Wyoming Senator Kolb and Wyoming Representative Stith give update on General Session

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Photos Courtesy of State of Wyoming

Emma Marsing, [email protected]

ROCK SPRINGS, WYOMING — Tonight at the Rock Springs City Council Meeting, Wyoming Senate District 12 Senator John Kolb, and House District 48 Representative Clark Stith gave an update and further information on the bills and budgets from the General Session that will affect the Rock Springs community, Sweetwater County as a whole, and the State of Wyoming.

Senator Kolb was the first one to speak this evening in front of the Mayor and Council. Senator Kolb began by stating that the things he will be speaking about are just regarding the Senate. Senator Kolb explained that the Senate took 1,150 votes during the session and had approximately 200 bills in the Senate with roughly 300 in the House. To begin his detailed speech, the first topic was the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. Senator Kolb stated, “We did a little bit of rendering in the Senate, and with that, we put back in $15.3 million dollars that’s available to communities for projects locally, that you have to apply for. So there’s money out there that you can apply for, for what you think is important. There’s more money there than there was before.”

Senator Kolb moved into a Shooting Complex Bill for a State Shooting Facility that has made its way out of the House and Senate. Senator Kolb stated, “There’s a maximum appropriation with a few caveats in there with $10 million dollars.” Senator Kolb hopes to work together as a community to present a plan to the committee that will make recommendations to the legislators on where to put the facility. Senator Kolb also mentioned that Sweetwater County will be in direct competition with Casper and Cheyenne. “There is a lot of opportunity if we work together.”

 

Senator Kolb further explained a few bills that they discussed during their time in Cheyenne that have a direct effect on city governments. Senate File 164, took away advertising requirements for contracts under $75,000. “It gives in this case, city council more flexibility.” This bill also took away the bid bond requirements for vehicle purchases under $100,000. Senator Kolb explained that with this bill it will allow a lot more flexibility for companies in terms of buying vehicles. Senate File 148, is a presumption of local firearms regulations. This bill will provide consistency between all cities and state laws regarding firearms. Senate Bill 139, which originally stemmed from Attorney Erramouspe through Senator Kolb, focuses on the unlawful use of a credit card. Before the session, there was no law that was set where one could be charged with fraud or theft of a credit card/debit card. House Bill 123, the collection sheds antlers bill, gives WY state residents a seven-day advantage to collect their sheds. Senator Kolb ended with two other bills. One bill allows recreational off-road vehicles to cross interstates through a statutory mechanism. The second bill is the cooperation between cities and counties to introduce new roads to the official trail list. Senator Kolb also wanted to note that the local distribution money to Rock Springs is roughly $2.5 million.

Representative Stith, who was noted to be in line for Speaker of the House, was the next one to speak tonight. His main focus of the night was to talk about the budgets from the General Session. Representative Stith began with the numbers regarding the Supplemental Budget Bill, according to Representative Stith Wyoming saved $1.4 billion dollars, making it a new record for the state. Representative Stith explained that “Over half of that savings went to K-12 education in one form or another, either in permanent or reserve accounts.” On the spending side, the Supplemental Budget Bill spent $380 million. In terms of the Capital Construction Bill, the University was granted $120 million for new dorms, new west stands at War Memorial Stadium, and $12 million for the new Science Initiative building. Representative Stith stated, “It’s kind of an education theme there.” On the spending side for K-12, over half of the $380 million that was spent, went to K-12 operations.

Local distribution funds were increased by $26 million statewide, giving Rock Springs an extra $854,000. In terms of House Bills, Representative Stith explained that House Bill 99, property tax relief, has been increased to 125% of the median income for your county. Representative Stith explained that a household in Sweetwater County makes around $96,000 for this refund.

Voters for the 2024 election can look forward to voting on whether they want to treat residential property differently than commercial property. Representative Stith explained that the biggest issue with property tax reform has been “If you give a break to residential property taxpayers, you have to give the same break to commercial property owners.”

On March 16, 2023, beginning at 6:00 p.m., Senators and Representatives from Sweetwater County will be holding a Legislative Panel at Western Wyoming Community College where they will go further in-depth on the General Session. The public is welcome to attend.