Wyoming’s budget is in limbo

The overall pace of the budget session may be slowing … but last week still kept us on our toes! (Gratefully, we were spared from any floor sessions extending into the wee hours, which happened several times in week two.)

My personal highlight was time in the Senate Lobby with Outdoor Council executive director Carl Fisher and development director Tyler Cessor. Although the pair was here on a separate mission, they stepped in to lend a hand on HB67 after it was added to the list of bills to be discussed at the last minute.

Their support felt representative of the way we like to do things at WOC — we each have our own work, but are always willing to dive into the trenches to help our colleagues and support our mission, whenever it’s needed.

  • We hit the crossover deadline early last week. All surviving House Bills (HB) are now being discussed in the Senate, and all remaining Senate Files (SF) are now in the House. 
  • The budget is in limbo as we wait to see what comes of negotiations between the House and Senate sides. That means funding for conservation-related agencies, plus the Kelly Parcel sale, are also up in the air.
  • With your help, SF72 died in committee and HB67 passed through the Senate. Thank YOU for taking action!
  • Some bad bills remain — and we’ll keep fighting them. 
  • Governor Gordon signed the first three bills into law on Friday, and more will follow this week.

Good news… your advocacy is paying off! Thank you for contacting your legislators.

Last week, we reached out and asked you to support net metering and rooftop solar in Wyoming. Your emails made a difference — we are excited to report that SF72 – Utility Donations, which was a roundabout way to target Wyoming’s net metering statute, has DIED. It failed to receive a motion to vote it forward when it came before the House Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee. Please thank the TRW Committee for stopping this bill by sending them a brief email — their email addresses are listed here:

We also alerted you that HB67 – Outdoor recreation and tourism trust fund administration-2 was in need of support. Once again, thank you for contacting your legislators. Now, this bill is on its way to the governor’s desk for his signature! HB67 creates the structure to administer the Outdoor Recreation and Tourism Trust Fund. Passage of this bill is a step in acknowledging the impact of recreation on wildlife, and we hope these impacts will continue to be considered as recreation grows across the state. Please thank the Senators who supported it by sending a brief email — their addresses are listed here:

We also urge you to contact House Appropriations Committee lawmakers and tell them to vote no on SF13, a bill that provides the legislature funds to sue the federal government. More details can be found below.

Era Aranow, government affairs manager, and Carl Fisher, executive director, in the Capitol.

HB01, SF01  |  Budget Bills  |  Support

These bills are the focus of the session and there is currently much discussion about whether they will be passed before the session is scheduled to end on March 8. Last week, five appointed members from each chamber met as a Joint Conference Committee to hash out the significant differences between the version of the budget bill passed by each chamber.

In this round of negotiations, the JCC may only touch areas of the bill that are different in each version. Last Thursday, House members of the committee proposed eight motions toward compromise between the two sections. Rather than discussing them that evening or even the next day, Senate members asked for more time — and now, the next scheduled discussion is this morning, part of which will not be open to the public. This delay will likely push the bill past the deadline where the legislature will be able to overturn any line-item vetoes by the governor.

One of the major differences between the budget bills passed out of each chamber are Energy Matching Funds. These funds can be used at the discretion of the governor for energy-related projects. To date, they have been used primarily to prop up our fossil fuel industry.

The sale of the Kelly Parcel to the federal government was approved by both chambers, so it cannot be removed in this round of negotiations. However, the House passed conditions on the sale tying it to the outcome of the Rock Springs Resource Management Plan process. We hope this stipulation will be removed, because it could open up the RMP process to more litigation and also interfere with the sale.

If the JCC can’t agree on a version of the budget to submit to their respective chambers, there are a few possibilities: The session could be extended by three days; a special session could be held in the coming months; or  it’s possible that a budget is not passed before the current budget runs out on July 1 — causing the state government to shut down. This WyoFile article covers these possibilities in detail and is worth a read.

