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Subdivisions bill signed into law

At a formal bill-signing ceremony, Gov. Mark Gordon signed House Bill 196 into law Wednesday. That means large landowners in Teton County can carve out parcels of land to hand over to family members without meeting county standards for minimum parcel sizes.

Proponents say the legislation clears the way for the next generation of ranchers to continue living on the family farm, but some local officials fear it could lead to unregulated sprawl and real estate speculation in Teton County.

The family homesite exemption is a state law that allows large landowners to subdivide a plot so their children can build a home and stay on the ranch. In Teton County, many can’t access it.

Rural county zoning requires individual parcels to be at least 35 acres, so while Teton County will allow a family subdivision under the state exemption, nothing can be built on the subdivided parcel because the county won’t grant a building permit if the parcel is smaller than that.

The legislation requires Teton County to issue those building permits, if the landowner has held the land for at least 10 years. The family member receiving the land must hold onto it for five years before reselling.

Local attorney Amberley Baker pushed for the bill’s introduction.

“Without it, local government bodies can continue to subvert and render meaningless the exemption,” Baker told lawmakers. “What the bill does is ensure zoning regulations cannot be used to make it totally unavailable.”— Allie Gross, Jackson Hole Daily

Property tax relief fails

A bill to provide property tax relief for elderly and disabled Wyomingites failed on the Senate floor Feb. 21.

The original legislation, House Bill 127, added $2.5 million to the program, although the Appropriations Committee winnowed that down to just $1 million. However, the bill failed to pass.

That means the only funds that will go toward property tax relief are $625,000 included in the supplementary budget.

It’s more funding than property tax relief programs have had in recent years since they were slashed in 2016, and while he would have like to have seen more, it’s better than nothing, said Sen. Mike Gierau, D-Teton.

During the 2018 tax season, many property owners in Teton County saw a dramatic hike in assessed values and, therefore, property taxes. Gierau said the Teton County delegation felt it was important to push for a budget allocation for property tax relief this year in order “to try to help seniors, to try to help people that we heard from very loud and clear when property taxes went up and people were looking for some relief.”

— Allie Gross, Jackson Hole Daily

Senate OKs abortion reporting bill

The Legislature passed a bill that requires abortion providers to report information on the procedures they perform, amid concerns that it is redundant and unnecessarily revealing.

The Senate voted 20-9 in favor of House Bill 103 on Monday, and it now goes to Gov. Mark Gordon’s desk. It creates penalties for doctors who don’t report abortions to the state within 110 days.

Opponents argued that current Wyoming statutes already offer a way to obtain abortion records, if someone files a complaint to request them. Sen. Cale Case, R-Fremont, noted that no one has requested such records as of now and suggested the bill is only an effort to draw attention to a contentious issue.

“Wyoming law already provides for this,” he said.

Despite amendments to the bill designed to increase privacy for women who undergo abortions, Case worried the bill would push them to seek treatment out of state or potentially try abortion techniques on their own.

Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Albany, questioned whether the state needs abortion data, considering it would be the only medical issue with reporting mandates other than contagious diseases.

He thought the matter would be better left between doctors and patients.

“Is this any of our business?” Rothfuss said.

— Cody Cottier, Jackson Hole Daily

Contact Allie Gross at 732-7063, county@jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGcounty.

Allie Gross covers Teton County government. Originally from the Chicago area, she joined the News&Guide in 2017 after studying politics and Spanish at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

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