Wyoming Legislature update – February 2, 2017
by Albert Sommers, House District #20 Representative
February 2, 2017
Hello Sublette County, this is Albert Sommers reporting to you from Cheyenne on Thursday the 2nd.
Today, in Committee of the Whole we heard HB288, which increases fees and licenses under the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. Part of the Appropriation Committee’s plan to cut our General Fund budget is to move agencies off of the General Fund, and back to their own fee structures. In the early 2000s, the Game and Fish Department operated on their own funding streams, primarily hunting and fishing licenses. However, as the state developed more endangered species issues and during a period of time when the state saw increased revenues, many of these non-game budgets moved to the General Fund. This reflected an acknowledgement by the state that these issues were not just sportsmen issues. We need to fix our structural deficit in state government, and so the Appropriations Committee has proposed fee and license increases, in order to shift Game and Fish back to their own dollars. HB288 will generate about $500,000 less than will be required for Game and Fish to come out even in this trade, which means they will make up the difference from their own programs. 92% of this fee increase will be paid by people from out-of-state, and the price of an in-state deer license will increase only $1. As we work to move agencies back to their own fees structures, including brand inspectors, it will result in increased user fees, or no service at all. For the most part, I have supported these fee increases, as well as cutting the current budgets. We have done both, and there have been few easy decisions.
HB267 would have increased the fee for the corporation license from $50 to $150. We heard this bill in committee yesterday, and amended the bill to a $75 license, which was only a $25 increase. This bill will be heard in Committee of the Whole tomorrow. Through the press, the Secretary of State came after this bill and its sponsor, in a manner that I have never witnessed before. I supported the increase to $75 in committee, but will listen to the debate tomorrow.
I can be reached at email@example.com