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Legislative Report: Land Sale Advances [AUDIO]

Data centers, land in Grand Teton National Park and concealed weapons were on the minds of lawmakers today. Amy Richards has more in Friday’s Legislative Report:

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

A bill that would require the Department of Education set up a standard application for charter schools passed the Senate today (Friday) on a 28-1 vote. Kari Cline, executive director of the Wyoming Association of Public Charter Schools, says House Bill 115 is a good bill.

Kari Cline, what it does:

“So it helps applicants to know what to expect and keeps the rigor and standards at a statewide level. And, additionally, I think it give districts a resource to use so that they know what they’re looking at and how they can grade that.”

The state Senate has passed a bill that would grant certain tax exemptions to mega data centers built in Wyoming. House Bill 117 passed on a 24-5 vote Friday. Communications giant Verizon is considering locating a $4 billion data center in Laramie. The Senate amended the bill to include various reporting requirements on the impact of such centers. Republican Sen. John Schiffer of Kaycee says he wants to make sure the state isn’t taken advantage of by companies that benefit from the tax breaks. It now goes back to the House where representatives will consider changes the Senate made to the proposal. The bill’s sponsor Rep. Pete Illoway says he’s pleased the bill passed.

A bill that would authorize the state land board to sell school trust land in Grand Teton National Park to the Department of the Interior for $107 million passed second reading in the Senate. Sen. Leland Christenson says House Bill 156 is the result of a lot of hard work.

Sen. Leland Christenson, GTNP bill:

“I think we still have really good momentum; we’ve got great support on the floor. Today, as you heard, there were two amendments. And one was supported; it just further clarified the state’s role in dealing with the contract. And I thought it was a good amendment; it strengthened the bill overall.”

Sen. Curt Meier tried to amend the bill because he’s not sure the state is getting the best deal.

Sen. Curt Meier, better deal:

“From my perspective, I think there’s a couple of parcels there that we did not get a fair deal on; they’re worth a lot more money than we’re getting for, and I just wanted to open it up to where you’d have that discussion in a free and open market.”

That bill must pass third and final reading in the Senate.

Lawmakers will begin working the 667-million-dollar budget bill on Monday. Rep. Rosie Berger, co-chairman of the Joint Appropriations Committee, says she thinks it is a fair budget. Berger says the two biggest expenditures are education and health care.

Rep. Rosie Berger, budget:

“Mostly with health it’s addressing cost containment, looking at Medicaid overruns, or just looking at how should we serve our citizens better who receive Medicaid. And I think what will come from this session — it’s not so much about the dollars that we’ve allocated to address that overrun and what we anticipate for the spring funding, it’s about how do we go about eligibility.”

Wyoming residents would be able to carry concealed guns without a permit under a bill that has cleared a legislative committee. The House Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee voted 8-1 today (Friday) in favor of the bill, sponsored by Casper Republican Sen. Kit Jennings. The committee amended the bill to specify that people couldn’t carry concealed guns while intoxicated. That bill now goes to the full House for consideration.

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

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