Management council sets interim topics, legislature adjourned February 27thBy Gregory Nickerson February 26, 2013
The House and Senate heard all the bills on their schedule and adjourned on Wednesday, February 27th, four days before the 40-day deadline for finishing the General Session.
The night before the close of the session, Wyoming’s Joint Management Council met to approve interim topics chosen by legislative committees. In total, 21 regular committees and select committees will meet in the interim to discuss topics ranging from juvenile justice to landfill remediation.
Many of the interim topics will continue discussions that didn’t get fully resolved this session. Legislators will revisit funding for the Game and Fish Department after voting down hunting license fee increases this session. They will also consider highway funding since the gas tax passed this month will cover a portion of the projected $134 million shortfall. Less than $70 million of the gas tax money will go to the Department of Transportation, with the rest going to local communities.
Interim committees will also take a serious look at juvenile justice, an issue that didn’t get much attention this session, but has been a major topic of debate in the past.
The Select Committee on Education Accountability will continue work on reforming schools, while the Education Committee will look at topics like early childhood education and the Jason Flatt Act, which is aimed at suicide prevention.
After voting down optional Medicaid expansion this session, the legislature will continue to work on health care reform in the interim. In particular, the Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Committee will monitor how the Affordable Care Act affects state health programs. It will also reexamine the possibility of Medicaid expansion.
The Revenue Committee plans to take on the large and potentially problematic topic of reorganizing statutes that cover special districts. Laws relating to hospitals, water, fire, and other districts are currently spread out in many parts of Wyoming’s statutes. The Management Council noted that consolidating those laws into one place would likely take several years, and might be better accomplished by an outside entity.
Finally, the Corporations Committee will take a serious look at telecommunications issues in preparation for a total rewrite of telecom law slated for 2015.
Many of the interim committees have tentative dates set for their work sessions, typically with a two-day meetings in the spring, summer and fall. The membership and schedules for the committees is available here.
Ironically, some of the bills that come out of the interim committee process promptly die when the session rolls around. Membership changes often leave session committees with only a handful of members that studied the issue in the interim and helped draft legislation. The House version of the silencer bill suffered this fate in the 2013 session, only to be brought back as a Senate File later on.