Wyoming Senate adopt 21 amendments to proposed biennium budget bill - Casper, WY Oil City News
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Wyoming Senate adopt 21 amendments to proposed biennium budget bill

Sen. Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Wyoming state legislators spent most of their time on Wednesday, Feb. 19 discussing the budget.

The Senate spent the majority of their day discussing amendments during the second reading of SF 1, the biennium budget bill. The 30 senators were determined to finish the second reading on Wednesday, managing to vote on 40 amendments.

By end of the night, the Senate had approved 21 amendments, including ones that slightly increased funding to the Department of Family Services and the Department of Agriculture.

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Forty-four amendments were on the docket, but a few were withdrawn, such as Sen. Tom James’ amendment that would have cut funding to the Wyoming Tourism Office.

Others, like James’ controversial amendment that would have defunded the Wyoming Business Council or Sen. Lynn Hutchings’ amendment that would have cut funding to the University of Wyoming’s Cowboy Joe Club, were voted down, with a number of senators giving impassioned pleas as to how these organizations benefit the state.

“If you want to see what the future of Wyoming is, come to Sheridan,” Sen. Dave Kinskey said. “We’re determined to not see that town close down with a boarded up Main Street. Our best days are ahead and the Wyoming Business Council is a key part of that.”

The morning started off on a tense note, with Sen. Chris Rothfuss criticizing a number of his fellow senators for wanting to quickly approve amendments on Wednesday. He noted that although the legislators had had more than a week to look over the budget, they’d had mere hours, if even that, to read through the amendments.

“There are probably about five people in this room that have really had the time to look through these amendments and know what they do,” Rothfuss told the Senate. “We should have a debate for every single one of these items in here. We’re being asked to just trust our colleagues.”

By the time the Senate recessed just after noon on Wednesday, the members had only discussed, and approved, the first four amendments on the bill.

However, the senators came back in the afternoon ready to finish the reading, no matter how long it took. In the first hour or so of the Wednesday afternoon floor session, the Senate began clearing through amendments, rejecting many of them without much debate.

The rest of the afternoon and evening sometimes dragged, with Senate President Drew Perkins noting that the Senate took nearly two hours to discuss two amendments.

The Senate completed their session around 10 p.m. Wednesday. Its members will discuss the budget bill in a third reading on Friday, Feb. 21.