CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Legislature is set to resume their special session beginning at 9 am Saturday, May 16. Both the House of Representatives and Senate worked late into the night Friday on several pieces of legislation related to response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.
The Senate’s session can be viewed on Youtube here (audio-only stream available here):
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Each chamber of the legislature have been working on 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 began the session with consideration of separate, but identical pieces of legislation.
House Bill 1001 and Senate File 1001 would direct the overall appropriation of the $1.25 billion in CARES Act funding received by Wyoming. Both bills have passed through their chamber of origin and are moving into the second chamber for Saturday’s session. 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 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 1003 and Senate File 1003 deal with giving the governor authority to transfer funding allocated to executive branch departments between different programs or between departments. The House Bill failed on third reading, but the Senate File passed on third reading in the Senate.
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. Those have both passed out of chamber of origin on third reading.
House Bill 1005 and Senate File 1005 would make businesses immune from civil liabilities stemming from COVID-19 coronavirus expsosure or illness. The House has passed their bill on first reading. The Senate passed their Senate File on three readings.
After the House or Senate pass the bills on three readings, the legislations moves to other second chamber for consideration. Under the special session rules, the second chamber will consider amendments and only a third reading vote.
The legislation could then move to a Joint Conference Committee to resolve differences. Only one piece of legislation from each pair of mirror bills could ultimately becomes law.
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: 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.