Budget Discussions Will Pick Up Steam this Week

I entered the doors of the Capitol last week full of both excitement and a bit of trepidation: Which bills would be introduced? Which bills would move forward, and which bills would die a swift death? And — would my lingering leg injury, sustained on a Search and Rescue mission last year, impede my ability to advocate?

Now, with the first week of the session behind us, I am happy to report that the Capitol is quite possibly one of the best places in the state to get around on a scooter — and that most of the bills we were concerned with met an early death.

It was a busy week, and I was glad to be joined by climate and energy policy director John Burrows and program director Alec Underwood. Together, we tracked new bills as they dropped, fought bad bills, and supported good ones through testimony and lobbying. In total, 353 bills came out. Of those, almost half have already died. 

Want to see the current status of the many bills we’ve been watching? Check out our bill tracker.

  • Many of the bills we opposed died this week, because they either missed the introduction deadline or did not receive the two-thirds majority vote needed to pass introduction in a budget session.
  • SJ01, which would have supported federal land transfer to the state, died on introduction. We strongly opposed this bill.
  • HB94, which would have increased the generation cap for net-metering systems, died on introduction. We supported this bill.
  • Numerous bills negatively targeting wind and solar energy have died or been withdrawn. 

There are multiple sections of the budget that impact conservation. As the budget enters its second and third readings this week, we strongly encourage you to call or email your legislators to let them know you support the following parts of the budget:

  • Protecting the Kelly Parcel: We’re closer than ever to ensuring protections for the Kelly Parcel. According to thousands of Wyomingites as well as former governors, protecting the Kelly Parcel is a win for Wyoming! We need legislators to support Section 324 of the budget, which would allow for the direct sale of the Kelly Parcel to the National Park Service. Learn more and contact your legislators below.
  • Ensuring our state agencies are appropriately staffed: Let your legislators know that you support retaining staffing requests for agencies that influence conservation, including the Department of Environmental Quality, the Office of State Lands and Investments, and the Wyoming Energy Authority. (The budget sections related to these agencies, respectively, are Sections 020, 060, and 090.)
  • Combating invasive grasses: Tell your legislators to fully fund the governor’s request to fight invasive grasses to support wildlife, livestock, and ranchers as part of the Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust. The governor originally asked for $20 million, but his request was reduced to $5 million, with a difficult requirement for a 3:1 match with non-state funds. 
  • Funding the Grant Management Office: Tell your legislators to support the funding of this office within the State Budget Department with $500k to support both the state and local governments in finding and securing grants.

Some of the surviving bills we are focusing on are listed below. For the full list, please see our bill tracker.

HB01, SF01  |  Budget Bills  |  Support/Amend

These are the most important bills of the session and the only ones that are constitutionally required. They will be heavily amended on second and third readings this week before a conference committee made up of members of both chambers will try to reconcile their differences and create a budget both chambers can approve. See above in Actions to Take for ways to influence what is included in the final budget.

HB33  |  Mining Operations Blasting Requirements  |  Support 

This bill provides clarity and authorization for the DEQ to regulate non-coal blasting. (While coal blasting is already regulated, non-coal blasting is not.) Blasting can have substantial impacts outside of the mine — affecting wildlife, ground and surface water, and nearby structures. 

HB35  |  Limitation on Environmental Rulemaking  |  Monitor

We worked this bill through the interim — shifting it from a bad one to a reasonable one. As originally written, it would have prohibited the DEQ from making any regulations stricter than federal ones (such as from the Environmental Protection Agency). There are times, such as when there were air quality concerns near Pinedale, when regulating more strictly has significantly benefited Wyoming. As it stands right now, this bill puts the DEQ’s existing practices into law. We’ll watch this bill to make sure that it does not revert back to the original.

HB36  |  Natural Resource Protection Act  |  Oppose

This bill is one of several that pushes back against the Bureau of Land Management’s Rock Springs Resource Management Plan. This bill would give the governor and the attorney general the power to decide if federal laws or regulations regarding land management, such as the RS RMP, do not comply with other federal laws. They could then direct all state and local entities to refuse to enforce these federal laws if they are deemed to not be in the best interest of the state.  

HB67  |  Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Trust Fund Administration-2  |  Support

This bill would set up the guidelines for administering the Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Trust Fund, which was established during the 2023 legislative session. During the interim, we worked to add wildlife considerations to this bill. Numerous studies confirm the impact that recreation can have on wildlife, and while we support and enjoy outdoor recreation, we want to be sure that it is appropriately planned and implemented. 

This bill is an example of some of the new dynamics we’re seeing this session. The “2” at the end of this bill indicates that it is a copy of the committee bill that was introduced in the senate, SF40. This committee bill (and a surprising number of other committee bills) was killed on introduction, without discussion, when it did not reach the required two-thirds majority. It’s a move that bucks tradition and wastes significant investment of time and money made by legislators, state agencies, and the public who weighed in on the committee bill during the interim.

SF44  |  Limited Mining Operations amendments  |  Oppose

This bill expands the limited mining operations category (an exception to more rigorous permitting) from inert sand and gravel mining operations to include any non-coal mineral, except those associated with nuclear regulations. This includes rare earths, gold, and other resources which could be associated with heavy metals or other pollutants of significant concern. It also removes all local control by prohibiting county commissioners from denying permits and then removing the ability for meaningful public comment from those who may be impacted. 

SF 64  |  Mineral Royalties Proportional Severance Tax Return  |  Oppose

Bills like this one — in which lawmakers propose to reduce the severance taxes fossil fuel companies pay to the state — have become common in recent years. We are opposed to this bill because studies conducted by the state continue to confirm that geology is more important than tax rates in encouraging or discouraging exploration and production. Although Wyoming must reduce its dependence on fossil fuel taxes and diversify its economic base, we believe it is poor policy to continue to reduce taxes on these industries, especially at a time of record profits for many companies. 

Today, Monday, lawmakers will move through their second reading of the budget. While the first reading was a simpler walk-through of its contents, the second reading will be full of amendments and could be quite contentious. The third reading of the budget, scheduled for Wednesday, will bring even more amendments.

This week will also see more deadlines and chances for bills to die:

  • Wednesday is the last day for bills to pass the Committee of the Whole in their house of origin.
  • Friday is the last day for bills to make it through smaller and more specific standing committees. These standing committees are the only chance the public has to testify on a bill before legislators.
  • Bills that have not passed the second reading in their house of origin by next weekend (Feb. 24–25) will be dead for the session.

You can find these deadlines (and which bills will be discussed in which committees) here.

Need a refresher on how a bill becomes a law, and how bills die throughout the process? Check out our recent blog on the journey from bill to law.

I’d like to extend a huge thanks to those who answered our call last week to support the Kelly Parcel. You may not think that your one email can make a difference, but I assure you — it does! In fact, I often hear legislators and the governor’s office referencing messages from constituents.

If not for the power of your engagement with lawmakers, our work at the Capitol would have much less weight. Thanks for being a part of our team, and stay tuned for future alerts. We’ll also keep our State Legislature page fresh with action alerts as they arise.

Onward as the fog begins to lift!



Government Affairs Manager