Legislative Report for February 22nd, 2024

Legislative Report for February 22nd, 2024

Wyoming Legislative Chambers. Michael Shane Smith photo

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Cash for Grass

Wyoming wildlife managers are concerned that a proposed change in landowner compensation rules might negatively impact efforts to control excessive elk populations. House Bill 60, aimed at addressing wildlife population issues, suggests increasing compensation for ranchers who lose grass to wildlife, offering them 150% of the market value. However, in a statement Game and Fish Chief Warden Rick King worries that such high compensation might actually encourage landowners to host elk, worsening overpopulation problems. The livestock lobby, represented by Jim Magagna from the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, disagreed, stating that landowners are not in the business of making money by growing elk but rather by raising sheep or cattle.

The proposed legislation could potentially strain the state agency’s finances, leading to additional payments approaching an estimated $1.68 million. Conservation groups argue that this policy might discourage cooperation between private landowners, sportsmen, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, exacerbating elk overpopulation issues across the state. Despite some opposition, supporters argue that the legislation addresses a specific shortcoming in the current damage program related to grass consumption. The bill has passed initial votes but faces further review in the Appropriations Committee.

Property Tax:

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SF0121  relating to taxation; establishing a homeowner’s property tax exemption for primary residences was placed on General File

HB0003 relating to taxation; establishing a tax exemption for long-term homeowners; providing a penalty for false claims; and providing for an effective date has been Laid Back on 2nd Reading.

Other News:

SF0044 relating to environmental quality; amending requirements for the commencement of limited mining operations; amending bonding, notice and reporting requirements for limited mining operations passed 2nd Reading.

SF0121 relating to taxation; establishing a homeowner’s property tax exemption for primary residences was placed on General File

HB0141 relating to state lands; specifying evaluation and review requirements before issuance of oil and gas leases on state lands Passed COW.