THE MIDWAY POINT — THROUGH THE LOOKING GLASS
This week marks the beginning of the second half of the month-long legislative session. In many ways the next two weeks will be the mirror image of the first two.
Bills that managed their way through one side of the capitol will now try to repeat that feat on the opposite side of the building — in a sense, they’re going through the looking glass.
Thus the “big four” wind-energy-related bills will be tested again, but this time by a new group of legislators.
Meanwhile, both the Senate and the House will be taking up the appropriations process in earnest, and both bodies will be starting at opposite ends of the capitol with the same bill, Senate File 1. This is the bill that Gov. Dave Freudenthal, in his State of the State address on the first day of the session, suggested (tongue-in-cheek) that the Legislature could pass within a day or so, he could sign and everyone could then go home.
Of course if that had happened we would have missed the debates on concealed weapons, non-native aquatic species and distracted driving that have taken up so much time.
We also wouldn’t have seen the discussion over the resolution that would have urged the repeal of the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which if passed would have signaled the Wyoming Legislature’s desire to resume electing our two U.S. senators rather than allowing voters to decide who those officeholders would be. The 17th Amendment to the Constitution was ratified by the states in 1913.
Here are some of the bills that we continue to follow and are working to influence. I’ve included a link, as well as a prediction for each:
HB 17, Carbon Sequestration — likely to pass
HB 47, National Environmental Policy Act and Endangered Species Act review — likely to pass (we are working to amend)
HB 72, Regulation of Wind Facilities — likely to pass with amendments
HB 97, Nuclear Energy Study — likely to pass, but we are working to make sure people understand that this bill is more about uranium processing and waste storage than it is about energy development
HB 101, Wind Excise Tax — amended, but its fate is still in doubt
SF 13, Economic Analysis — heavily amended, and we are proposing additional amendments in the house
SF 66, Industrial Siting of Wind Energy Developments — likely to pass
HB 79, Collector Lines and Eminent Domain — no prediction
ON A PERSONAL NOTE
A bill that I’ve been interested in as a private citizen is HB 54, the Food Freedom initiative.
This bill would allow an unregulated one-to-one relationship between a producer (seller) and a consumer for meat, poultry and raw milk products.
While there is much to be said for the safety net that the regulated inspection of these commodities has achieved historically, that process has also set up barriers between consumers and their local food producers and local food sources.
A lot of people in Lander have been eager to learn about this bill and I have been glad to have the chance to keep them updated.
It might interest readers to learn that people were able to testify on this bill during its hearing in committee by going to any of several video conferencing sites around the state, one of which is in Riverton. While not many committee bills are seen in this way, you can go to the legislative web site (http://legisweb.state.wy.us/) and learn more about this important innovation by clicking on the link “How to Participate During the Legislative Session.”
If you want to listen to floor debates, there is a link on the website for that too; it’s labeled “Audio Broadcasts of the 2010 Session.”
As always, if you have any questions or comments on these or any other bills, please let me know. And if you’re in Cheyenne, stop by and say hello!
Contact: Richard Garrett, Jr., energy and legislative advocate, Wyoming Outdoor Council, 307-332-7031 x18; 307-438-9516; firstname.lastname@example.org.