Cheyenne, WY – Both houses of the Wyoming Legislature plan to work this week to reconcile differences in their budget bills.
The state doesn't have much extra money for lawmakers to spend this time around. That means that much of the budget discussion this session has centered on how to allocate the $350 million that the Joint Appropriations Committee has recommended for support of local governments.
The House and the Senate on Friday approved separate distribution plans for the money. They plan to work out the differences this week.
Cheyenne, WY – After the house narrowed its list of possible tax relief bills, the Senate will take its shot this week.
The main bill is one that provides a tax break for relatively low income people who have seen their property tax bills increase. Representative Pete Anderson says they are trying to make more people eligible.
On final day of introduction, the house defeated or did not hear some other relief measures, leaving the Senate will few options.
Laramie, Wyo – An attempt at diverting money into a fund to be used for roads has been defeated in the state Senate.
The bill was intended to earmark a third of the state's severance tax revenue to pay for highway construction. But during final debate, several senators opposed the idea because they did not want the state to return to a system of guaranteeing future money for a specific project.
Senator Tony Ross says that approach has led to difficulties in the past.
Laramie, Wyo – The state senate has killed a bill that would have given rights to landowners whose property is flooded or otherwise impacted by water from coal bed methane development.
The controversial bill died on a tie vote, following a lengthy debate. The bill had been heavily amended and Senator Charles Scott of Casper was among those who feared that it tipped the balance too favorably towards landowners.
Cheyenne, WY – Wyoming could be among the states that allow inmates to take DNA tests to prove their innocence.
The state senate gave preliminary approval to the bill and it will be heard two more times. Senator Tony Ross presented the bill and sees it as a benefit to inmates as well as police.
Senators eliminated a part of the bill that would have allowed law enforcement to take the DNA who are not yet named suspects in the crime. Law enforcement wanted that part of the law, so they could narrow a list of suspects.
Cheyenne, WY – The House gave preliminary approval to the bill that would tax oil and gas companies for helium extraction on Thursday. The taxes would bring in more than $2 million in annual tax revenue. Ed Schmidt is director of the Wyoming Department of Revenue. He says extraction of the helium should be taxed by the state. He says it is the only mineral commodity Wyoming does not currently tax. The bill would allow the state to tax helium extracted from the ground the same rate as other Wyoming minerals.
Laramie, WY – While several conservation groups have voiced opposition to yesterday's wolf delisting, at least one group is supporting the change.
The Greater Yellowstone Coalition, a conservation group based in Bozeman, Montana, says the removal of the wolf from the endangered species list is a step forward. Coalition chairman Todd Graham says it was time to switch from federal protection to local management.