HB33 | Mining Operations Blasting Requirements | Support

This bill passed and is currently awaiting the governor’s signature! It expands the Department of Environmental Quality’s oversight to include blasting at non-coal mines.

SF44  | Limited Mining Operations-Amendments| Oppose

This bill is up for its third reading in the House today — hopefully it will fail or at least include significant amendments to limit its potential harm. This bill expands the types of mines that are 15 acres or less that do not require a full mine permit under section 401 of the Environmental Quality Act. This would mean less oversight from the DEQ and no public comment requirements on new limited mining operations that could now include gold, lithium, and rare earth metals.

SF64 |  Mineral royalties-proportional severance tax refunds | Oppose
This bill is currently before the House Appropriations committee, where it could have a vote today. This bill is one of many actions this session to financially support our fossil fuel industries. Passing this bill will harm Wyoming’s financial outlook without bringing about the desired growth in extraction. Evidence overwhelmingly suggests that fossil fuel prices and drilling rates are influenced by national and international markets — not tiny changes in state taxes. Even more worrisome, because of volatile markets beyond Wyoming’s control, we can’t know the fiscal impact of this bill in the future.

We have defeated severance tax cuts in the past and hope that this will fail. Last week the Appropriations Committee discussed concerns about administering the rebate and the loss of revenue, but did not vote. They could still choose to vote on it this week before the committee deadline, or stop it from moving forward by not voting on it. 

Numerous bills to “fight the feds” and oppose the Rock Springs Resource Management Plan | Oppose

  • HJ3 | Support for local input in federal rulemaking: Passed out of Senate Minerals on Friday 4-1 with minimal discussion. The bill is a formal statement against the Bureau of Land Management’s Resource Management Plan process and recent federal rules. It directs the communication of this statement to the Director of the BLM, Director of the Department of Agriculture, the United States House and Senate, President of the United States and others. (Note: “HJ” means that this is a House Resolution, not a bill.  If passed, it will not create a new law.)
  • HB36 | Natural Resource Protection Act: Currently on the third reading consent list in the Senate. There are no plans to debate it, so It could be on its way to the governor soon. This bill would attempt to put the governor in the role of the federal courts who, constitutionally, are the only ones who can legally declare federal actions to be unlawful. If the governor declares a federal action to be unlawful, the bill would prohibit state employees or funds from being used to enforce it.
  • SF13 | Federal land use plans-legal actions authorized: Will be heard in House Appropriations in the noon meeting today. This bill provides the legislature or two-thirds of the Management Council (a mere seven legislators!) $50 million in funds to sue the federal government in order to “protect the rights, powers and interests of the legislature.” The constitutionality of this bill was repeatedly questioned during the floor debate in the Senate and there are many other, better uses for these funds. We urge you to contact the House Appropriations Committee to ask them to vote no on SF13. Their email addresses are listed here:

For the up-to-date status of all the bills we’re tracking, visit our bill tracker.

In the last week of a budget session, we would typically see several bill deadlines pass; bills move through their final votes in the second chamber; discussion of possible interim topics; the budget bill sent to the governor; some line-item vetoes; and the chambers consider overriding some of those vetoes.

But this session has proven not to be typical. While we expect those bill deadlines and interim topic discussions to happen, it’s still not clear when, or even if, the two chambers will agree on a version of the budget to submit to the governor.

Regardless of what happens in the halls of the Capitol, you can count on us to keep you in the loop. We’ll keep fighting for clean air, clean water, wildlife, and public lands!

I’d like to extend gratitude to all those who responded to last week’s action alerts on SF72 and HB67 — your voice continues to make a difference! If you ran into any technical issues while submitting the comment form, thanks also for your patience as we work out kinks in the system. If you ever encounter difficulty with our action alert form, please go ahead and directly send an email.  

If you have a moment, please write a quick thank-you to the TRW Committee, who stopped SF72, as well as the senators who supported HB67. Their email addresses are listed above.

Into the home stretch!



Government Affairs Manager