Dominant issues Wyoming needs to address/work on

Dear Citizens of Uinta County and House District 19

By REP. JON CONRAD Representative - HD19
Posted 1/10/24

Rep. Jon Conrad looks at upcoming legistative issues

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Dominant issues Wyoming needs to address/work on

Dear Citizens of Uinta County and House District 19


This year (2023) has been an eventful year with successes, challenges and many opportunities to secure more results for our communities. Let me share with you my work since the legislative session and my focus in 2024.

Rocky Mountain Power (RMP) Rate Increase: I testified in front of the Wyoming Public Service Commission (PSC) in Casper, the Joint Corporations Committee in Douglas as well as meeting with the CEO of RMP and many citizens and businesses against an average rate increase of 21.6%. I am pleased to report that the PSC agreed to a reduced rate increase for all customers at 8.3%. The PSC also approved a settlement that will refund $9 million in overpayments to RMP customers, lowering a rate hike for the first six months of 2024 from 8.3% to 5.5%. Additionally, PSC denied RMP’s request to change the cost sharing from the 20% to 80% split (Wyoming customers responsible for 80% and the RMP responsible for 20%) for future cost overrun to 0% (Wyoming RMP customers would be responsible for 100% of the costs).

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Rock Springs Resource Management Plan (RMP): I continue to work aggressively to prevent this blatant example of governmental overreach. At the Agriculture and Select Water Committee meeting in Pinedale on Sept. 12, 2023, we had the BLM testify in front of us regarding the RMP. As a member of this Committee, I had the opportunity to question them specifically on the impact the RMP would have on our citizens, businesses and the State of Wyoming. It was obvious during this and subsequent testimony the overreach of the Federal government continues to infringe upon our daily lives, livelihoods and way of life.

Uinta County International Shooting Complex: During the Legislative Session, SF0169 - State shooting complex task force was passed. The vision of the complex would have archery, shooting clays, trap/skeet, pistol and rifle (including long range capability). This complex would be for year-round activities with meeting rooms, retail and shopping experiences. I believe Uinta County is the best choice of such a facility within the State. I am aggressively promoting Uinta County as the location.

2024 Legislative Session – Objectives: The 2024 Budget Session of the Wyoming Legislature will begin Monday, Feb. 12. The following are five areas I am driving for approval that are critical to our citizens and providing much needed support.

  1. Property Tax – Recall there were 20 property tax relief bills introduced last session. Unfortunately, we were unable to hear 18 of them. The three we did get an opportunity to hear were: 1) a bill expanding funding for Wyoming’s property tax refund program (HB0099 – 2023, passed), 2) a resolution calling for a constitutional amendment to make residential property into its own tax class (SJ0003 – 2023, passed for General Election Ballot) and 3) a bill commissioning a feasibility study on the so-called “acquisition” property tax mode.
    1. 24LSO-0184, Property tax-inflation cap. If enacted into law, this bill would limit maximum value of increase by CPI or 5% (whatever is less). This is a demonstrable action to combat the ever-increasing property tax increases we are all seeing. As a note, this requires a constitutional amendment to separate residential property from “all other” which will be on the ballot in the 2024 election.
    2. 24LSO-0188 Property tax exemption for long term homeowners. If enacted into law, this bill would create a property tax exemption for residential real property used as a primary residence, if the owner or their spouse is 65 years of age or older and the owner or their spouse has paid residential property tax in Wyoming for 35 years or more on any residential property, the amount of the exemption shall be 50% of the assessed value of the residential real property;
    3. 24LSO-0252 Property tax refund program. Expanding Property Tax Relief specifically. The 2023 bill (HB0099) that increased the maximum household income to qualify for the program from 75% of the median gross household income of the county or state to 125% of the median gross household income was successful. This enabled 8,813 applications to be refunded $8,263,783.84. The 2024 proposed bill would provide additional targeted relief to Wyoming homeowners. Specifically, expanding eligibility to 175% of the median gross household income for the applicant's county of residence or the state, as determined annually by the economic analysis division of the department of administration and information.
  2. 988 Suicide Prevention/Mental Health: Extremely disappointing was the inability to get approval on funding the 988 Suicide Hotline (HB0065 - 988 suicide prevention). An incredible amount of effort was put into this as well as speaking emphatically on the floor for this necessity. Unfortunately, there were those who blocked the bill funding. I will continue to try and find funding this while also expanding the 988 suicide prevention hotline capacities to add text and chat services.
  3. Parental Bill of Rights: 24LSO-0076.
    1. Notify a student's parent or guardian as soon as practicable if there is a change in the student's services or monitoring related to the student's physical, mental, or emotional health or well-being and the school's ability to provide a safe and supportive learning environment for the student.
    2. Not prohibit parents or guardians from accessing any of their student's education and health records created, maintained or used by the school district.
  4. Increased PSC Requirements for Rate Increases: 24LSO-0232. Electricity rates for costs that do not benefit Wyoming. 24LSO-0273 v0.4 Public service commission-integrated resource plans. 24LSO-0274 v0.3 Public utilities-net power cost sharing ratio. 24LSO-0275 v0.3 Public utilities-energy resource procurement.
  5. Education Savings Account: 24LSO-0052. Solves two education funding challenges in Wyoming by giving poorer families more K12 educational choices, including early childhood and K12 private education.