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Legislative Report: DOH, Wind Tax, Trust Land [AUDIO]

Reorganizing the department of health, how to tax wind energy and what to do with the school trust lands in Grand Teton National Park were on the agenda today in the Legislature. Amy Richards has more in Friday’s Legislative Report.

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This Legislative Report is brought to you by Hilltop National Bank.

The House passed a bill on second reading that would reorganize the department of health. House Majority Floor Leader Rep. Tom Lubnau explains exactly what House Bill 215 would do.

Rep. Tom Lubnau, House Bill 215 DOH:

“House Bill 215 transfers the Medicaid finance office to the direct control of the governor, and serves at the will of the governor, and then authorizes the director of the department of health to study the department of health to see if there are more efficient ways to structure the operations in the department of health, both on the hospital side and the Medicaid side.”

The House gave final approval to House Bill 156, which would authorize the sale of school trust lands in Grand Teton National Park to the federal government. Rep. Ruth Ann Petroff says she’s happy the bill passed the house, but she will continue to educate lawmakers on the bill as it heads to the Senate.

Rep. Ruth Ann Petroff, GTNP bill:

“The bill’s complicated, and the most complicated part about it is to understand how much work went in to developing this agreement. This is probably the best agreement that we’re going to get; it’s either a yes or no deal. It’s good for the schools. And once people have a chance to actually look at all the documentation behind it, it makes a lot of sense.”

A bill that would change the way the state taxes wind passed committee of the whole in the House today. (Friday.) Rep. Tim Stubson says the bill will strike a balance between developing wind power and providing revenue.

Rep. Tim Stubson, what it does:

“So what this does is is it folds the sales tax and the excise tax together into one 3-dollar-a-megawatt-hour tax. It benefits, like I said, it benefits companies because they don’t have to finance that charge, but it benefits us because it builds additional stability into that tax stream that isn’t there now.”

Rep. Stubson says he thinks the Legislature is doing a lot of good things this session, but some of them are being overshadowed by the more high profile issues.

Rep. Stubson, good things:

“For example, we’ve got emerging technologies up in Powder River Basin with, basically, supplementing nutrients into the coal to increase methane production. It’s a technology that can pay off for years and years in the future. And we’ve got a bill moving through to set up a regulatory regime that make sense, that allows that technology to move forward. And that’s huge, and yet you haven’t seen a lot about it.”

The Senate passed a joint resolution on third and final reading today that would put a constitutional amendment before the voters to say residents have the right to hunt, fish and trap in Wyoming. The bill’s sponsor Sen. Larry Hicks.

Sen. Larry Hicks, why do this:

“While this may not be appropriate for other states, clearly it’s an opportunity for the people of Wyoming to kind of control the destiny of the state of Wyoming. And basically what that does is acknowledge our past, acknowledge the values that we have today, and to make sure that those values are represented in the future generations.”

Today was the deadline for bills to be reported out of committee in the house of origin, otherwise they are dead for the session.

With the Legislative Report, I’m Amy Richards for K2 Radio News.

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