CHEYENNE — Gov. Matt Mead commended legislators for tackling tough issues during the general session that ended Wednesday afternoon.
Unfortunately, he noted, the lawmakers have been subject to threats as well as harsh criticism this year.
“I know all of you can take harsh criticism. That’s the business. But what’s not appropriate is the sort of threats about what you have decided or what you have not decided,” Mead said.
Unlike Congress, he said the legislators’ decisions are based on the next generation “rather than the next election or whatever is popular.”
Mead noted that although a lot of good work was performed since the session started in early January, he and the lawmakers disagreed at times.
“There was a little fluctuation on landfills and fires but the magic pen took care of it and I assume we’re all in agreement now,” he said during his talk before the Senate.
Mead was referring to his line-item veto of the budget that gave the state more money to fight wildfires this summer.
In his veto message, the governor noted the state spent about $45 million to fight fires last year. The Legislature approved $32 million for fires plus another $5 million from a landfill fund if necessary. Mead’s veto allows the state access to an additional $30 million from a landfill account for a total of more than $60 million.
The 62nd Wyoming Legislature adjourned Wednesday afternoon — four days short of the maximum 40 days allowed for the general session.
House and Senate leaders from both parties have scheduled a news conference for 10 a.m. Thursday to review the session’s accomplishments.
The Legislature this year passed two bills that had been introduced for years with no success. One new law allows the state to create a lottery and to participate in multistate lotteries such as Powerball. Another law imposes a 10-cents-per-gallon increase in the state tax on gasoline and diesel fuel beginning July 1.
The Legislature also adopted landmark legislation to strip elected state Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill of most of her administrative duties and move her to a separate office.
The state Department of Education will be run by a director to be appointed by the governor from a list of nominees from the state Board of Education. The department currently is being run by an interim director, Jim Rose, director of the Wyoming Community College Commission.