means they seriously lack representation. It's an issue that has been discussed for years, though little gets done.

Petroleum Association of Wyoming

There are currently only two oil and gas rigs operating in the state right now, down from 30 last year. The Joint Minerals, Business & Economic Development Committee approved the drafting of two bills to help the industry, whose downturn will severely hurt the state's revenue picture.

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

The Joint Revenue Committee began a discussion on how to transition to a monthly ad valorem tax collection schedule. During this year's budget session, legislators voted to slowly shift mineral producers from an 18-month lag in collection to a monthly schedule in order to reduce tax delinquency.

Jimmy Emerson, DVM via https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Wyoming legislators were told that state revenue projections are down $1.5 billion from January led by a huge drop in projected oil prices. 

The state legislature's Joint Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Committee met this week to discuss revenue issues facing the state's transportation department.

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) presented a potential solution to its revenue shortfall: a road user charge. That's when drivers, both commercial and personal, pay a fee for the miles they drive on state roads and highways. Several states, including some in our region, are working on similar ideas.

WYDOT

The Wyoming Department of Transportation (WYDOT) will be meeting with the legislature's Joint Transportation, Highways and Military Committee this week.

Several members of the Joint Minerals Committee meeting over Zoom for the first time before the Special Session
Wyoming Legislature Youtube

The Joint Minerals, Business & Economic Development Interim Committee amended a bill that will determine how federal relief funds will eventually reach Wyoming businesses. Among other changes, the committee decided to double the allotted funds from $25 million to $50 million available.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming legislative leaders have been told the state may face revenue declines between $555 million to $2.8 billion as a result of the coronavirus.

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Some Wyoming residents have received notices saying the state has taken away their ability to purchase a membership for air ambulance service. A membership pays for an air ambulance if needed. 

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. 

Uinta, Carbon, and Sweetwater County Maps With Parcels Up For Sale Highlighted. Land grant map listed as well.
Online GIS maps, Cooper McKim

What are your thoughts about the state of Wyoming’s potential purchase of over 1 million acres of land and 4 million acres of mineral rights in southern Wyoming?

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