Thermopolis Independent Record - Your source for news in Hot Springs County

By Mark Dykes and Cindy Glasson
Editor and Reporter Photographer 

Wyoming Legislature convenes January 8


January 3, 2019

by Mark Dykes and Cindy Glasson

The 65th Legislature for the State of Wyoming will convene on Tuesday, Jan. 8, and our Senior Legislator, Wyatt Agar, noted his move to the Appropriations Committee is a big one as it is the first time, to anyone’s recollection, a first term senator from the majority party has been placed on the committee. He further added it would be an interesting move, as senators typically wait two to three years to get on Appropriations, and he considers it a huge honor.

Agar will focus on responsible use of tax dollars in supplementary budgets. Such budgets are for emergency use only. For instance, a budget request already seen is for a new well at the golf course in Laramie. While this is a big project for that city, he said, it is not an emergency and not a good use of the state taxpayers’ money.

In contrast, he is in favor of supporting a capital construction bill for education. While there is no new major construction, he said, the bill addresses pre-existing issues in communities.

Another point of focus for Agar is the Wyoming Retirement Center and Wyoming Pioneer Home. He said the Retirement Center has taken a step in the right direction, working toward becoming a skilled nursing facility for veterans.

As for the local Pioneer Home, he said the focus there needs to be on filling the beds. The census has been down, Agar said, due to the unrest caused by conversations about the possibility of it becoming privately owned. That conversation needs to die down to allow staff to fill the beds, he said, noting it would then become a cash flowing facility.

Agar also noted he is co-sponsoring a bill that addresses technical training and job readiness at the community college level, to help ensure individuals are getting trained and ready for the job market.

Typically with bill requests, Agar tries to plan a year in advance to allow time for bills to be heard and vetted. He noted there would be no primary bills with his name attached to them; rather, they will be introduced by committee.

Newly-elected Representative John Winter will be there, representing Hot Springs County and House District 28.

There is a lot of work that goes in to being a legislator and Winter has been doing a lot of preparation for the upcoming session.

Assigned to the Agriculture Committee, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee, Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee, Winter has been spending a lot of time reading and holding meetings with elected county officials, representatives from Northwest College and the boards of Conservation Districts and the Predatory Animal Control board.

Fortunately for House District 28, Winter is very interested in resolving the dilemma with the Wyoming Pioneer Home and the Wyoming Retirement Center in Basin, both of which are going to come up at some point during the session.

Another issue Winter is looking to get into is the status of grizzly bears in Wyoming.

Wyoming had been preparing for fall hunting permits for the grizzly when a federal judge in Montana threw a wrench into the process, reinstating grizzly bear protections. Winter understands the situation with the animals and looks forward to debating the issue.

Winter is particularly interested in predator control cooperation with the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission as well.

There will be a lot to do over the next several weeks, but Winter does have something he would really like to see accomplished during this session.

“At this point,” he said, “I am learning about current legislation, but funding for County Governments has been a big issue during the aforementioned meetings.

“It appears that funding for many causes is one of the major pushes for the legislature, even during this general session.”

The Governor’s State of the State Address will start at 10 a.m., Tues., Jan. 9 before the legislature convenes.


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