Guest Column: Ogden Driskill and Albert Sommers' 2024 Legislative Preview

Senate President Ogden Driskill and House Speaker Albert Sommers write, "As the presiding officers of our respective chambers, we will focus on fighting rising costs like property taxes and electric utility increases, placing parents in the driver’s seat of their children’s education, and supporting mental health programs for our fellow neighbors."

CS
CSD Staff

January 10, 20245 min read

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2024 Legislative Preview

As the Wyoming Legislature readies for 20 days of discussion and debate ahead of the 2024 Legislative Budget Session, we prepare for this work as servants to the people of our communities. Over the past eight months, legislative committees have held 62 standing committee meetings around the state. At these meetings, committees gathered public input and industry perspectives to draft common sense conservative solutions to the problems we face together.

As the presiding officers of our respective chambers, we will focus on fighting rising costs like property taxes and electric utility increases, placing parents in the driver’s seat of their children’s education, and supporting mental health programs for our fellow neighbors.

While most of the committees have completed their work, not all of the committee bills have been posted to the legislative website. 2024 Budget Session bills can be viewed at https://wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2024. Key topics and updates from those committees follow:

APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE- In the process of developing a conservative, balanced budget. This duty is a constitutional requirement, making it our highest priority.

REVENUE COMMITTEE- Advanced a few measures proposed to tackle the problem of escalating property taxes that rise above the rest, which provide needed relief for Wyoming people. A property tax exemption bill for long-term homeowners will mirror a provision that nearly half the states in the U.S. have. The legislation grants a resident who has paid residential property taxes in the state for 30 years and reaches age 65 a 50 percent exemption. Another property tax bill caps the rate of increase in property tax at five percent. Further, a Homestead Exemption that provides some relief to all citizens is another measure that will be considered.

CORPORATIONS COMMITTEE- Focused time on reviewing the Rocky Mountain Power rate hike and zeroed in on drafting bills that insulate our state against misguided multi-state agreements that punish our carbon-based energy economy with taxes put in place by west coast states.

Another priority included election bills that close a campaign finance loophole, enact a 30-day residency requirement for voting in the state, and improves election intimidation statutes.

LABOR COMMITTEE- Continued its steady progress in building key infrastructure and initiatives in order to address Wyoming’s persistent mental health and suicide challenges. The 988 hotline is one of those key strategies, which allows Wyoming people in crisis to reach a call center based in our state in hopes of preventing a suicide. It is important the line is funded to ensure its needed services continue.

Additionally, this committee focused on helping our hospitals and fellow Wyomingites by developing a bill to address prior authorization related to insurance. The proposed bill would guarantee patients access to previously approved treatments and medications.

MINERALS COMMITTEE – Worked to refine laws around Carbon Capture Utilization and Storage. This several year effort remains a high priority designed to help our fossil fuel industry survive changing markets and uncertain DC politics.

EDUCATION COMMITTEE- Is updating the funding model for developmental preschools. The committee also worked several bills that focus on keeping parents in charge of their child’s education with a parental rights bill and education savings account bill.

AGRICULTURE COMMITTEE- Spent the interim supporting Wyoming ag producers. The committee drafted a bill aimed at the development of a compensation measure for cattle ranchers suffering rangeland impacts on private lands when elk are over population objective.

TRAVEL COMMITTEE – Developed an Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund that would be governed in a manner similar to the existing Wyoming Wildlife Natural Resource Trust Fund. The fund would provide grants to local communities for outdoor recreation projects that boost our quality of life here in the cowboy state and aid in helping us diversify our economy.

TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE- Worked on updates to existing statutory definitions and categories of electric vehicles. Electric vehicles should pay a road tax similar to those vehicles that pay a fuel tax at the pump. All vehicles must help pay for upkeep of Wyoming’s highways.

Further, this committee is working to promote an in-state Hazmat license for individuals under 21.

JUDICIARY COMMITTEE – Supported the Division of Criminal Investigation’s efforts to create a statewide database of cold cases for agencies across the state to add to. This will ensure that victims in unsolved investigations are not forgotten.

Another important measure is the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act, which would adopt the Uniform Child Abduction Prevention Act and authorize a district court to order child abduction prevention measures when the evidence establishes a credible risk of abduction.

The 2024 Budget Session of the 67th Legislature will start on February 12, and conclude 20 working days later on March 8. 

Albert Sommers is the Speaker of the House and has served In the Legislature since 2013. Ogden Driskill is the President of the Senate and has served in the Wyoming Legislature since 2011.

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