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Lots of Work to Do

Written by Dennis Sun
As our State Legislature completed its work in Cheyenne, they gave themselves quite a workload to accomplish before the next session that starts on Jan. 8, 2013. A good deal of this work comes in the form of interim committee studies, which are issues the legislators didn’t want to address, or didn’t have the time to address, in the last budget session, or they might have just needed more information to fully address an issue.
    From what I’ve read, these interim committees are usually the joint House and Senate committees whose members are already established, or they can be a select committee made up of chairpersons or members of legislative committees. However the makeup, they all require lots of information, especially from the public, and, as is usually the case, there are numerous sides to every issue.
    The issues for the 2012 interim are as broad as Wyoming, from reviewing bonding requirements for seismic activities to addressing issues with respect to the high rate of crime on the Wind River Indian Reservation. There is even a Select Committee on Archaic Laws with a budget of $2,500. This committee is looking into a number of issues and updating references to federal or state citations that have been amended over the years. When existing reference is clearly inaccurate, the committee will repeal provisions held to be unconstitutional in whole or in part, or will repeal or amend laws that no longer appear to be pertinent due to the passage of time or historic practices.
    Some of the interim committees in which agriculture will be interested, besides bonding of seismic activities, are looking into ways to increase highway funding by increasing fuel taxes, imposing a ton-mile tax, implementation of a optional one-cent sales tax or just looking into the benefits of modifying the Wyoming Department of Transportation’s overall funding model. Somehow we have just got to take adequate care and maintain our roads and highways.
    Another issue to address is the review of existing or proposed federal policies or actions that may impact the management, development or use of the state’s natural resources. Wow, what a mission that is, and electing a new President would sure be a help on that issue.
    Other issues are how to ensure uniform construction at the Wyoming State Fairgrounds, large game damages to agriculture, licensure for pesticide applications and whether or not there is a need for a commission-style Department of Agriculture that would include the functions performed by the Wyoming Livestock Board and the Board of Agriculture.
    Legislative members will also review agriculture studies at the University of Wyoming, to ensure they are really helping us in ag; the brand inspection process and requirements, including renewals and the ability to create permanent brand inspections; the review of “beneficial use” and the federal government’s appropriation of water; and whether or not the state should fund or match funds for conservation easements.
    Now, if you don’t have an opinion on any of these topics you need to spend less time in the outhouse. Get out and participate in our state government – state the true facts, and always have respect for opposing views.
    Dennis