On January 30, our local legislators met with the public and Chamber members at the Campbell County Senior Center for the Chamber’s annual Eggs & Issues breakfast. Each representative was given two minutes to respond to questions from the floor, as well as a minute and a half at the beginning of the panel to discuss their upcoming bills or concerns for 2018.
In attendance were Senators Michael Von Flatern and Jeff Wasserburger, and Representatives Eric Barlow, Bill Pownall, Roy Edwards, Tim Hallinan, and Scott Clem. To open, Senator Von Flatern talked about SF0040 Commercial Air Service, which establishes a council to get proposals from airline contractors to increase air service in Wyoming.
“We’ll take all the money in [airfare and luggage fees], then pay the bill at the end of the month. The state will make up the difference if there’s a deficit.”
Senator Jeff Wasserburger, a former principal of Twin Spruce Junior High, is involved with two bills, HB32 Major Maintenance Formula and HB 33 School finance-capital construction amendments, both of which amends Wyoming Statute 21-15-109 to include specific references to updating or maintaining Wyoming public schools, and giving the Legislature the opportunity to overrule how school districts spend funds granted to them for construction.
Senator Wasserburger took his turn on the floor to discuss how he doesn’t think this budget session will see many tax bills head to a vote, as each bill has to have a 2/3rds vote of introduction just to make it to the floor.
Representative Barlow talked about his bill, HB0018 Nonresident employer bonding. If passed, it would prevent out of state companies from not paying wages, unemployment, or meeting OSHA requirements. A bond would hold them to the same standard as Wyoming employers.
Representative Pownall is on the Judiciary Committee, which oversees roughly a third of the bills introducted to the legislature, to make certain it’s fit legally to be discussed on the floor. The Judiciary committee meets at least twice daily during session to revue legislation. In his opening remarks, Representative Pownall talked about HB0012 Speeding fines amendments. The proposed bill is designed to simplify speeding fines, reducing some fines as a result. If passed, it would take 11 speeding categories down to 3.
Representatives Edwards and Hallinan repeatedly expressed their opposition to any tax increase bill, Mr. Edwards even joked that he was removed from the Revenue Committee because he won’t vote for tax increases.
Representative Clem discussed education funding, and how the student to teacher ratio is just a formula for funding, not a rule that school districts have to abide by for their class sizes. He added that amending state curriculum to include computer science will just make education costs go up. Senator Wasserburger also stated that this session will be most unsettled when it comes to education. Representative Barlow said the dollar amount for education gets all the attention, but the “real fight” will be over the formula to figure out funding for each district.