Wyoming lawmakers resume interim committee work in January as budget session nears

Interim
2013-12-30T08:00:00Z 2014-01-10T10:44:38Z Wyoming lawmakers resume interim committee work in January as budget session nearsBy LAURA HANCOCK Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online

With a little more than a month until the Wyoming Legislature’s 2014 budget session, it’s crunch time for lawmakers.

Legislators are wrapping up work on interim committees that met throughout the summer and fall. Interim committees study policy and issues facing the state. Committee members write and debate drafts of bills that are proposed to remedy the issues. The bills must be ready by Feb. 10, the first day of the session, said Dan Neal of the Equality State Policy Center, a Casper-based nonprofit that describes itself as fighting to empower the state’s residents, whose voices it says can be forgotten by special interests.

Lawmakers who are members of the powerful Joint Appropriations Committee, which is in charge of hammering out a state budget for the next two years, are combing through the budgets of each state agency prior to Feb. 10, Neal said.

Interim meetings

Seven legislative interim meetings are scheduled during the week of Jan. 5 to Jan. 11 in locales from Cheyenne to Fort Washakie. Topics will range from Wyoming Capitol renovation to the conduct of Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill to whether American Indians who live on the Wind River Reservation can be included in Medicaid expansion if the state does not expand it for other residents.

Jim Magagna, a longtime Capitol observer who lobbies for the Cheyenne-based Wyoming Stock Growers Association, described the interim as occurring in three waves, from May to December.

The first meetings “look at what needs to be addressed,” he said. “The second looks at the drafts [of bills]. The third meeting identifies the actual bills they’re going to introduce.”

While lawmakers are writing bill drafts, rewriting bill drafts and debating, they’re taking comments from the public, Magagna said.

Appropriations meetings

There are no public comment periods during the appropriations meetings, Magagna said. But many people attend the meetings when the budget of an agency they care about is being discussed.

The appropriations committee met 10 times in December. It is taking a break until Jan. 13, then is scheduled to meet an addition 10 times in January. 

Wendy Lowe is a Casper-based lobbyist who represents Peabody Energy, Williams Cos., WPX Energy, the Wyoming Physical Therapy Association and the Wyoming Society for Respiratory Care.

She has attended the appropriations meetings in the past. But the state has more revenue this year and there is less controversy surrounding the budget, she said.

“It would appear that from my perspective, that the governor’s budget was received fairly well by the committee,” she said. “I don’t see many areas of controversy. Sometimes there are big issues.”

Lawmaker’s perspective

Rep. Allen Jaggi, R-Lyman, doesn’t have any upcoming interim committee meetings, and he’s not a member of the appropriations committee. But he’s still busy.

He’s met with town and city councils in Lyman, Evanston and Mountain View. He’s scheduled meetings with Rotary clubs, chambers of commerce and school districts.

“Of course the cities and counties are concerned with funding,” he said. “The state employees are concerned with [pay] increase that Gov. Mead has proposed. And [people are concerned about] any bills that are of interest to Uinta County, Lincoln County, Sweetwater County and Sublette County.”

Reach state reporter Laura Hancock at 307-266-0581 or at laura.hancock@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter: @laurahancock.

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(1) Comments

  1. SofaSpud
    Report Abuse
    SofaSpud - February 10, 2014 10:51 am
    ok
Untitled Document

Civil Dialogue

We provide this community forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on the news of the day. Passionate views, pointed criticism and critical thinking are welcome. Name-calling, crude language and personal abuse are not welcome. Moderators will monitor comments with an eye toward maintaining a high level of civility in this forum. Our comment policy explains the rules of the road for registered commenters.

If your comment was not approved, perhaps...

  1. You called someone an idiot, a racist, a dope, a moron, etc. Please, no name-calling or profanity (or veiled profanity -- #$%^&*).

  2. You rambled, failed to stay on topic or exhibited troll-like behavior intended to hijack the discussion at hand.

  3. YOU SHOUTED YOUR COMMENT IN ALL CAPS. This is hard to read and annoys readers.

  4. You have issues with a business. Have a bad meal? Feel you were overcharged at the store? New car is a lemon? Contact the business directly with your customer service concerns.

  5. You believe the newspaper's coverage is unfair. It would be better to write the editor at editors@trib.com, or call Editor Jason Adrians at 266-0545 or Content Director David Mayberry at 266-0633. This is a forum for community discussion, not for media criticism. We'd rather address your concerns directly.

  6. You included an e-mail address or phone number, pretended to be someone you aren't or offered a comment that makes no sense.

  7. You accused someone of a crime or assigned guilt or punishment to someone suspected of a crime.

  8. Your comment is in really poor taste.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

Featured Businesses

Latest Offers