CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Legislature is set to hold a special legislative session beginning at 8 am Friday, May 15 where they will consider several bills aimed to provide relief for Wyomingites and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The special session will continue at 8 am Saturday if the legislature have not concluded their work on Friday. The special session can be viewed on the Wyoming Legislature’s Youtube page or can be listened to on the legislature’s website.
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Each chamber of the legislature will consider five pairs of “mirror bills.” Some of the legislation is related to the emergency appropriation of $1.25 billion in federal Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act qualifying funding which have been received by the state.
Under the “mirror bill” process, the Wyoming House of Representatives and the Senate will begin the session with consideration of four separate, but identical pieces of legislation. If either chamber amend the bills throughout the three-reading process, the legislature will work to resolve differences before sending the legislation to Governor Mark Gordon for consideration.
House Bill 1001 and Senate File 1001 would direct the overall appropriation of the $1.25 billion in CARES Act funding received by Wyoming. Those bills contemplate four categories of priority need for use of the funding:
- COVID-19 emergency response: funding for expenditures incurred or that will be incurred “as a direct response of combating COVID-19 in Wyoming, for which CARES Act relief funds may currently be expended”
- Relief aid: payments to state and local programs to support businesses, families and individuals
- Economic development projects: capital construction, road building, infrastructure, broadband and other projects aimed to offset economic impacts of COVID-19
- Replacement of lost revenue for public entities: relied funds for state and local governments to continue providing “a base level of critical services while longer term solutions to this economic crisis can be implemented”
Two of the other three pairs of mirror bills are “companion acts” to House Bill 1001 and Senate File 1001 which relate to how aspects of the overall $1.25 billion would be appropriated.
House Bill 1002 and Senate File 1002 contemplate appropriating up to $10 million of the overall $1.25 billion “for establishment and operation of a temporary program for payment of rent and avoidance of evictions for persons impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Legislative Service Office explains.
House Bill 1004 and Senate File 1004 would appropriate $275 million of the overall $1.25 billion in CARES Act funding for three relief programs for Wyoming businesses. That $275 million would include:
- $50 million for the Wyoming business interruption stipend program
- $175 million for the coronavirus business relief loan program
- $50 million for the coronavirus mitigation stipend program
Under the current language of the legislation for relief for Wyoming businesses, eligibility and awards for each of the three programs that would be created is as follows:
- $50 million Wyoming business interruption stipend program:
- Wyoming owned and operated businesses with 50 full time employees or less as of March 31 who experienced interruptions due to COVID-19 public health orders
- $15,000 to maximum $50,000 awards (depending on number of employees)
- preference given to businesses which didn’t receive federal PPP funding
- $175 million coronavirus business relief loan program
- Wyoming owned and operated businesses with 100 full time employees or less as of March 31 who were “adversely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic or by required closures”
- 0% interest loans of up to $300,000
- $50 million coronavirus mitigation stipend program
- “to reimburse COVID-related expenses that an eligible business actually incurred between March 1, 2020 and December 1, 2020”
- can include costs of cleaning products, personal protective equipment, training expenses, etc.
- maximum $500,000
The Latest Statistics from the Wyoming Department of Health:
What to do if you are feeling sick: In the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak, the Casper-Natrona County Health Department says that people who are feeling sick or exhibiting symptoms should contact their primary physician.
If you do not have a primary care provider, and live in Natrona County, please contact the COVID-19 hotline, operated by the Casper-Natrona County Department of Health. The line is open Monday – Friday 8:00 am – 5:00 pm 577-9892. Hotline services are intended for Natrona County residents and may not be able to provide specific information to persons calling from out of county.
Officials ask that you please do not self-report to the Emergency Room. Persons experiencing problems breathing should call 9-11.
For general inquiries and non-symptom related questions about COVID-19, please contact the Casper-Natrona County Health Department via email: email@example.com
- Practice Social Distancing by putting distance between yourself and other people. This is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.
- Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick
- Stay home if you’re sick
- Cover coughs and sneezes. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
- Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
A list of area closures attributed to COVID-19 are available here.