First week of state budget season convenes

Erin Mullins

Dalton Banks, District 26 representative in the Wyoming House of Representatives and Cowley resident, headed into the first week of the budget session of the 67th legislature Monday. The short budget session lasts just 20 business days: it started February 12 and ends March 8.
In a Facebook post days before the budget session on his legislative Facebook page, Banks posted his full priority list for the current session. He stated his number one obligation is to pass a solid, conservative budget that provides necessary services without growing the government.
HB 70, which adds $5.2 million into the direct local government distributions, passed the house on first reading, Banks said this week.
Property tax relief, represented by HB 45 and HB 18, is one of Banks’ main focuses. Dalton said that HB 45, which puts a 5% annual cap on increases to property tax, passed the house on Monday. Dalton said most property tax bills would be voted on Tuesday. HB 18 was introduced and referred to committee, according to the legislative website.
Banks said the agricultural committee was set to hear HB 10 and 11 Tuesday morning. Both bills are currently placed on general file in the house, according to the legislative website. Banks said both bills work on making the leasing process for state lands less burdensome.
HB 10 and HB 11 focus on grace period-state land renewals and lease amendments, respectively, according to the legislative website.
Banks said the mineral committee is hearing HB 32 and HB 34, set to be heard in the house Tuesday. HB 32 revises the permitting process for geological sequestration, while HB 34 is a bill passed yearly to assist solid municipal waste facilities with cease and transfer projects.
HB 32 and HB 34 were introduced and referred to the commitee, according to the legislative website.
The budget session needs a two-third supermajority vote for a bill to pass. This has proven difficult, Banks said.
“Right now, as a whole, the House is working on introducing committee bills that were worked on in the interim. This has proven difficult as it takes a 2/3 vote of the present members to introduce bills, and with the factions in the House, it’s resulted in important bills failing introduction,” he said.
Other land issues Banks is focused on are the overreach of the BLM, both at Rock Springs RMP at large and other instances of federal overreach, as well as preventing the foreign ownership of agricultural property.
Other issues Banks listed as priority for the budget session are expanding access to the 988 suicide prevention hotline and HB 119 to expand mental health grant access for kids. On the topic of mental health, Banks is endorsing HB 63, which prevents sex and gender changes for children, as well as Chloe’s Law, which prohibits children gender change.
Chloe’s law is currently at the Senate for introduction, while HB 63 is in the House for introduction.