Republicans work toward a balanced budget

Erin Mullins

Week two of the budget session saw changes to the budget allocations and a passing of HB 45. 

House Bill 45, a bill for property tax exemption-residential structures, passed out of the revenue committee and then passed the house, Representative Dalton Banks, R-Cowley, said. 

“We are in week two of the budget session, and we are deep into the budget. As we work on second reading, there are 80 amendments to the budget either increasing or decreasing allocations,” Banks said. “We will work through each one in an attempt to put out a balanced budget.”

Banks said HB 168, which prohibits foreign ownership of agricultural land, is being heard in committee. He hopes it will pass this week. HB 81, which makes public officer training more flexible and less burdensome, passed the house on second reading. 

The bill Banks has co-sponsored to add $40 million to the 988 suicide hotline trust fund passed the two-thirds threshold to be introduced to the House and is waiting to be heard in committee. 

“The governor has made it a priority to address mental health around the state, and this will go a long way toward that initiative,” he said. 

Banks said he would continue to work toward good solutions with his political colleagues to address Wyoming’s problems. He said much can be done when working together, which has been one of his focuses this session. 

HB 63, which prohibited sex and gender changes for children, failed in the house. Banks said it is OK that the bill failed, because there were parts of the bill which were not good enough for it to be a law. Instead, Chloe’s Law, which prohibits children from changing their gender, passed the House and is being heard in the Senate. 

Banks said he wants public feedback on HB 203, a property tax reduction and replacement act. HB 203 is currently on general file in the House. The bill would eliminate most property taxes and increase the sales tax by 2%. 

Banks said he felt the bill still needs to be worked through before it gets passed, but he wants to get feedback from those back home before he forms a final opinion.