The Flood Gates Are Open
On Tuesday, 12 January 2021, the 66th Legislature of the State of Wyoming convened at 1:00pm in a mixed in-person and virtual . This General Session will reflect the accommodations made necessary over the last 10 months as the State, Nation and World deal with the COVID-19 pandemic. The Joint Interim Committee meetings provided a learning opportunity for the legislators of the 65th, the Legislative Service Office and the public on how to effectively conduct business in a virtual environment that not only ensures the business of the committees take place but that the public continues to have the ability to engage in the process.
The rich tradition of in-person interaction by legislators, staff, lobbyists and the public in the "sausage making" that is the Legislative Branch responsibility will be severely curtailed as the logistics of safety and security for all take precedence. Notably, the session staff critical to conducting the work of the legislature are primarily retirees at high risk. Leadership acknowledged this in proposing the hybrid virtual and in-person schedule. The Constitutional mandated actions and process needs were completed on Tuesday afternoon before the body adjourned until 27 January. Those actions included certifying election results, electing and swearing in leadership for both houses, adopting temporary rules, receiving an address by the Governor, introducing and referring committee sponsored bills to standing committees to work the week of 18 January.
On 18 January, the Management Council will meet. The remaining standing committees will hold their virtual meetings on January 19, 20 & 21. The agendas for those meetings can be found at: https://www.wyoleg.gov/Calendar/20210115/Meeting. It may be necessary to scroll to the week of 18 January to view. Each committee meeting lists the bills under consideration, the time and provides action buttons under Details with Information, Testify and Watch. In order to speak to the committee on one of the bills, pre-registration to Testify is required.
On Wednesday, January 27, the General Session will be reconvened via Zoom to consider the bills worked the previous week. Two dates are of particular interest. Cross-over Day is when bills introduced in one house (house of origin), are required to be approved through third reading and sent to the second house. Any bills that did not complete the process will be taken up during the next reconvened session. On Monday, February 1, Final Rules will be adopted in both houses. After this date, any changes to the rules will require 2/3 approval rather than majority. Prior to adjourning this virtual session, additional bills will be introduced and referred to standing committees to work the week of February 22. The Budget Bill must be available to the Public by February 22.
If health metrics allow, the third Session will be reconvened as in person on Monday 1 March and continue through Friday, April 2 before adjourning no later than Midnight. The last day for Senate Files to be submitted to LSO for introduction is set for noon on Wednesday, March 3. The last day for House Bills to be submitted for introduction is noon on Monday, March 8. That week is designated as Budget Week with Committee of the Whole, 2nd Reading and 3rd Reading completed. To reconcile differences between the mirrored budget bills, the Joint Conference Committee will work on the Budget bill the week of 15 March.
Although the General Session is, by necessity, being broken into three, the processes for proposed bills remain the same. A depiction of that process through committee and floor readings is available under File Share on this site as "Legislative Process General Session" dated Jan 16, 2019 at the bottom of the listed files. https://www.civics307.com/file-share.
There are 63 Senate Files and 66 House Bills numbered and available for introduction prior to convening on 12 February. This included 114 Joint Interim Committee Sponsored bills and 15 Individual sponsored. The Senate introduced and referred to Standing Committees 57 Committee sponsored bills while the House referred 39. "Session Bill Tracker 2021" is also available as the first file under File Share on this site. https://www.civics307.com/file-share. A hyperlink on the Bill number will bring up the LSO official posting of the bill which includes the full text. The Catch Title, Latest Status, Status Date, Sponsor, Category, whether committee or individuals, Bill Date and Origin Committee referred to are filled out and will be updated at least weekly during committee meetings and then daily as the bills progress.