Meeting#16 - December 14, 2022 in Cheyenne at the Game and Fish office. This is the final Taskforce meeting. A meeting agenda will be emailed to you once it is available.
The 2022 Wyoming Outdoors is in the hands of the printing company. Thank you for your continued support for this project. A complete report will be provided at the annual Winter Retreat.
Please mark your calendars to attend the 2022 WYOGA Annual Winter Retreat, December 9, 2022 at the Holiday Inn in Riverton. Invitations were mailed November 1st with the details for the meeting. The deadline to reserve your room is November 25th. If you plan to attend and need a sleeping room, please contact the Holiday Inn @ 307.856.8100 and reference WYOGA for the discounted rate of $109.00 per night.
Doug Brimeyer, Wildlife Management Coordinator, Wyoming Game & Fish Department is attending and providing an update on the elk regions and removal of the 7,250 cap.
We have a full agenda with a lot of informative information. Please plan to attend.
The period known as the interim, the time from adjournment of the session until the end of legislative terms, has wrapped up. During the interim I focused on the work of the Wildlife Taskforce which was sending recommendations to the Joint Travel, Recreation and Wildlife Committee (TRW) and Joint Judiciary Committee.
Joint TRW met in September. While most of the meeting was dominated by gaming and state parks, the committee did hear from the Wildlife Taskforce and consider their two recommendations. The bill defining mule deer and whitetail as distinct species within state statute failed to get a motion. The bill draft dies due to lack of action. It could come back as an individual bill during the session, however given the resident hunter outcry against the idea, I do not anticipate any legislator taking it up.
Weighted bonus points came up next. Again, the seeds of disinformation had been sown by the resident hunter groups. The bill did advance on a 9-5 vote to the session as a committee bill. The no votes were Sen Salazar, Reps Haroldson, Jennings, Sweeny and Winter.
On November 2nd, Joint TRW held its final meeting for the interim. The agenda was light. The Committee heard the recommendation from the Wildlife Taskforce to increase the non-resident special draw fees to $1,250 for elk, $826 for deer and $874 for antelope. The committee agreed by a 10-4 vote to sponsor the taskforce recommendation as a committee bill. Senator Salazar, Reps. Jennings, Knapp and Haroldson were the no votes.
Senator Hicks came before the committee as a member of the Taskforce and attempted to offer an amendment that would have increased the non-resident license fees to $3000 for sheep, $2750 for mountain goat, $6000 for bison, $7500 for grizzly and $2750 for moose. The amendment that was offered in concept only, and not given to the committee in paper form, was met with opposition from the Committee Co-Chairs Rep. Flitner and Senator Ellis. It failed. Look for Hicks to bring it as an individual bill during the session.
Over the course of three meetings, Joint Judiciary worked on the trespass issue. On November 10th, Joint Judiciary Committee had its final meeting of the interim. The committee has advanced an interaction of Representative Crago’s bill to make it illegal to trespass to hunt or collect shed antlers. The bill passed out 12 for, Rep. Yen the lone no vote with Senator Kolb excused. The bill will now be heard in the next legislative session as a committee bill. The Wyoming Stock Growers Association did not testify for or against the bill. With WYOGA, Wyoming Outdoor Council, Wyoming Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police, Wyoming County/Prosecuting Attorney Association and members of the public speaking for the bill.
In September, Joint Judiciary added drones to the definition of aircraft, passing unanimously. This is more of a cleanup bill to ensure that drones cannot be used to take wildlife.
Bills that have been sponsored over the interim by Joint Judiciary and Joint TRW will move forward to the Legislative General Session in January of 2023.
2023 Legislative Leadership:
On November 19th, the House and Senate Republican Caucuses met to elect leadership. In a hotly contested race for Speaker, Albert Sommers defeated Freedom Caucus member Mark Jennings 30 to 27 to become the Speaker of the House. Freedom Caucus member Chip Neiman defeated Jarred Olsen to become the Majority Floor Leader. Cyrus Western and Clark Stith also defeated Freedom Caucus members to become Whip and Speaker Pro Temp.
On the Senate side, Ogden Driskill prevailed to become Senate President with Larry Hicks serving as Majority Floor Leader and Dave Kinksey as the Senate Vice President.
We will look for Albert and Ogden to announce committee chairmanships and committee assignments in the coming days.
I will provide additional information at the WYOGA Annual Winter Retreat in Riverton.