GILLETTE, Wyo. — About 50 people March 14 crammed into a conference room of the Campbell County Public Library to hear from Campbell County-based Wyoming state legislators.
State Reps. Abby Angelos, John Bear, Ken Clouston, Christopher Knapp and Reuben Tarver, along with Sen. Troy McKeown talked about what they believe the future of Wyoming will look like and what bills from the 2023 legislative session they believed were important.
Knapp said Wyoming’s been blessed and cursed. The state hasn’t had to make hard decisions for a long time, as there’s been money coming in from the oil industry, the coal industry and the federal government.
“We were able to put enough money away that now, a third of our income, a third of our revenues come from investments,” he said.
But there will be a day when Wyoming won’t be bailed out by the federal government or money from increased gas or coal prices, and people’s freedoms, such as what energy to use and healthcare privacy, are on the line, Knapp said.
“We need to take control of our future, wean ourselves off of state or federal government so that we become a strong state,” he said.
He said Wyoming should come up with a Wyoming solution for healthcare instead of expanding Medicaid, which he said is a broken system.
McKeown said that Wyoming’s wealthy but the state needs to restructure taxes and examine governmental expenditures.
While McKeown said that Wyoming passed a bill to subsidize housing for court justices who live in Wyoming counties where the average cost of housing is higher than the statewide population weighted average cost of housing, that bill, SF54, failed in the legislature. County 17 called McKeown to confirm whether there was another bill that he was referring to instead, and he didn’t name one.
Bear told County 17 after the talks that he’s the chairman of the Wyoming House Freedom Caucus, and he’s trying to make that political group a “household name” brand. He said the group’s aim is to be the conscience of Republican legislators and to provide legal analysis of bills ahead of votes in the legislature.
Wyomingites will see a ballot measure regarding property tax in the 2024 elections. According to Ballotpedia, the “Wyoming Property Tax on Residential Property and Owner-Occupied Primary Residences Amendment” will add residential real property as a fourth, separate, class of property and allow the legislature to create a subclass of residential property for owner-occupied primary residences, which could be assessed at a different rate from other property in the residential property class.
Bear said that this doesn’t count as tax reform, and he said it’d confuse people to have it on the ballot, but others disagreed.