Cheyenne Roundup: state legislative session recap

Cheyenne Roundup: state legislative session recap

The Wyoming State Legislature just ended their session, and we had our eye on a number of the bills they considered this year. See the snapshot of key bills in this vote table, and learn more about each bill below.

This scorecard gives a snapshot of how our legislators voted on issues affecting Teton County.

SF49: County zoning authority – private schools

  • Alliance stance: Against
  • Verdict: Passed
  • This bill takes away local control over zoning regulations and exempts private schools, if they are situated on 35 plus acres and serve more than 50 students, from county regulation of use, location, or occupancy. This bill comes in the wake of our county rejection of the building size text amendment requested by the Jackson Hole Classical Academy and could allow for increased development and use within our rural zones. Despite dedicated local efforts organizing against it, this bill passed the Senate and the House.
  • Governor Gordon did not sign SF49, but also did not veto it. He then wrote a letter to explain why he was not taking a side, including: “No other bill in this legislative session has sparked more correspondence to the Office of the Governor than Senate File 49. … I believe this bill is flawed and so I will not sign it; but, as I have done with other bills, I will take this opportunity to recommend that the legislature and local governments continue to work to find a better way to sort out the types of impasses that begat this legislation closer to home. … In my core, I believe that government is best closest to the people and when it governs least. This bill sits in the saddle between those two.”   

HB196: Local regulation-subdivisions

  • Alliance stance: Against
  • Verdict: Passed
  • This new bill decreases the minimum lot size in county from 35 acres to 5 acres. This essentially guts our Comprehensive Plan and rural zoning, and would increase potential rural development seven-fold. It is another piece of the group of bills to remove local zoning control, and unfortunately, this bill passed and has been signed into law. There was an amendment adopted that only allows people to subdivide their properties after ten years of ownership, but we are still against the bill because this change will only slow unplanned development and not prevent it.

HB51: Lawful fence standards – county preemption

  • Alliance stance: Against
  • Verdict: Failed!
  • Back again after a failed attempt last year, HB 51 would have taken away county authority to regulate fencing standards. We were concerned about this bill’s impact on the county’s new natural resource protections as well as the negative impact it may have on future wildlife crossing structures. The bill passed out of the House Agriculture committee during the interim session, but died in the House. Good news!

HB277: Town and county development regulations

  • Alliance stance: Against
  • Verdict: Failed!
  • This bill was like the private school bill and the fencing bill, but focused on housing requirements (mitigation). The bill was another repeat of a failed bill, and would have removed workforce/affordable housing requirements from commercial or mega-home development. This would overrule local decisions that the Alliance supported, and essentially push the gas pedal on growth in Jackson Hole. It would hollow out our middle class and make it so Jackson becomes just a resort – no longer a true community. Thankfully, HB277 didn’t make it onto the floor of the House. Good news!

HB10: Crimes against Critical Infrastructure

  • Alliance stance: Against
  • Verdict: Failed!
  • This bill makes it illegal to impede on “critical infrastructure” projects like pipelines. This bill comes from an ALEC (pro-industry lobbying group) template and could, in a broad interpretation, put us on the hook with major penalties for supporting protest of industrial development (like oil drilling up Cache Creek, which we fought in the ’80s). The bill is unnecessary – trespass or property destruction is already illegal. This is generally seen as a response to the Standing Rock protests, and tribal leaders in the Wind River Reservation are weighing in against it. We’re happy to report that HB10 didn’t make it onto the House floor. Good news!

HB99: Public Lands Day

  • Alliance stance: For!
  • Verdict: Passed!
  • This bill establishes a state-wide Public Lands Day celebrating Wyoming’s public lands. We’re glad to see public lands receive this official recognition – please thank your representatives and mark your calendar for September 28, the first official Wyoming Public Lands Day!

More bills…

While the above bills were our top priorities, we also supported our partners’ efforts to track even more legislation. Learn about the following bills and more from our partners at the Wyoming Outdoor Council and theGreater Yellowstone Coalition.

  • SF162: State Funded Capital Construction
  • HB0228 – Highway and wildlife safety studies and improvements
  • HJ1: Wyoming support for delisting the grizzly bear
  • HB66: Lodging Tax – Imposes a statewide 5% sales tax, 3% of which goes to the newly created Wyoming tourism account and 2% is distributed to the county. Lowers the municipality taxation rate to 2%
  • HB2: Regulations on hunting methods – Allows game and fish commission to regulate and control methods of taking wildlife including regulating, prohibiting, or limiting the use of technology
  • HB12: Shed antlers and horns – Allows game and fish commission to regulate shed collection dates

Read the Wyoming legislature’s full list of bills, and learn more about your Wyoming legislators and find their contact information here. Contact Tisa, the Alliance’s Community Engagement Associate, at tisa@jhalliance.org for more information or to get involved in our civic engagement work.

Phone: (307) 733-9417
685 S. Cache St. PO Box 2728
Jackson, Wyoming 83001