As the Wyoming Legislature nears the end of its general session, many bills that could have impacted Teton County have failed — taxes, mostly, but also bills about health care, highways and sales of public lands.
Others, however, are now headed to Gov. Mark Gordon’s desk to be signed into law. They range from how subdivisions tap into public utilities to an additional restriction on abortion.
Here’s a roundup on four sets of bills the Jackson Hole Daily has been following.
Gill-backed bill heads to Gordon
The Teton County development controversy that reached the state Capitol this legislative session will continue its forward momentum to Gordon’s desk.
The House and Senate have both passed Senate File 157, a legislative outgrowth of the fight between the Gills and local officials about the family’s proposed 26-acre development in northern South Park.
The bill, in its final form, would prohibit town councils from conditioning “the connection of a municipal sewer system to a property on the inclusion of any deed restriction for that property or any other property that requires the development or provision of affordable housing” — a departure from less direct language that first passed the Wyoming Senate.
The Gills have called the bill necessary because of a perception that the town of Jackson is slow walking a permit to connect the family’s proposed development, which would be in the county, to town wastewater. The family has argued that a town should not leverage connecting to its utilities as a way to get deed restrictions for affordable housing.
Town councilors have discussed whether it’s possible to get a community benefit in exchange for access to town utilities, which are supported by community taxpayers.
However, the Town Council has not made any decision on the issue, in part because of a pending wastewater capacity study.
Supporters see the bill as protecting private property rights while critics say it’s premature and based in “fear” because no decision about the utility connection has been made.
The bill joins a handful of laws passed in recent years that critics say have reduced town and county authority over local land use.
Teton Pass ticketing measure dies
Sen. Mike Gierau, D-Teton, advocated for legislation that would have allowed the Wyoming Highway Patrol to automatically mail fines to drivers who drive overweight or oversized trucks across the pass.
But that bill died in the Wyoming House of Representatives.
Gierau had touted the measure as a way to increase safety on the sometimes treacherous mountain byway that connects the east and west side of the Tetons. Wyoming Highway Patrol also backed the bill.
As it stands, patrollers are able to take pictures of out-of-line vehicles. But they have to track them down in-person to pass on a ticket, a practice that will likely have to continue going forward.
One abortion bill lives
The Legislature considered this session four main bills that would have restricted access to abortion in Wyoming. Only one will head to Gordon’s desk.
If Gordon puts pen to paper, that measure, House Bill 253, will restrict the University of Wyoming from spending money from the state general fund on students’ elective abortions or student health insurance that funds abortions. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Natrona, who also sponsored a bill that would have outlawed abortions after a fetal heartbeat can be detected — typically between five and six weeks. That bill and two others did not advance.
Solar net metering legislation dies, again
A bill that critics said would have harmed the home wind and solar industry died in committee after it was tabled and not revisited for further discussion.
If approved, Senate File 16 would have required the Wyoming Public Service Commission to establish a new system that would no longer require utilities to buy excess power generated by home-scale systems, a system known as “net metering.”
Supporters had argued that the change would keep utility rates fair for people without home-scale renewables. Opponents argued it would endanger Wyoming’s home-scale renewable energy industry by removing incentives to install wind and solar systems.
The Jackson Town Council and Teton County Board of County Commissioners both opposed the bill. Ditto the Wyoming Outdoor Council.
— The Associated Press contributed to this report.