849 Front Street, Suite 101, Evanston, WY 82930 • Ph: 307-789-6560 • Fax: 307-789-2700
Current E-Edition

Top Stories Sports Obits Opinion Rich County Outdoors Classifieds Home 

GUEST COLUMN: Legislative update

Posted: Tuesday, Feb 5th, 2013

Stan Cooper

The fuel tax bill, HB 69, is moving through the legislature like a freight train rolling down the tracks. The bill came out of the Senate Transportation Committee with four votes in support and my NO vote in opposition. As Iíve stated many times in the past, I understand that WYDOT and our local governments can use additional funds to maintain our highways, roads and streets, and I support that effort. However, I believe that there are other ways to accomplish that goal.

My first attempt to provide additional funding for roads was to draft (SF 109) that would have used only severance tax dollars to provide the revenues. The bill was tabled by the Senate Revenue Committee and after reviewing the possibilities with some of my Senate colleagues, we came to the conclusion the bill would probably not make it out of committee and to the floor unless we could propose an amendment that would provide a different compromise to HB 69.

The straw poll vote count on the floor of the Senate on HB 69, which would increase the fuel tax by 10 cents all in one year, as of last week, was 18 in support and 12 opposed. One can see from this vote count, HB 69 has a pretty good chance of moving right through the Senate. The bill has passed the House and if it passes the Senate, the Governor has said he will sign it into law.

There was little or no opportunity for us to prevent HB 69 from moving forward and becoming law without providing some way to slow this freight train down by coming up with a different compromise to the bill. The original idea of using only severance tax revenues was not going to fly. Weíve now amended SF 109 to allow for a phased-in two cents per year tax increase over five years, with the full tax not being implemented until 2017.

The difference in the amount that would have normally been collected with the full 10 cent tax would be made up by a diversion of severance tax revenue over the five-year period. In this way, the state highways and local governments would still receive the same amount of funding that they would have gotten under the HB 69, and the public would not be slam-dunked with the brunt of the 10 cent fuel tax all in one year.

Both SF 109 and HB 69 are up on General File to be debated in Committee of the Whole by the entire body of the Senate early next week. The straw poll count on SF 109 is 13 in support, and 17 opposed. A three-vote swing on either bill could make a difference as to whether either bill passes or dies. SF 109 gives legislators an opportunity to compromise and vote for a different method of funding highways.

Many legislators, including me, would rather not see any increase in the fuel tax, but because the HB 69 door was beginning to quickly slam shut on us we had to come up with a compromise in order to at least get our foot in the door. Please consider contacting your state senator to express your opinion on this issue. All legislators have the same basic email address: first name (then a dot) last name @wyoleg.gov. Mine is stan.cooper@wyoleg.gov.

Select Page:



Shoppe Hide


Copyright 2017 News Media Corporation

News    Classifieds    Shoppe    Search    ContactUs    TalkBack    Subscribe    Information    E-Edition    Business Portal