A state legislative committee is in Jackson this week talking party affiliation rules, coal-fired power plants and wind farm development.
The joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee is slated to meet 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Tuesday at Teton County Library.
The committee wanted to convene in Jackson because “it’s beautiful country,” said Chairman Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance.
“But one of the reasons why we’re specifically going to Jackson this interim has to do with the fact that there was a lot of local issues regarding Jackson that were brought to the Corporations Committee last session,” Lindholm said.
“It’s more expensive to go to Jackson than it is to Sundance, but a lot of these bills are affecting that community, so we need to make sure the community feels involved if we do move anything forward,” he said.
Locals were focused on this particular committee during last winter’s legislative session when it passed two bills with roots in Teton County. Those bills spurred county commissioners to travel to Cheyenne to “defend their local decisions and local rights,” Lindholm said.
The first, which passed into law, prohibited counties from regulating exempt family subdivisions. The second, which passed committee but didn’t make it to the House floor, would have prohibited towns and counties from exacting affordable housing fees.
While the affordable housing bill isn’t scheduled for discussion at the meeting, Lindholm said it may come up during a general public comment period.
Per the agenda, the meeting is open to general public comments at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Teton County Board of County Commissioners Chairwoman Natalia Macker said she hopes locals take advantage of the committee’s meeting in Jackson and attend.
“Knowing we have an engaged population here, I would encourage folks to attend their meeting, and if they have a comment on an issue to certainly make it,” Macker said. “Every citizen of Teton County can be involved in connecting with the legislators.”
Macker is also pleased that legislators will have an opportunity “to see what everyday life is like here.”
“Given that the legislative session happens so far from our constituency and in the middle of winter, it’s a great chance for folks in the community to get face time with members of the legislature and hear their discussions and see how they work and engage in that part of our process,” she said.
One controversial bill under discussion would require voters to declare their party affiliation at least 14 days before a primary election. Under current law voters can change which party’s primary they’re voting in on the day of an election.
That issue was the Wyoming Republican Party’s top priority last legislative session, after failed gubernatorial candidate Foster Friess said independents and Democrats switching to vote in the Republican primary on Election Day caused him to lose to Mark Gordon, who went on to be elected governor.
Another bill would require photo identification to be presented at the polls. Net metering, which allows owners of renewable energy systems to receive credit for excess power supplied to the grid, is also up for debate.
“Everybody is going to be there, eager to talk to local folks and be able to have that conversation,” Lindholm said.