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Legislative Report: Determining Priorities [AUDIO]

Lawmakers wind up week one by setting priorities and getting down to work. Amy Richards has more in Friday’s Legislative Report.

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I spoke with several lawmakers about their priorities for the session. Natrona County Rep. Lisa Shepperson says one of her priorities is dealing with property rights.

Rep. Lisa Shepperson, property rights:

“The first one has to do with that Lusby case that we dealt with on the river. Basically what’s happened there is it’s kind of changed the philosophy on takings with the Game and Fish. And we just want to make sure that our state agencies can’t take any private property rights without due process, so that’s what one of my bills is dealing with: the Game and Fish cannot take any lands via prescriptive easement or adverse possession.”

Rep. Shepperson says she is also sponsoring a bill that would prohibit certain private real estate transfer fees.

Rep. Shepperson, transfer fees:

“And what’s happening with some of those bigger subdivisions is they’re having a hard time moving some of those properties, so the developers are putting fees on those, and if somebody buys that land and sells it down the road, five or ten years or even 90 years down the road, the developer actually gets 1 to 2 percent of that sales price.”

Cheyenne Rep. Bryan Pederson, a member of the Joint Appropriations Committee, says while he agrees local governments need additional revenue, he’s not sure the governor’s propsoal to divert 1/2 percent of the severence tax money going into the PMTF is the right way to go.

Rep. Bryan Pederson, funding:

“And obviously, even before we would go into the spending policy reserve account, I’d rather go in the LSRA, the Legislative Stabilization Account. It’s far more appropriate to do that kind of funding that way. And I believe that we may end up with a one-time funding, and then as far as an ongoing funding mechanism, I believe that is more appropriate for a budget session.”

Pederson says he does support the governor’s request for money to improve infrastructure to attract data centers to the state.

Rep. Pederson, data centers:

“We are a great target for these types of facilities and I also believe they bring in…help diversify our economy, and I also believe they bring in higher paying jobs, jobs that can help distribute more cash back into the economy through the goods and services that they’ll be purchasing while they’re here.”

Natrona County Sen. Bill Landen says his priorities include business development and jobs.

Sen. Bill Landen, bring in jobs:

“You know, I actually share the governor’s thought on business development. I think we’ve got to do everything we can to try to put our people back to work. We’re very fortunate in Wyoming and it looks like we’re on the upturn. That’s the good news, so anything related to business development, anything related to jobs, I’m going to be very interested in; I’m going to work very hard on that front.”

Sen. Landen says he is also concerned about accountability in education.

Sen. Landen, education:

“And I think that comes about simply because of the amount of money that Wyoming invests in education. I think everyone down here wants to do everything we can, to do what we can for our teachers out there, and to make sure that we’re getting a good bang for the buck.”

Freshman Sen. Chris Rothfuss of Laramie also lists education as one of his top priorities along with economic development issues.

Sen. Chris Rothfuss, tax base:

“From an economic development standpoint, we don’t have the oil and gas operations. We don’t have a good tax base. We don’t have a lot of good income as far as the city of Laramie or the county of Albany County is concerned, so there really are some economic development issues.”

Although state offices will be closed on Monday for the Martin Luther King Jr. Equality Day, the Wyoming Legislature will be in session. All committee meetings and floor sessions will be held as normal. With the Legislative Report, I’m Amy Richards for K2 Radio News.

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