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Legislative Report: Amendments Fly [AUDIO]

Lawmakers work through a flurry of budget amendments today. Amy Richards has more in Tuesday’s Legislative Report.

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

The House and Senate continued work on the supplemental budget today (Tuesday). There were 30 second reading amendments in the Senate and 40 in the House. The Senate rejected an amendment that would have provided 1 million dollars for rural fire departments in southeast Wyoming, that will be impacted by the Niobrara oil shale play. Sen. Wayne Johnson says he’s disappointed the Senate rejected the amendment.

Sen. Wayne Johnson, far flung:

“Even here in Laramie County, some of our further out fire districts in eastern Laramie County, and of course all of Goshen and Niobrara, they’re small; they’re tiny, they may have an engine and an ambulance, a few volunteers, so they’ll need it.”

An identical amendment passed second reading in the House though.

The Senate also rejected an amendment that would have provided about 505 thousand dollars for the Game and Fish Department to hire additional employees to deal with aquatic invasive species. Sen. Bruce Burns says the problem isn’t going to go away.

Sen. Bruce Burns, future consequence:

“I think the Senate was shortsighted in this case and I’m afraid that the price we’re going to pay is going to be huge, in the future.”

The House rejected a similar amendment.

The Senate approved an amendment that would add 2.2 million dollars to the state’s developmental disability waiver program. Sen. Bill Landen says the money will replace some of the funding that went away when state government underwent a 10 percent budget cut.

Sen. Bill Landen, replaces funding:

“This will return about 4 percent to that provider network. Last year we were able to return about 6 percent; because of the revenue picture, we felt like this additional 4 percent would be appropriate. That gets that provider network out there back to 2007 levels.”

A like amendment in the House failed.

The Senate will Consider a bill that would change the success curriculum for the Hathaway Scholarship program. Senate Education Committee Chairman Sen. Hank Coe explains House Bill 13.

Sen. Hank Coe, academic rigor:

“Put a good amendment on there that maintains the rigor by keeping two years of foreign language in there, but then you have the option of and\or. You can choose fine arts or you can choose career tech. That’s what it does, and I’ll tell you what’s amazing about the amendment is everybody likes it, so far, and I look for this to pass.”

The House passed Senate Joint Resolution 2 on a 49 to 11 vote. The bill calls for a constitutional amendment that says residents in Wyoming have the right to make health care decisions. The bill also says the state cannot ration health care.

Gov. Matt Mead signed the first bills of the 61st Wyoming legislative session into law today (Tuesday). Among them Senate Enrolled Act 7, original Senate File 110, the School Facilities Commission reorganization. Rep. Steve Harsman says it was something that was needed.

Rep. Steve Harshman, built on the fly:

“This whole process was kind of an airplane that was built while it was flying, and I think we’ve evolved to this point where have more of the Executive Branch oversight, so we’re pleased.”

The governor also signed Senate Enrolled Act 3, original Senate File 22, the wind energy property rights bill.

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

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