The Wyoming Legislature approved a trio of bills on Saturday to spend money allocated to the state by the federal government through the federal CARES Act.

The state was awarded $1.25 billion through federal legislation, although there are some restrictions on how the money can be spent. For example, the money can't be used to backfill deficits in an existing state budget. The money must also be spent by the end of this year.

Among other things, the bills approved by the legislature in the Friday-Saturday special session will:

-Give money to landlords in place of rent money from people who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The program is aimed at preventing evictions without causing hardships to landlords.

-make $50 million available for grants to small businesses that have been forced to close by the pandemic.  The money would be specifically earmarked for businesses that employ 50 or fewer people

--Make another $225 million available for stipends to businesses in Wyoming that have suffered economic setbacks because of the pandemic. Stipends could be as large as $300,000 each.

-Allocate $175 million for local governments across Wyoming. Local government have been hit hard by big declines in sales tax revenues, which are the major funding source for local government operations in the state

-money for hospitals and other healthcare facilities in Wyoming

While the two-day special session was devoted to allocating federal money given to the state, it very likely won't be the last special session for the Wyoming Legislature in 2020.  it's widely believed that another session is likely late next month.

That could be a five-day special session that will convene on June 29 and focus on making adjustments to the state budget that was devised before the pandemic and low oil prices wreaked havoc on state revenues.

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