CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming House of Representatives adopted an amendment to House Bill 1001 during the special session Friday, May 8 that would make it possible for the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes to receive federal Coronavirus, Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act qualifying funding or other federal funding received by Wyoming.
The amendment would not appropriate any amount of funding to the tribes, but would allow the State Loan and Investment Board to consider providing grants from CARES Act or other federal funding meant to provide COVID-19 pandemic assistance.
House District 54 Representative Lloyd Larsen explained the amendment ahead of the House’s second reading vote on the proposed bill. Larsen noted that the federal government provided $8 billion to tribal governments under the CARES Act and said that about $19 million was provided to the Northern Arapaho Tribe and about $10 million was provided to the Eastern Shoshone Tribe.
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Larsen said the purpose of his amendment was to create a mechanism for the executive branch to consider providing additional support in case the CARES Act funding provided to the tribes isn’t sufficient to address impacts they have experienced stemming from the pandemic.
Majority Whip Tyler Lindholm asked whether tribes would need support from the state since they have received federal CARES Act funding themselves.
“Are they not able to handle this on their own as a sovereign nation?” he asked, noting that federal government hasn’t distributed funding to any city in Wyoming equal to the roughly $29 million the tribes were granted.
Majority Floor Leader Eric Barlow said that while tribal governments are sovereign, “citizens of these tribes are citizens of Wyoming as well.” He added that the state and tribes partner on a variety of programs.
“Why not be able to use some of these displaced funds to be able to support our tribal neighbors?” he asked.
Minority Floor Leader Cathy Connolly agreed and added that the legislature should try to make the legislation as expansive as possible so that CARES Act funding can get where it needs to go.
“[The] money should be able to go to whatever entity provides the services that we need,” she said.
Larsen reiterated that the amendment wouldn’t appropriate any funding to the tribes.
“Don’t read more into the amendment than is there,” he said. “Nothing [in it] says the state is going to give any money into the tribes.”
He said the amendment could allow the SLIB Board to consider providing support to tribal healthcare facilities or businesses impacted by COVID-19 owned by the tribes.
“All this amendment does is provide the mechanism in the event [tribes] want to make a proposal or the governor wants to entertain a proposal,” Larsen said.
As of 3 pm Friday, the House was considering other amendments to House Bill 1001. House Bill 1001 and its mirror bill Senate File 1001 would direct the overall appropriation of the $1.25 billion in CARES Act funding received by Wyoming. If the bills pass on three readings, they will be assigned to a joint committee to resolve differences between the House and Senate.
Only one piece of legislation could ultimately become law.
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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: firstname.lastname@example.org
- 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.