Updates from the Legislature

By Tyler LindholmH-Lindholm-

Education remains the top priority this session and both houses finally have a product for the other side to scrutinize. The House’s version specifically gathers in cuts and the possibility of new revenue if needed.

All told? We have found the $400 million deficit and have covered it with our bill, but this legislation needs to be considered in the Senate and seek the upper chamber’s approval.

Personal bills are ways that legislators can carry issues forward for constituents and attempt to solve their problems. It is by far the hardest way to pass legislation, but it is the best way to get an issue out in the open, regardless of passage.

As an example, the Food Freedom Act was a personally sponsored bill. This year I sponsored eight pieces of legislation, and six have passed the House and moved onto the Senate.

“HB56 mobile homes – title status upon permanent foundation” is a piece of legislation that is an attempt to fix a hole in statute that the clerks and citizens have had to deal with. It ensures that a title can and will be available for release to real property.

“HB74 Agent Orange Health Awareness Month” is a piece of legislation that states August is a month we recognize the effects of Agent Orange not only on our veterans but their children. Agent Orange, or the dioxin in it, can have health effects for up to five generations and Wyoming will now join 25 other states in this effort.

This bill and issue was brought to me by Faith Hummel. Her grandfather was exposed to Agent Orange in Vietnam.

“HB129 Food Freedom Act amendments” looks to expand on the existing act in several ways. As the bill stands now, it would add fish, rabbits and add to areas where a producer and consumer can transact business.

This legislation is something that is a continuous work in progress and will continue to be as we look for ways establish a strong foothold of food primacy in Wyoming. Montana, South Dakota, North Dakota and Utah are all states around us that have copied our legislation and are attempting to pass it in their state!

“HB130 harvest of trophy game and fur bearing animals” gives the Game and Fish commission the authority to separate harvest quotas on Mountain Lions for resident and non-residents. Currently residents and non-residents share their quota and in Area 1 in Crook County, 60 percent of lions harvested are by non-residents and less than 5 percent of that are through outfitters.

This bill changes that to where quotas are separate and allows for our resident hunters to have a chance at filling their tags.

“HJ002 Balanced Budget Amendment Resolution” is a petition to Congress to amend the U.S. Constitution by adding a balanced budget amendment. This is a non-partisan issue that would put fiscal restraints on our federal government if adopted.

If Congress refuses to act, the resolution would be considered an Article V petition that would be collated with the other 28 states to have done so. If Congress won’t act to rein in spending, the states must.

“HB152 search and rescue operations” is a piece of legislation that provides immunity for volunteers that are acting in the role of Search and Rescue. This provides similar protections for our volunteers that our volunteer fire fighters already enjoy and will put a stop to litigation that individually names volunteers.

I would like to commend the County Commissioners in Weston and Crook County for taking a stance on public health nurses in regards to infant wellness and home health in the budget. Our budget from the Joint Appropriations Committee reflected a steep cut to the program and your Commissioners requested the money put back.

We were successful in keeping the program whole with the support of your local government. Great job!

We have three weeks to go and those weeks will be spent finding the differences the House has with the Senate in legislation and budgets. Neither side is a reflection of what the final product will be and we will spend the following weeks in conference fighting middle ground. At the end of the day, the cold harsh reality is that we have to balance the budget, and some of these cuts will hurt our area.