On Feb. 12 at 10 a.m., Wyoming’s 2024 budget session will convene in the state Capitol. It is a 20-day session focusing on the biennial budget.
While the session does focus on passing the biennial budget, there will be a number of drafted bills receiving the two-thirds vote for introduction.
Some will be needed to finalize the budget and some will be over current important issues in Wyoming, such as private property tax burdens which need to be resolved. The private property tax issue currently has a number of potential bills addressing the issue.
While reading through these bills, I realize there are a number of ways to hopefully fix the burden of high property taxes. It will take some time for legislators to sort through the bills and narrow down what Wyoming should do.
As many of us realize, property taxes have skyrocketed in the past few years. It has really placed a burden on older folks of fixed income and others as well. One of the reasons it has hurt so many people is because of the large increases.
These increases are caused by property values rapidly rising. This is happening all over the West as people are moving out of big cities and want a piece of Heaven in the West, which really hurts states like Wyoming with a history of low property taxes.
We are not used to higher taxes.
I think we have to be careful with decisions made so they don’t place the state in a bind, where we have to pay a state income tax. We shouldn’t have to trade one issue for another.
Appropriations is always a big issue, and I’ve heard state income is down some $13 million from what was projected. Remember, Wyoming – by state constitution – has to have a balanced budget. What a smart decision by those writing the constitution – this is something we should never change.
There are also a number of bills affecting agriculture that ranchers and farmers need to keep track of and speak up on if needed.
On the Senate files, one bill offered for introduction will authorize the legislature to initiate legal actions against the federal government for actions deemed to be in violation of federal laws related to natural resource management, including federal purchase of land within the state.
The proposed bill would authorize $50 million for legal actions. This bill and others proposed are really needed with all of the federal government overreach coming from Washington, D.C.
Other proposed bills would prohibit using eminent domain across private lands for energy collection systems.
On the House side, there is a potential bill to provide payments to a landowner or lessee of state or private land for forage consumed by wildlife with a number of ways to qualify for payment. It would only last until July 1, 2030. Hopefully, by this time, we have the huge numbers of elk depopulated.
As with legislative sessions in the past, agriculture really has some outstanding lobbyists working on our behalf. They not only keep us in the know, but the legislators depend on them.
During the session, head to Cheyenne and help them or e-mail them and your legislators. Legislators want to hear from you in a positive tone with a solution.
Dennis Sun is the publisher of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup, a weekly agriculture newspaper available online and in print.