Waning Days of 2021 Session
Current Status of Legislation
With just two days of Legislative Session remaining, only 30 of the original 441 numbered bills remain for action. These have all passed 3rd Reading in the second house. Three have reported out of conference committee and await the second chamber acceptance. One has no amendments from the engrossed copy and will be enacted without further voting. Three failed concurrence by the house of origin and conference committees have been assigned to resolve the difference in versions. The remaining 23 will be voted on for concurrence. At least six of those with significant amendments in the second chamber will go to conference. Most of the remaining two days after concurrence votes will be standing at ease while the conference committees work the differences.
House Bill 173 – School finance funding-2 is likely to have the most contentious conference committee. The bill updates the K-12 Education Block Funding model. The Senate version increases the teacher salaries, authorizes the state superintendent of public instruction to accept federal funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), defines essential education services then places requires the state superintendent to distribute federal funds from ARPA to school districts solely for essential education services with responsibilities to monitor. Most notably, the Senate removed the provision for a one-half percent sales tax to be imposed when the Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account balance falls below $650M.
Senate File 127 – Wyoming learn while you earn program will also be interesting to follow in conference committee if it fails concurrence. Representative Harshman successfully amended the bill to incorporate the Wyoming’s tomorrow scholarship bill that had failed in the Senate. The wholesale adoption of the failed bill may cause as much debate (and fireworks) as the Block Funding Model.
The Session Bill Tracker 2021 is updated as of adjournment on Friday, 02 April 2021.
Summary of Supplemental Budget Results
Total of $430M in cuts to programs and services were made from the $500M recommended in the Governor’s Budget. There was some restoration of funding in the Department of Health, specifically for elderly and disabled. The budget does fund $8M for a new Wyoming Innovation Network (WIN) as a collective, organized post-secondary education system across the community colleges and the University of Wyoming. The program will focus on strengthening the workforce, promote entrepreneurism and support economic growth and diversification.
The Legislative Service Office provided a Budget Background between the Governor’s Budget recommendation and the Supplemental Budget submitted by the Joint Appropriation Committee just prior to the start of the session.
The line item vetoes by the Governor were the least in his tenure. This reflects a commitment between the two branches to jointly address challenges in decreasing revenues by evaluating the role of government and what programs and services the state can afford.
The Governor’s Letter explaining the line item vetoes emphasized the commitment to prioritize and work with the Legislature to ensure the State remains fiscally solvent.
Governor Gordon Line Item Vetoes
Section 006 Footnote 4 – A&I Leasing: struck prescriptive language to retain flexibility in emergency or unanticipated leasing. Intent to reduce leasing budget by 28%
Section 007 Footnote 4 – Military Department Veteran’s Museum: removed transfer of responsibility through MOU. This is a significant change that warrants a stand-alone bill.
Section 024 Footnote 8 – State Parks and Cultural Resources Veteran’s Museum: conforming to line item veto in Military Department on transfer of responsibility
Section 053 Footnote 2 – Department of Workforce Services operation of Council on Women’s Issues: removed transfer of responsibility to Wyoming Business council through mandated MOU. Change of authority and responsibility warrants a stand-alone bill.
Section 085 Footnote 1 – Wyoming Business Council operation of Council on Women’s Issues: conforming to line item veto in Workforce Services on transfer of responsibility.
Section 206 Footnote 2 – Department of Education: struck language on at-will employees. Overly prescriptive on agency functions in staffing, workforce and resource allocation. Raises separation of powers concerns.
Section 300 – Budget Balance Transfers (p): eliminates transfer of balance of a Strategic Investment and Projects Account (SIPA) sub-account. An interim topic is appropriate prior to repealing the SIPA.