CHEYENNE — With the legislation changing the role of the superintendent of public instruction on the governor's desk, don't expect a lull in the controversies emanating from the capitol.
The governor has until Tuesday to decide what to do about the bill stripping the elected superintendent of many of her duties and requiring the governor to appoint a director of the Wyoming Department of Education.
But as that controversial decision enters a new phase, lawmakers will generate a lot of headlines this week while considering legislation about guns, homosexuals getting married and limiting abortion rights.
With less fanfare, however, legislators will tinker with various pieces of nuts-and-bolts business legislation.
House Bill 79 has not generated a lot of headlines, for example, but it has generated a lot of concern
among wage earners who won't be paid for unused vacation time if they don't take the time off.
Casper Republican Rep. Tim Stubson said concern about the bill is misplaced. The legislation would not change any worker's current agreement with an employer. If an employer has a policy in writing, the bill makes clear that the written policy has precedent.
The bill has passed the Wyoming House of Representatives and this week is now in the Senate Health, Labor and Social Services Committee.
The Senate has been delving into some of the issues involved with health-care reform, and is expected to consider several bills dealing with a variety of complex issues.
But the Senate is also expected to take up the Food Freedom Act, which the House of Representatives passed last week.
The sponsor of that House Bill 108, Rep. Sue Wallis, a Republican from Recluse, said the legislation will open up local commerce and help small business.
HB 108 would deregulate the sale of homemade foods at such things as farmers markets and in individual transactions between producers and consumers.
Critics worry that the sales of such things as uninspected, unregulated meat and unpasteurized, raw milk could have adverse health effects.
Wallis also is sponsoring a bill intended to help meat producers in Wyoming. The state has no U.S. Department of Agriculture inspected meat-packing operations.
House Bill 109 requires the state Department of Agriculture to work toward establishing a cooperative interstate shipment program for meat and poultry with the United States Department of Agriculture.
The House Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee was expected to continue working through the legislation today.
The full House is expected to take up House Bill 18 this week as well. It is intended to encourage the spread of advanced communications networks throughout the state.
The House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee unanimously voted to recommend that the legislation pass. It would prevent the Wyoming Public Service Commission from regulating communications networks using Internet protocol technology.
Consumer-advocate group AARP is worried exemptions from PSC regulation could allow rural consumers to be abandoned or charged higher-than-necessary prices and cause a lack of responsiveness to complaints.
The Senate Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee is scheduled to discuss House Bill 52, which provides workplace safety initiatives, and House Bill 64, which provides tax exemptions for data centers. Wyoming economic development interests have been pushing data centers for economic growth since they need a cool climate and cheap electricity to thrive. Wyoming has both.
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