Weekly Roundup - February 15, 2016

WEEKLY ROUNDUP

Majority of the Wyoming State Legislature
 
WEEK OF FEBRUARY 15

(This document is the work of Representative Rosie Berger along with Kristin Walker)

UPDATED VERSION: SF 0081 - School capital construction - charter school leases. The bill did NOT FAIL in the Senate.

The second week of the 2016 Legislative session heavily focused on the presentation and amending of the budget bill. The House of Representatives introduced over 90 amendments to the budget bill. The Senate introduced over 70. The following summary highlights a few of the major issues of the week.

Legislature can’t take rain check on making tough decisions today - We’ve all heard the news: it’s raining in Wyoming. Falling energy prices have resulted in fewer jobs and declining revenues for local and state government. Over the next few years, Wyoming is expected to face an over $600 million shortfall in anticipated revenues.
Read Senator Bebout and Representative Berger’s full op-ed


SUGGESTED MESSAGING

Upcoming week and session schedule

  • The mirrored sessions of the presentation and amendments of the budget bill occurred this week.
  • This Friday is the last day for bills to be passed out of the Committee of the Whole in their House of Origin. This means this is the last day amendments can be brought to the budget bill.
  • Next Monday is the last day for second reading and Tuesday is Cross-Over.
  • This 20-day budget session moves quickly, but we act with thoughtfulness and an eye on the future in all the decisions we’ve been entrusted to make.

Budget

  • This budget is a blueprint - a plan for our state to live within our means during the tough times today and those to come.
  • And while we know there are aspects of this budget people will disagree with, members of the state legislature have a put a lot of time and thought into it. 
  • The hard reality is, we just don’t have the money to spend that we have had in recent years. 
  • The Wyoming State Legislature has never been a borrowing operation, and we have no intention to start down that road now. 
  • Instead, we have all worked diligently and made the tough decisions the people of Wyoming have elected us to make.

Medicaid Expansion

  • Medicaid is not a silver bullet, and it comes with a great deal of uncertainty.
  • Many legislators have concerns over:
    • The willingness and ability of the federal government to meet their commitments in expanding the program.
    • Our ability to reverse course if and when we find expansion hasn’t worked for our state.
    • Medicaid’s ability to really improve health outcomes for its beneficiaries.
    • The impact expanding Medicaid could have in terms of pulling people out of the private insurance market and putting them on public insurance.
    • The impact expanding Medicaid could have on our already tight state budget if enrollment numbers are much higher than anticipated, as they have been in many other states (for example, Colorado’s enrollment was 207% over what was anticipated).



KEY HOUSE BILLS/SENATE FILES THAT MOVED FORWARD

Senate File 0010 Firearms - exemption from execution A bill that doesn’t allow for the seizure of firearms up to three firearms and their associated ammunition is not to exceed 1,000 rounds per firearm

Senate File 0029 Legislator participation in state benefit plans A bill that does not allow state legislators to participate in the state employee insurance plan

Senate File 0036 LLC member and manager liability A bill clarifying when liability cannot be imposted on members and managers

House Bill 0009 Tribal license plates A bill that authorizes special Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Indian tribe licenses plates 

House Bill 0052 School facilities appropriations - 3 A bill that provides funding for school facility projects through 2018 from the Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account

House Bill 0087 School finance - nonresident attendance A bill that modifies school funding for part-time students who attend school in nonresident school districts


KEY BILLS THAT FAILED

SF 0035 - Referendum - circulator payment - 3rd reading

IN THE NEWS

Health Department may study option of letting all Wyomingites on state insurance
Casper Star Tribune
The Wyoming Department of Health may study the possibility of allowing all Cowboy State residents to join the state health insurance plan.

Wyoming Senate works to correct data trespassing law
Associated Press
The Wyoming Senate is wrestling with how to improve two state laws the Legislature enacted last year that sought to make it illegal to trespass to collect data.

$240M mine land bill would pay for highways, DEQ
Casper Star Tribune
A state legislative committee advanced a bill Tuesday morning that will divide federal mine land reclamation money between highways and the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality.

Both Houses of Wyoming Legislature hear budget amendments
Associated Press
Both houses of the Wyoming Legislature started churning through scores of proposed budget amendments Wednesday as members weighed how to keep the state government functioning over the coming two years in the face of sagging energy revenues.

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