Legislative SessionWritten by Jennifer Womack
With the 2008 Budget Session of the Wyoming Legislature just a few weeks away, now is the perfect time to visit with your legislators. Assuming they’re not a member of the Joint Appropriations Committee that’s been meeting in Cheyenne for several weeks running, you might be able to catch them for a quick chat before they leave for the Capitol City.
We in Wyoming are lucky to have a legislature designed for public involvement. In all my trips to Cheyenne I’ve yet to see anyone turned away at the Capitol doors. The most frequent limiting factor at a committee meeting is the small rooms in which the gatherings are held. I’ll also admit that the wooden, library-style chairs can test one’s endurance, but the discussion is almost always worth hearing. There’s a lot of thought and debate that goes into this state’s laws.
Bills have already begun appearing on the legislative website at http://legisweb.state.wy.us. You’ll also find contact information for your legislators, committee meeting schedules and more within just a few clicks. Progress of legislation can also be tracked via the website.
When temperatures reach into the negative digits we in Wyoming agriculture often find a trip to Cheyenne next to impossible. Luckily, the industry has a team of lobbyists working on its behalf. If you’re not already associated with one of the state’s ag organizations, I’d encourage you to consider joining to ensure your voice is heard. Some of the groups host a legislative meeting providing a chance to visit Cheyenne and be part of the process.
For those of you who are members, don’t forget to make contact with your executives. Personal stories about how laws have worked, aren’t working or need to be changed, provide them additional tools and effectiveness in their lobbying efforts. One of the things I enjoy most in my visits to Cheyenne throughout the session are hearing Wyoming’s ag lobbyists at work on our behalf.
There are some key issues for Wyoming agriculture to come before this year’s session. Some, you’ve already seen on the pages of the Roundup. Others will appear in the weeks to come. Predator funding, large-acre subdivisions regulations, a reallocation of the state lands office loan programs and conservation district funding are top of my mind in issues of importance this session. I’m particularly excited about the bill that would add dollars to the young and beginning producer loan program offered by the Office of State Lands and Investments. Hopefully this will give more young people another tool if they’re looking to enter agriculture or return to the family farm or ranch.
We at the Roundup welcome your calls leading up to and throughout the upcoming session. Let us know what’s important to you, where we should focus our time and any concerns you have.
If you’ve never attended a session of the Wyoming Legislature, load up the family and make the trip to the Capitol City. From the balcony above the chambers you can watch the legislature in action. Walking the halls you can see numerous historical artifacts. And, my favorite, on the front lawn of the Capitol is a playful calf that reminds us all of the important role agriculture continues to play in the Cowboy State.
I hope to see you in Cheyenne this session.