Legislature kicks off 2022 session

Alexis Barker, NLJ News Editor

Photo courtesy of Michael Smith

Rep. J.D. Williams, R-Lusk, speaks after State of the State address in the House Chambers to open the 66th Wyoming Legislature Feb. 14 in Cheyenne. 


The Wyoming Senate and House of Representatives convened Monday, Feb. 14, for their Joint Session and State of the State address from Gov. Mark Gordon to kick off the 2022 Budget Session in Cheyenne. 

The joint session, according to information from the Wyoming Legislative Service Office, is held at the commencement of each of the legislative sessions. The session is presided over by the president of the Wyoming Senate. The Legislature invited the governor and the chief justice of the Supreme Court to address the members. The Wyoming Constitution requires the governor to address the Legislature as to the condition of the state at the commencement of each session. 

Following the commencement day festivities, the 66th Wyoming Legislature will begin to work its way through several important topics, according to Sen. Cheri Steinmetz, R-Lingle. 

“This session will prove to be very challenging as we deal with redistricting, the state budget and disbursement of the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds. All of these decisions will set the course of the state for the next decade,” Steinmetz said in an email. 

She noted that the Joint Appropriations Committee, on which she serves, had recommended several differences to the $2.3 billion budget proposed by Gordon. 

“Regarding the budget, the difference is net $81.2 million more than the Governor’s recommendations: including $142.5 million appropriated for savings,” Steinmetz said in the same email. “The JAC also recommends $61.3 million less in appropriations intended to be expended.” 

She said that this is because the Senate Appropriations Committee had a goal to save as much money as possible from the coronavirus relief package funds. 

“Roughly 20% of the revenue the State of Wyoming receives comes from our investment earnings. Savings in permanent funds translates into perpetual earnings in the years to come and decreases the push by some to raise taxes in the future,” Steinmetz added in the email. “The State of Wyoming is flush with money right now. It is not time to increase taxes on our citizens.”

Major differences in the joint committee’s proposed budget compared with the governor’s budget include $142.5 million more in savings, $7 million more in revenue transfer through the mineral royalty grant program and net $61 million less in spending. The total budget proposed by the JAC is $2.874 billion. 

“We are in a better position than we thought we would be since new estimates show a little more than half a million dollars more for the budget,” Senate President Dan Dockstader said. “But we will still need to be thoughtful about how we utilize the funds. The market is pretty volatile and as we know, the economic landscape is changing, which creates budget uncertainty.” 

The other main issue facing the Legislature this session is the completion of a new redistricting plan for the state based on the 2020 Census. As previously reported, Weston County has continually fought to remain whole through the process, providing for a representative who lives within the county’s boundaries. 

The most recent plan, adopted by the Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee, has officially been submitted to
the entire Legislature as House Bill 100. This plan would split Weston County’s representation once again, while adding two more representatives and another senator to the state’s slate of legislators. 

“Redistricting is one of the main issues we will be dealing with this session. Unfortunately, the Joint Corporations Committee has adopted a redistricting plan that grows government and dilutes the rural vote. They have added three legislative seats, which result in 62 representatives and 31 senators. This session will definitely be one to keep an eye on,” Steinmetz said.

Appointed in 2021 to replace former Rep. Hans Hunt, Rep. J.D. Williams, R-Lusk, said that his first budget session is going to be a great opportunity to learn about the state’s budget and work on issues that are important to his constituents. 

“I plan to study the bills being presented intently, as I have decided to wait to sponsor legislation of my own due to the intensity of the session,” Williams said in an email. 

Those wishing to follow the session can do so from home, according to information provided by the service office. All proceedings and committee meetings during the session will be broadcast live via the Wyoming Legislature’s YouTube channel. 

Questions regarding the 2022 Joint Session should be directed to Ryan Frost at the LegislativeService Office at 307-777-7881, and questions regarding Gov. Gordon’s State of the State address should be directed to Michael Pearlman at 307-777-7434. To follow online go to wyoleg.gov. 



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