By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
A bill that would have laid out the process for evaluating the state’s possible purchase of 1 million acres of land in southern Wyoming was vetoed Friday by Gov. Mark Gordon.
Gordon vetoed Senate File 138, one of several measures proposed during the Legislature’s recent budget session to allow the possible purchase of the land from Occidental Petroleum.
The bill would have called for the State Land and Investment Board, made up of the state’s top five elected officials, to study the possible sale and report back to the Legislature, which would decide how and whether to finance the purchase.
Gordon, in his veto letter, said the final version of the bill imposed too many requirements for reports by the executive branch to the Legislature.
“The end result is a vehicle so heavily laden with legislative baggage that the ability to conduct thorough and appropriate due diligence takes a back seat to mandated reports and recommendations,” he wrote.
As written, the bill also raises concerns about the appropriate roles of the legislative and executive branch in such investments, Gordon said.
“In particular as ultimately passed, the act contemplates giving final decision making authority over an executive branch function to the legislative branch,” he wrote. “While there is a role for both branches of government in a transaction such as this, we must be ever mindful that each role must be exercised in the proper manner and at the proper time in the process.”
Gordon said the executive branch will continue its efforts to evaluate the purchase and will report any progress to the Legislature. He also committed to honoring all the requirements for public comment and public involvement in the purchase that were outlined in the bill.
Gordon thanked the legislators who worked with him to draft the legislation in its original form.
“Members of the Legislature and my office worked tirelessly crafting a process to provide the ability to conduct due diligence on the land and assets being offered for sale to the State of Wyoming,” he wrote. “I appreciate everyone’s efforts.”