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House begins final day by killing three bills

in Government spending/News/Health care/Taxes
Graduates toss their caps in the air, ALT=Wyoming to offer bachelors degrees at community colleges

By Cowboy State Daily

The first three bills to be reviewed by Wyoming’s House on what was scheduled to be the last day of its 2019 general session did not fare well on Wednesday.

Bills addressing Medicaid eligibility, the payment of sales tax on large construction projects and the role of the state Select Committee on School Facilities in construction projects all died in their third and final reading on the House floor.

However, a bill designed to encourage students to pursue technical courses at the state’s community colleges was approved, as was a bill that would allow community colleges to offer bachelor’s degrees in applied science.

The Legislature scheduled itself to end its session on Wednesday. Legislators spent much of the day addressing Gov. Mark Gordon’s veto of 14 footnotes to the supplemental budget.

The House was the only chamber with regular business left to address — eight bills on third and final reading.

But SF 103, 114 and 144 all died on their final votes.

SF 144 would impose requirements for those receiving Medicaid assistance to either work, attend school or complete volunteer duty. The bill, which died on a vote of 39-20, would have exempted those with serious medical problems from the requirement.

SF 103 would have expanded the role of the Select Committee on School Facilities to oversee community college and state capital construction projects. It died on a vote of 51-8.

SF 114 would have allowed companies building industrial facilities to work out contracts for the payment of sales and use taxes on those facilities over 20 years. It was killed in a vote of 33-25.

However, in a session that ran well past 7 p.m., representatives approved SF 111, a bill that would let community colleges offer bachelor’s degrees in applied science, approving the measure on a vote of 51-8.

Also approved was SF 122, a bill that would provide grants for students wishing to pursue technical programs at community colleges. Dubbed the “Wyoming Works Program,” it would also provide funding for community colleges to offer such programs. Students would not be required to have a high school diploma to take part in the program.

SF 134, a bill that would provide exemptions for some oil and natural gas production from wells that had been shut down and then restarted, was also approved.

Gordon’s vetoes detailed

in Government spending/News

Gov. Mark Gordon vetoed 14 footnotes to the Legislature’s supplemental budget bill on Tuesday, saying many of them went beyond what is allowed under Wyoming’s Constitution.

Gordon, in his veto letter to legislative leadership, said most of the vetoed footnotes in essence created law and should have been addressed in separate legislation or were not directly related to the state’s budget. Others, he said, directed the executive branch to take certain actions in violation of rules regarding the separation of power between the executive and legislative branches.

Below is a list of the footnotes vetoed by the governor and his explanation for the action.

Governor’s office: The footnote would have directed the governor to review and report recommendations on how to make state permanent funds “inflation proof.”

“This provision is not related to the ‘ordinary expenses’ of state government … and should be a single-topic piece of legislation and should not be included in an appropriations bill.

Department of Administration and Information: The footnote directs the Department of A&I to prepare standard procedures to complete a cost benefit analysis of all future state leases.

“Because these types of provisions are substantive lawmaking, they should be placed in single-subject bills and not included in the budget act.”

State Engineer’s office: The footnote eliminated two positions in the office, even though the office was not requesting any additional money.

“The State Engineer’s office … is prepared to have one position eliminated, however, this budget cuts two positions instead of one and there is a person currently in the other position. I must … preserve the one filled position otherwise there could be an unintended riff of an employee.”

Department of Transportation: Two footnotes were vetoed. One would require the department to consult with a senator and representative before entering into long-term contracts for air service.

“This footnote raises a separation of powers issue because the Legislature … is controlling and managing the day-to-day operations of the executive branch — a practice that encroaches upon the inherent prerogatives of the executive branch.”

The second footnote directs the department to hire a consultant to conduct a cost benefit analysis of continued use of a state airplane.

“The subject and directives in this provision are beyond appropriations for ‘ordinary expenses’ of state government and should be ‘made by a separate bill’… Considering there was a separate bill contemplating the same intent that could not pass the Legislature I use my line item veto authority.”

