Wyoming Legislature report: February 26, 2015
by Albert Sommers, House District #20 Representative
February 27, 2015
Hello Sublette County this is Albert Sommers reporting to you from Cheyenne on the evening of February 26th. Today in Third Reading Senate Files that passed the House included a bill designating a stretch of I-25 as the Vietnam Veterans Welcome Home Highway, a bill defining how grazing lease money on state owned Camp Guernsey can be utilized, a bill reauthorizing the Digital Privacy Task Force I served on, and a bill allowing certain hospice care facilities to expand their services if they have open beds. I supported these bills.
SF132, the Wyoming Fair Housing Act passed Committee of the Whole. This bill would put into statute federal fair housing laws, which would allow Wyoming or an authority designated by Wyoming to be the regulator of fair housing issues. Generally, anytime Wyoming can control authority for some federal mandate it will simplify management, and with this mandate the feds pay the bill. We also passed a bill in Committee of the Whole which would allow the Wyoming Department of Transportation to increase speed limits to 70 MPH on roads other than the interstate, when they deem conditions to be safe.
SF133 & 134 were crafted to prevent the Forest Service in Region 4 from eliminating domestic sheep grazing due to Bighorn sheep disease issues. We were told today that a ruling on Region 4 forest lands in Idaho forbid domestic sheep herds from grazing within 50 miles of a Bighorn sheep herd. The forest service through their sensitive species designation is moving closer to usurping state ownership and management of wildlife on this list. Sensitive species are not on an endangered species list, and are not subject to the authority of the US Fish and Wildlife Service. There is a very small herd of Bighorns on Darby Mountain in western Wyoming, about 16 head, which have been reestablished a couple of times. If Region 4 holds true to form, then multiple domestic sheep herds in western Wyoming will be in danger of losing their grazing rights. The Darby Mountain herd is a non-essential herd as established by the Bighorn Sheep Workgroup. SF134, simply puts into statute the Bighorn Sheep Workgroups state-wide bighorn/domestic sheep plan, which will show that Wyoming has some regulatory authority over this interaction. SF133, would relocate the Darby Mountain herd if the feds kick domestic sheep off of any allotment in the Wyoming Range as a result of this domestic/bighorn interaction issue. I support these bills, because the state made the same threat in South-central Wyoming a couple of years ago, and the forest service has not followed through with eliminating domestic sheep in the region. I supported these bills in Committee of the Whole today, though I believe it is sad we have to resort to these tactics to get the Forest Service’s attention.
If you have any questions about these bills or any other, I can be reached at email@example.com.