Legislative Updates – March 30-April 1


Hello Sublette County, this is Albert Sommers reporting to you from Cheyenne on March 30, 2021. Today on third reading, the House passed 12 bills that I supported, including SF0033, Physician Assistants Amendments, which amends the practice act for physician assistants by giving them more autonomy to provide health care to their patients. Rural Wyoming needs more options for health care.

Also passed was SF0155, Limiting Firearm Seizure and Regulation During Emergencies, which forbids local government from closing or limiting the operating hours of any person or entity engaged in the lawful selling or servicing of any firearm, ammunition or other personal weapon, unless the closing of operating hours applies equally to all forms of commerce within the jurisdiction of the state, political subdivision or governmental entity.

Today, the House debated several bills in Committee of the Whole that I supported, including SF0066, Slayer Rule Applied to Joint Ownership, which helps settle estates of individuals who have murdered a spouse. The complication lies when an individual kills a spouse and both parties have children from other marriages. Should the children of the murderer be punished for the transgressions of the parent, and receive none of the estate? An amendment passed COW that would split the estate of the murderer between the murderer’s heirs and the spouse’s heirs. This was an interesting debate about fairness.

COW also considered SF0126, Real Estate Subdivisions - Easement Requirements, which would allow counties to accept easements of a width less than 20 feet, if the subdivider demonstrates that the easement is adequate to protect the safety and health of the public.

More information about these bills and many more can be found at https://wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2021.

I can be reached at [email protected] with questions or comments.

Thank you.

Hello Sublette County, this is Albert Sommers reporting to you from Cheyenne on March 31, 2021. Today on third reading, the House passed eight bills that I supported, including SF0096, Homicide Amendments, which creates a charge of double homicide for an individual who kills a pregnant woman. I supported this bill because of the heinous nature of the crime and the fact that two lives are lost.

An interesting procedural move occurred on this bill today, when a House member brought an amendment that would have eliminated the death penalty. This amendment triggered an immediate request for a Rules Committee meeting to determine whether the amendment was germane to the bill.

Wyoming has a one-title provision in our constitution, preventing unrelated measures from being debated in a bill. Further, Article 3 Section 20 of our constitution forbids an amendment to change the intent of the bill. Often members push the limit of these constitutional provisions, with the result that another member will ask for a Rules Committee meeting to determine if the amendment or motion is within the scope of the bill title.

The House Rules Committee consists of 13 of the most experienced members in the body. This body provides the speaker of the House with a recommendation on whether a motion or amendment has violated the body’s rules or Wyoming’s constitution. Then the speaker makes a ruling. If the speaker rules that the motion is out of order, the member who brought the motion can appeal the decision to the entire body and a majority vote of the body rules.

This happened twice today, with SF96 one of those instances. The body ruled that repealing the death penalty was out of order and the bringer of the amendment had to withdraw the amendment. These are usually great debates. I usually have a very narrow interpretation on what is germane to a bill.

Today, Senate Files that passed Committee of the Whole in the House and which I supported included SF0034, Born Alive Infant - Means of Care, which requires any physician performing an abortion to take medically appropriate and reasonable steps to preserve the life and health of an infant born alive. This bill was substantially cleaned up from last session and easily passed the body. There are good debates on both sides of this bill but in the end, I supported it.

SF0130, Charter Schools, would have radically changed our charter school laws as originally written. The House Education Committee, on which I serve, heavily amended this bill into a study bill. Wyoming has not studied and updated its charter school laws in over 10 years. It is time we reviewed them through the interim.

I have serious concerns about the effects of charter schools on our public schools, but we should not ignore that good charter schools exist. As I continue to serve on House Education, I look forward to studying this topic in more detail.

More information about these bills and many more can be found at https://wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2021.

I can be reached at [email protected] with questions or comments.

Thank you

Hello Sublette County, this is Albert Sommers reporting to you from Cheyenne on April 1, 2021. Today on third reading, the House passed eight bills, including SF0114, State Land Leases, which updates the law on how vacant state land will be leased. State land is generally leased for commodity purposes like grazing and there is a process that allows for a preference to a current leaseholder for the next period of the lease. However, what happens if the lessee abandons the state lease, and this vacant lease needs to be issued to a new leaseholder? SF114 would give preference to an adjacent landowner of the vacant state land. I supported this bill because an adjacent landowner can be impacted by whoever is awarded the vacant state lease, so I believe they should have preference.

One bill died on third reading, SF0004, Airport Districts, which would have allowed county commissioners the authority to create a special district for the purpose of funding an airport. I supported the bill because airports are critical for community economic development.

Today, in Committee of the Whole, the House passed several Senate files, including SF0076, Broadband Development Program - Amendments, which updates an existing state broadband program. This bill would allow state money to be utilized for “middle mile” projects, such as a fiber project between two communities. The bill would also allow a state agency to partner with a broadband provider to develop a project. Fast, reliable broadband is key to the economic future of this state. I was a co-sponsor of this bill.

Also passing COW today was SF0127, Wyoming Learn While You Earn Program. This bill allows school districts, community colleges and businesses to explore a career technical education program that is based upon a student learning while they work. The student would earn credits towards a credential program while working and earning wages from a business. I think this is an outstanding way for a student to learn a trade while getting paid and receiving credits. I am a co-sponsor of this bill.

More information about these bills and many more can be found at https://wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2021.

Advertisement