2016 Wyoming State Legislature: A Recap and Look Ahead

WOC Legislative Session_350Thank you to our members and supporters for your interest and engagement in the 2016 Wyoming legislative session!

With your help we had a fairly good session this year and below is a summary of the outcome of the many bills we were watching.

You may not see a lot of change since our mid-session update, because as expected with a 20-day budget session, a flurry of activity occurs during the first two weeks and bills are weeded out by mid-session.

Looking ahead, we see many opportunities to continue our positive impact on state legislative work through engagement with committees during the interim.

Legislative committees—such as Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources, or Minerals, Business and Economic Development—meet throughout the interim between sessions. These “joint” committees (they are conducted jointly between the House and Senate) hold their meetings around the state and provide an opportunity for easy attendance.

Each committee has a list of topics they will study during this time and may develop draft legislation resulting from this work. Interim work is a great way to get in on the ground floor of crafting legislation for our state.

The list of approved interim study topics was quite delayed this year, but it’s now available on the LSO website here.

Also, you can review the schedules for these meetings and see if a committee will be meeting close to your home via this link.

Here are some of the interim study topics that we will be watching in the next 9 months:

  • Rollout of the report and future legislation on the hypothetical state management of federal public lands—in Select Federal Natural Resource Management Committee.
  • Increased use of renewable energy (solar, wind, etc.) on homes, businesses and other institutions (net-metering) and costs—in Corporations Committee.
  • Sustainability and Commission authority of Game and Fish Department funding—in Travel, Recreation and Wildlife Committee.
  • Department of Environmental Quality & energy related topics, including possibly oil and gas well bonding, coal reclamation & bonding, Clean Power Plan, commercial oilfield sites, and Industrial Siting Council.

Please let me know if you might have a special interest in any of these topics, and we’ll keep you apprised of the meetings. We invite you to be part of this interim study work, and be assured, the Wyoming Outdoor Council will stay engaged on your behalf!

Steff Kessler, stephanie [at] wyomingoutdoorcouncil.org

Steff_mug_black&white

 

Recap of the 2016 Session Bills we supported:

SF 8—Bicycle and pedestrian system task force. PASSED.

SF 53—Large project funding. Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust large projects to enhance habitat. PASSED

SF 7, SF 39, and HB 28—A series of bills supporting landfill cleanup around the state and protection of groundwater from leaks and contamination. PASSED.

SF 93—Net metering. WITHDRAWN BUT NOW AN INTERIM STUDY TOPIC.

SF 64—Industrial siting permit amendments. Required updating of socioeconomic data when permits become stale after many years. FAILED BUT POSSIBLY AN INTERIM STUDY TOPIC.

Bills or budget amendments we opposed:

HB 12—Mountain lion trapping. FAILED.

HB 18—Wolves and grizzly bears. FAILED.

HB 126—Public land access. FAILED.

HB 142—Transfer of federal lands. FAILED.

HB 146—Solid and hazardous waste management rule-making. FAILED.

Budget amendments we opposed:

$712,5000 raid on Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust. FAILED.

$8.4 million raid on the Wildlife Trust. WITHDRAWN.

$800,000 reduction in general fund support for the Game and Fish department’s aquatic invasive species program. FAILED.

Approximately $500,000 reduction in Department of Environmental Quality expenditures for air quality and other work associated with the Clean Power Plan. FAILED.

Bills and budget items we were monitoring or working to improve:

SF 28—Carbon capture, storage and sequestration. We suggested an amendment that was adopted, but still have concerns with the final version and will monitor its implementation. PASSED.

SF 75 and SF 76—Trespass data bills. Some positive changes were made including removing the inclusion of activity on “public land” and the targeting of information provided to government agencies. Nevertheless, we believe the law still has constitutional problems. PASSED.

SF 88—State lands in Grand Teton National Park. FAILED.

Clean Power Plan footnote on the Senate version of the budget. The original amendment prohibited the Department of Environmental Quality from using funds to develop a state plan to comply with the Clean Power Plan. We opposed that amendment so as to ensure the state could continue research, study and stakeholder engagement and develop its expertise on this topic. That first amendment passed, but a later amendment revised the language, allowing DEQ latitude to continue its necessary study of the issue.

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