The second session of the 61st Wyoming Legislature will convene on Monday, Feb. 13 in Cheyenne. The session is expected to continue through the first week of March. This is a “budget session” and will place priority on issues related to the 2013-14 budget.
“Starting on Monday we will hear the state of the State from the governor and from the judiciary branch,” explained Rep. Elaine Harvey, of Lovell. “Basically, we’ll get an overview of the State, which will all be broadcast on PBS for the public to hear as well.”
The introduction of bills will begin that afternoon, starting with a very brief introduction of bills, where only two minutes of speaking time is allowed, followed by two rounds of 30 second questions. The introducer of the bill is allowed one minute to answer each of the two questions.
“The introduction of a bill is followed by a roll call vote where two-thirds of the people in the house have to approve that this bill is worthy of our time during the budget session,” explained Harvey. “That is a vote that determines if we are going to hear the bill or not.”
Most of the first week of the session will be focused on the introduction of bills. Bills that are voted to be heard will then be assigned to committees and will go through a committee hearing. It then goes to the floor for a first, second and third reading, where it is voted on and possibly amended. Harvey estimates that around 300 House bills will be heard and discussed at length during this legislative session before going to the Senate for a vote and on to the governor.
According to Harvey, the big issues this session include redistricting, school accountability, state budget cuts, and external cost adjustments for schools. As chairman of the Labor, Health and Social Services Committee, she will be presenting three bills having to do with refinements to existing labor related programs and to the work her committee is doing to create a health insurance exchange for the state.
Follow the legislative session at www.legisweb.state.wy.us. To contact Harvey during the session email her at email@example.com. Harvey receives over 500 emails per day but gives priority in answering emails from her constituents.
By Patti Carpenter