Legislative Report: Teachers Testify For Tenure [AUDIO]
Tax incentives for mega data centers, a primary seat belt law, concealed weapons and the teacher tenure bill were just some of the issues discussed in the Legislature. Amy Richards has more in Friday's Legislative Report.
This Legislative Report is brought to you by Hilltop National Bank.
A bill that would give data centers a tax exemption passed second reading in the House today (Friday). Cheyenne Rep. Pete Illoway explains House Bill 117.
Rep. Pete Illoway:
"Proposal on 117 is a 50, have to spend 50 million dollars to get any kind of tax relief."
Illoway says there are several companies looking at communities in Wyoming to build these mega data centers.
The Senate Judiciary Committee today (Friday) voted 3-2 to recommend approval of a bill sponsored by Torrington Republican Sen. Curt Meier, which proposes to allow voters to decide whether to amend the State Constitution to exclude recognition of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. Meanwhile, the House passed the validity of marriage bill on second reading.
The Senate Education Committee conducted a two-and-a-half hour hearing this (Friday) morning on Senate File 52, the teacher tenure bill. Under current state law, a teacher's contract is automatically renewed annually after three years of teaching unless the teacher resigns, retires or is dismissed under a process that may include hearings and appeals.
The bill sponsored by Republican Sen. Hank Coe of Cody would do away with the automatic contracts. More than a dozen teachers testified against the bill, saying it will hurt education by subjecting teachers to unjust firing and make them fearful of doing their jobs. Proponents say the proposal will bring more accountability to public education by making it easier to fire bad teachers. The Committee is scheduled to begin working the bill on Wednesday.
A bill tightening Wyoming's seat belt law passed second reading in the Senate today (Friday). Sen. Charlie Scott says the bill will allow police officers to pull people over for not wearing seat belts and would increase the fine.
Sen. Charlie Scott:
"There's a very good article in Journal of Public Health that shows that if you go ... first it shows that if you wear your seat belt in a crash, you reduce your rate of being killed, about cut it in half, so wearing seat belts really pays off. Second, Wyoming has about the worst rate in the nation of seat belt usage."
Several lawmakers say they are concerned about the law being too intrusive.
Wyoming residents would be able to carry concealed weapons without a state permit under a bill that passed second reading in the Senate today (Friday). Casper Republican Sen. Kit Jennings says the state and federal constitutions guarantee citizen's gun rights.
Sen. Kit Jennings:
"If this bill passes, what it does is makes us more compliant with the U.S. Constitution and the Wyoming Constitution, because the U.S. Constitution says "we will not infringe" on the rights, and the Wyoming Constitution says we will not pass any laws against the right. So that's what we're doing, is we're becoming more constitutional with this bill."
Democratic Sen. Chris Rothfuss of Laramie tried to amend the bill to require some firearms training.
Sen. Chris Rothfuss:
"In current statute, you have to show some training, some qualification before you're allowed to concealed carry. That's removed in this bill, so, while I recognize the fact that most people in Wyoming know what they're doing, not everyone does."
That amendment failed. The bill moves on to third and final reading in the Senate.
With the Legislative Report, I'm Amy Richards for K2 Radio news.