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Guest column Wrap-up of 2013 Legislative session

Posted: Friday, Mar 8th, 2013

By Allen Jaggi

Wyoming House of Representatives

House District #18

It is so good to be home after a 38-day general session of the Wyoming State Legislature. It is an incredible experience, honor and great responsibility to represent the people of Uinta County and the state as I have done for the last seven years.

We started this session with great concerns about our incoming revenues with gas and coal prices down. This resulted in less money to spend. During this general session, the Legislature considered bills brought by legislators that reflect the concerns of their constituents. Two examples are the clerk’s bill – HB#98 that could increase more revenue for Uinta County by approximately $80,000, and HB#131 known as the burbot bill that classifies burbot as a non-game fish so they can be discarded.

There were 429 bills introduced and 206 turned into statutes or laws by which Wyoming people will have to live. A concern of myself and other legislators is we now have a mini-budget session where we appropriate, mainly general fund money, to agencies that have their legislators present a budget amendment to get more money. The concern is that in the regular budget session last year, the Legislature appropriated a two-year budget. That was supposed to be the money the agencies used to run their departments for the next two years. Last year the State saved $60 million with agency cuts, but then spent $140 million.

I had a bill to stop this by saying we would only fund emergencies in a general session but it was not supported by leadership and it died in committee.

Of the 429 bills introduced that received the most attention were the 10 cents a gallon fuel tax increase, the so called Cindy Hill bill, which greatly reduced the state superintendents responsibilities, employees and budget; and the three gun bills – to allow carry in schools with a concealed carry permit, to not allow restrictions on where a person could carry beyond state law and to not allow the federal government to take the guns away of Wyoming residents. Other bills included the game and fish license fee increase, a state lottery bill, a bill to allow home grown foods to be sold, more law enforcement in schools, $3 million to study year round schools, some Hathaway scholarship changes and a suppressor-hunting bill. These were just a few of the bills that were introduced. Bills supported by the Governor and the House and Senate leadership had priority whether or not legislators supported the bills. We, Legislators from southwest Wyoming, were mostly conservative and were mainly on the losing side of the votes.

It was great to have the input of the people we represent. Your e-mails, calls and messages were appreciated as we, at a very fast pace, went through many bills each day. I would continually encourage you to be involved with the legislative process. Take time to look at the legislative website-wyoleg.gov, to see what really happened during this last session. It had all the bills that were discussed, how each legislator voted, what happened to the bills, and information about all the legislators and our leadership in the state.

For your information, there are 60 House members – 52 are Republicans, and eight are Democrats. There are 30 senators – 26 are Republicans, and four are Democrats. With this large republican majority, why did we raise taxes, take the superintendents responsibilities away and not pass any gun legislation?

We, as legislators, appreciate hearing from each of our constituents to let us know your thoughts and ideas.

For the complete article see the 03-08-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-08-2013 paper.

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