Wyoming Business Council: Three footnotes were vetoed. One would require the WBC to use $100,000 of its budget to develop new markets for Wyoming agriculture products in Asian markets.

“There is nearly $2 million available for this mission in the ENDOW account and I believe that is the right funding source. My veto is based on legislative overreach into the affairs of the executive branch.”

The second footnote would bar the spending of some money from the WBC’s Business Ready Community Program without legislative action.

“Thus, as drafted, this restriction limits an appropriation already given.”

The third footnote would require the WBC to set aside $250,000, to be matched with private funds from Wyoming manufacturers, to hire and defense manufacturing procurement officer to help lure aerospace and federal defense contracts to the state.

“The spending direction in this section of the budget bill is narrow in scope and overrides the well-established process for economic development by directly instructing the outcome.”

Department of Education: The footnote directs the department to spend $100,000 to pay for a “pilot principal education program” to be run by Sheridan County schools, where a similar program is already in place.

“I believe school districts already have access to aspects of this program … (The footnote) bypasses the multi-professional team which works on state and federally funded support programs.”

School capital construction: The footnote sets aside $4.9 million for security projects in the state’s schools that are approved by the School Facilities Comission in consultation with local school districts.

“I believe my line item veto clarifies that this consultation can happen and that the commission will utilize its authority … but does not limit spending to only the specified priorities.”

Wyoming’s Tomorrow Task Force: The footnote creates a “Wyoming’s Tomorrow Task Force” program similar to a program in place in Tennessee that uses scholarships and mentoring to encourage students to attend in-state colleges. The footnote proposes a program similar to that outlined in failed legislation.

“This provision is not related to the ‘ordinary expenses’ of state government … and the creation of a task force should be done with a single-topic piece of legislation and should not be included in an appropriations bill.”

Flood mitigation: The footnote recommends that the State Loan and Investment Board use $5 million from federal abandoned mine lands funds to pay for flood mitigation projects on Bitter Creek in southwestern Wyoming.

“While I agree that Bitter Creek is a deserving project, I am opposed to the precedent of including AML funding in the budget bill acts.”

Military housing: The footnote provides $500,000 to serve as matching funds for design and construction needed to encourage the development of military housing in southeastern Wyoming.

“This project (has received) $3 million in a Business Ready Community Grant and a $1.3 million loan … The project proponent should return to the Business Council with an updated proposal…”

Higher education study: The footnote requires the University of Wyoming and the state’s seven community colleges to conduct a study to determine how bachelor’s degrees in applied science can be made more accessible throughout the state.

“This provision is not related to the ‘ordinary expenses’ of state government … and should be a single-topic piece of legislation and not be included in an appropriations bill. In fact, this was a single-subject piece of legislation that did not pass.”

Governor vetoes first bill, measure adjusting legislator reimbursement

in News
Governor Gordon veto, ALT=Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon vetos first bill

By Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon on Friday vetoed his first bill, a measure designed to increase the amount legislators are reimbursed for expenses while taking part in legislative work from $109 to $149 per day.

Gordon, in his veto letter to House Speaker Steve Harshman, R-Casper, said while he believes the bill is well-intentioned, it is flawed.

Gordon said the bill would actually reduce the expense reimbursement or “per diem” for legislators living within 25 miles of the Capitol during legislative sessions.

“While the apparent intent of the bill seeks to admit that those living proximate to the State Capitol building most likely do not have to absorb the additional costs of temporary accommodation because they can stay in their homes, the bill does not recognize that other legislators might also be able to avoid those same additional costs by staying with friends or family, for example,” he wrote.

The governor praised legislators for taking the issue up during their general session.

“I want to recognize the Legislature’s diligence in scrutinizing its expenses and providing for a reasonable recognition of the changing costs associated with serving in the Legislature,” he wrote.

If legislators want to reverse the governor’s veto, each chamber must vote for an “override” motion by a two-thirds majority.

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