The 2022 Wyoming State Legislative session has wrapped up and WWF staff have traveled home from Cheyenne and are getting to work on the 2022-2023 interim session. We wanted to round up all the events from the legislative session in one place for our members to keep you up to date on what happened and what’s coming down the line this year!
The Federation tracked 30 bills and budget amendments that related to conservation and wildlife issues in this session. Some you may have heard a lot about, such as SF61 on Sage-grouse farming or Wyoming Wildlife and Natural Resource Trust (WWNRT) funding, while others may not have been spotlighted as brightly. Thirteen of the bills we were tracking died during the session, either by failing a vote or by failing to meet certain deadlines for consideration. Fifteen bills passed and will become law with the exception of one veto. The House budget bill and the Senate budget bill reached an agreement on the state budget, and the budget amendment providing WWNRT funding made it through both chambers intact.
Here is a short roundup of the notable bills that passed and failed this session:
Notable Bills That Passed
- HB0005 – Wild Horse and Burro management – Provides a framework for determining grazing costs of wild horses and burros on non-federal lands and sending an annual notice to the United States Secretary of the Interior or Secretary of Agriculture, as well as increasing calculated costs when they exceed the federally set appropriate management level. Read the bill >>
- HB0043 – Trophy game, big game, and wild bison license allocations – This bill was the first recommendation to come out of the Governor’s Wildlife Task Force. It changes the current allocation of bison, moose, bighorn sheep, mountain goat, and (when hunting is permitted) grizzly bears to 90% resident allocation and 10% nonresident license allocation. The bill also limits these tags to once in a lifetime upon drawing of the tag, except for cow/calf moose and ewe/lamb bighorn sheep. Read the bill >>
- SF0048 – 2022 large project funding – Authorizes the funding of WWNRT projects such as invasive grass spraying and wildlife roadways work for 2022 whose matched dollar grants exceed $200,000. Read the bill >>
- HB0072 – Hunting license allocation funding – Allows hunters to donate all or part of their license fees to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department in the event that they are not successful in the draw. Read the bill >>
- HB0137 – State lands exchanges-public notice – Requires notice of any state land exchange that the Office of State Lands and Investments has decided to proceed with to be conspicuously and publicly posted on their website for the duration of the exchange process. (Vetoed by Governor) Read the bill >>
- SF0061 – Sage-grouse farming- no certification expiration – Allows for the continued private farming of Greater Sage-grouse in Wyoming. The original bill allowed the practice in perpetuity, but a 5-year sunset amendment was added in the House. As the statute now reads, the practice will be allowed until December of 2027. Read the bill >>
- Section 39 of the Budget sending $85 million in funding to WWNRT – This year section 39 of the Budget directed $75 million in funding to the WWNRT corpus and another $10 million into its project account, bringing the Trust the closest to being fully funded that it has been since its inception!
Notable Bills That Failed
- HB0019 – Painted fence posts-no trespassing – Would have allowed fluorescent pink or orange painted fenceposts to serve as “no trespassing” markers between public and private land. This bill died in committee.
- HB0024 – Wild horse and burro management-2 – Would have allowed the state to manage wild horses upon the failure of the federal government to maintain populations at the federally set appropriate management levels. This bill was not considered for Committee of the Whole before the deadline.
- HB0103 – Prohibit travel across private lands for hunting – Would have altered existing statute to specifically prohibit traveling through private lands for hunting purposes, as well as stiffened penalties for such violations. This bill was not considered for introduction.HB0115- Wild game use of trimmings – Allows for the sale and use of wild game carcasses and trimmings after edible portions have been removed. This bill was not considered for introduction.
While we would have liked to see the unproven and concerning practice of Sage-grouse farming end in Wyoming, we appreciate the House’s willingness to put the practice up for review in 2027. We celebrate the additional funding stream that donations from license fees can generate for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, and we are especially grateful for both chambers’ support for WWNRT funding, which provides an incalculable value across the state to wildlife and Wyoming citizens alike.
Interim topics that we anticipate working on between now and the 2023 general session include trespassing in the Judiciary Committee, carcass disposal in the Travel, Recreation, Wildlife, and Cultural Resources Committee, and continued work in the Wildlife Task Force on license issues and Chronic Wasting Disease management.
Thanks to all of the concerned hunters and anglers who were engaged throughout the 2022 Legislative Session!