Wyoming House Adds $15M for New Grant Program Atop $105M in Local Government Distributions 

Wyoming House Adds $15M for New Grant Program Atop $105M in Local Government Distributions 

Rep. Steve Harshman, Natrona County (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

Originally reported by Brendan LaChance – Oil City News.

CHEYENNE — Local governments in Wyoming could have a new opportunity to access state funding if House Bill 42 becomes law.

The Joint Appropriations Committee-sponsored legislation includes $105 million in funding to be distributed to counties and municipal governments during the 2023-2024 biennium, the same amount of funding the state allocated toward local government distributions during the current 2021-2022 biennium.

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The Wyoming House of Representatives adopted an amendment that adds an additional $15 million to the bill for a new grant program that would give local governments the chance to access state funding for “community enhancement or economic development capital projects.” The House adopted that amendment prior to passing the bill on a third reading vote of 49–10 last week.

The amendment, sponsored by Rep. Steve Harshman (Natrona County) and House Speaker Pro Tempore Mike Greear (Big Horn, Washakie County), would require local governments to match dollar-for-dollar state funding received under the new grant program. The grants would be administered by the Office of State Lands and Investments (OSLI). The $15 million would be made available proportionally based on each county’s share of the state’s population.

In order to be eligible to take advantage of the new grant program, the board of county commissioners and 70% of the governing bodies on municipalities within the county would be required to reach an agreement on the projects for which the funds would be used. The proposed grant program would allow OSLI to provide the grant funding for “community enhancement or economic development capital projects,” and would not be available to help pay for additional employees or employee wage and benefit increases.

The $105 million that House Bill 42 appropriates for distributions to local governments would be distributed based on a formula that is detailed in the language of the bill.

With the House having passed the bill on three separate readings, the legislation awaits consideration in the Wyoming Senate. If the bill becomes law, it will take effect on July 1, 2022.

The 49–10 third-reading vote in the House on Feb. 17 was as follows:

  • Ayes: BANKS, BARLOW, BLACKBURN, BURKHART, CLAUSEN, CONNOLLY, CRAGO, DUNCAN, EKLUND, EYRE, FLITNER, GREEAR, HALLINAN, HAROLDSON, HARSHMAN, HEINER, HENDERSON, KINNER, KNAPP, LARSEN, L, LEBEAU, MACGUIRE, NEIMAN, NEWSOME, NICHOLAS, OAKLEY, OBERMUELLER, O’HEARN, OLSEN, OTTMAN, PAXTON, PROVENZA, ROMERO-MARTINEZ, ROSCOE, SCHWARTZ, SHERWOOD, SIMPSON, SOMMERS, STITH, SWEENEY, WALTERS, WASHUT, WESTERN, WHARFF, WILLIAMS, WILSON, WINTER, YIN, ZWONITZER
  • Nays: ANDREW, BAKER, BEAR, BURT, FORTNER, GRAY, JENNINGS, LAURSEN, D, RODRIG-WILLIAMS, STYVAR
  • Excused: BROWN