Should The Wyoming House Focus More On the Budget?
Are too many non-budget items being proposed in the Wyoming House of Representatives during the budget session of the Wyoming Legislature?
Based on a vote Tuesday in the House, most representatives don't think so
A proposed rule change that would have limited the maximum number of bills that members of the Wyoming House of Representatives could bring during a budget session from 5 to 3 each was defeated in the House Tuesday by a 33-27 margin.
The proposal was put forward by Rep. Nathan Winters [R-Big Horn/Hot Springs/Fremont/Park counties] Winters argued that while the idea of bringing forward non-budget items during a budget session was originally intended to address only emergencies, it has since become a regular occurrence.
Winters said the budget session allows only 20 days to consider a multi-billion dollar state budget, but the budget sessions have "more and more come to resemble a general session." Winters pointed out the rule in the Wyoming Senate limits the 30 senators to only sponsoring three bills during a budget session for a total of 90 individually sponsored bills plus an unlimited number of committee sponsored bills.
But the Wyoming House currently allows five bills per member, plus committee bills.
He argues that distracts too much time and attention from the work of formulating a budget and turns the focus to bills that should properly be left for a general session.
But Rep. Dan Zwonitzer [R-Laramie County] said even the five-bill per representative rule has only been in place for six years, adding "I can remember when you could bring 9 or 10" bills. Zwonitzer said. He added "if you are active and out talking to people in your district, there are a lot of interesting ideas" that are worth considering.
During the debate on the proposed change, several lawmakers said a better way to focus more on the budget would be to bring the proposed budget bill to the floor sooner in the session. While Appropriations members have been dealing with budget issues for months, the house and senate budget proposals were only distributed to members of both bodies on Friday.
The session kicked off on Monday, Feb. 12.
The legislature began an item-by-item review of the budget bills in both bodies on Monday and will continue considering proposed changes through three readings this week in both houses of the legislature.
Non-budget items are required to win a 2/3 majority vote for introduction during a budget session.