The Wyoming House of Representatives gave initial approval to a bill that would provide more funding to the State Game and Fish Department.
The bill would, for the first time, allow health insurance for Game and Fish employees to be paid for by the state. Until now, that’s been covered by the Department. It would also help cover the Department's costs for managing the state's Grizzly Bear population. The total impact to the state budget is estimated to be around seven million dollars a year.
A House committee had stripped out funding for Grizzlies, but that amendment was defeated following confusion about the impacts of the amendment. After some discussion the bill passed. Pinedale Republican Albert Sommers said it should help.
"Game and Fish has been a great ally in my neck of the woods for ranchers in dealing with issues like Bears, and Wolves, and Sage Grouse. I think that helping them get the insurance portion of this on the ticket of the General Fund is a good thing."
The Game and Fish Department says it needs the funding due to a budget shortfall that forced the agency to make several cuts over the summer. The bill will be debated two more times.