Lawmakers Begin Working the Budget

Wyoming lawmakers got their first look at the biennium budget bill. Representative Steve Harshman (HD-37), co-chairman of the Joint Appropriations Committee, says the bill calls for spending just over $3.5 billion from the state's General Fund to cover government operations for two years starting this July. Harshman says he thinks it is a pretty good budget. Both houses will consider amendments to the budget on second reading on Wednesday and after taking Thursday off from the budget, will hear amendments on third reading on Friday.

Healthcare

Only one Medicaid expansion bill, Senate File 118, survived introduction. The committee will hear the bill on Wednesday. Senator Charlie Scott, Chairman of the Senate Health, Labor and Social Services Committee, says his concern is the Legislature really doesn't currently have an answer to what to do about small rural hospitals and nursing homes that are in danger of failing under the Affordable Care Act. He says he will likely bring an budget amendment that would call for setting aside a pool of money to deal with this issue.

School Bus Cameras

The House passed House Bill 5 Monday on a 32-27 vote. The bill would require all public school buses to have inside and outside video cameras by the 2015-2016 school year. Proponents say the equipment will help law enforcement identify drivers who illegally pass stopped school buses.

During floor debate, House Speaker Representative Tom Lubnau  (HD-31) said while he "love the spirit of the bill" he had concerns about the amount of surveillance that would be directed at Wyoming residents.

House Minority Whip, Representative Jim Byrd (HD-44), said the bill gives law enforcement one more tool to help provide for the safety of students as they get on and off school buses. The bill now goes to the Senate.