Wyo legislature adjourns after general session
Cheyenne – The 62nd Wyoming Legislature adjourned from the 2013 General Session of Feb. 27 after passing a total of 206 pieces of legislation.
In addition to passing 206 bills, the group also adopted a supplemental budget bill with budget reductions of $62 million.
Overall, Wyoming agriculture groups noted the session as having many positive outcomes.
“The 2013 Legislative Session is over, and it ended on a very positive note for Wyoming agriculture,” comments Wyoming Stock Growers Association (WSGA) Executive Vice President Jim Magagna.
“It was a very productive session and a very good session for us,” adds Wyoming Livestock Board (WLSB) Director Leanne Correll. “We got a lot of our cleanup done.”
Correll noted that a number of bills that are very important for the WLSB were passed, particularly noting Senate File (S.F.) 4.
“Our three main committee bills all passed,” she explained. “There were also other bills, including livestock fence repairs, that were important to us.”
The WLSB will also have to pursue action on several bills, including the bill concerning reportable diseases in livestock.
“The Board has some work to do on diseases that would be economically devastating in herds,” explained Correll.
House Bill (H.B.) 225, dealing with the transfer of ownership of livestock and brands, was also important for the WLSB and would allow transfer of a brand or livestock to another name or company without a brand inspection, provided that ownership doesn’t change.
“For example, if a husband and wife decide to form an LLC and want to put the livestock and brand under the name of the LLC, they can do that without a brand inspection,” Correll explained.
She also noted they will continue to work on legislative issues, including additional cleanup and consideration of animal cruelty laws, during the interim session.
Private property rights
For the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Magagna noted that their focus on private property rights bills was challenging.
“The route was long and arduous for two of those bills that were highest on the Wyoming Stock Growers priority list,” said Magagna.
He noted that the seismic bonding bill that came from the Interim Joint Agriculture Committee died on the first day of session.
“It was reintroduced in the Senate as S.F. 136, failed on the third reading, was revived and finally passed on Feb. 26 in very close to its original form,” he commented. “This is a living example of the perseverance that is needed at times to move controversial legislation.”
Magagna also noted that S.F. 118, the eminent domain bill, was another major challenge. The bill faced 14 amendments, which were unsuccessful, aimed to weaken the bill.
“After a significant effort by key legislators and supporting groups, including WSGA, the Senate reconsidered on Feb. 27 and concurred by a vote of 20 to 10, thereby sending the bill to the Governor for his signature,” said Magagna.
Wyoming Farm Bureau also supported the bill.
The Wyoming Regulatory Takings Act, livestock-related bills, large projects funding and restrictions on state funding of conservation easements were also passed.
Farm Bureau priorities
Brett Moline, Wyoming Farm Bureau lobbyist, noted that there were both successes and disappointments in this year’s session.
“Two eminent domain bills that we supported, H.B. 40, wind collector systems, and S.F.118, eminent domain-3, passed,” he noted, explaining that H.B. 40 extends the moratorium n the use of eminent domain on collector lines for wind generation systems. “The extension should allow us time to come up with a workable solution for both sides – the landowners and wind companies.”
They also supported a bill, H.B. 53, increasing the ability of the state to enforce restricted activities on state lands.
H.B. 85 addresses issues of regulation without representation by reducing ability of cities and towns to enforce health and safety ordinance outside of city limits.
“H.B. 156 also allows moving livestock in emergency situation,” explained Moline. “This bill would allow persons to move livestock across county lines without getting a brand inspection, until after the animals have been moved. This is especially important when dealing with large-scale wildfires.”
Other bills supported by Farm Bureau included S.F. 7, S.F. 66, S.F. 126 and S.F. 160.
For the Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts, Bobbie Frank noted, “The session turned out well for us.”
“Our primary issue was the bill on special expertise,” she said, “and it couldn’t have gone any more smoothly. There were no questions, no debate and it passed unanimously on both sides.”
Frank further commented that special districts issues, to be addressed in the interim session by Management Council, will be on their radar for the interim.
The Wyoming Legislature is set to re-convene on Feb. 10, 2014 for the Budget Session.