Could this be the year Wyoming gets a lottery? Well, we're one step closer.
The Wyoming lottery bill has legs as it squeaks by the House on a final vote 31-28 and one excused. House Bill 77 provides for a state lottery and allows Wyoming to join the multi-state Powerball, if approved by the lottery board the bill creates. Money from lottery sales would go to cities and counties.
One study shows revenues of 8 to 10 million dollars a year. Another study shows 20 to 40 million dollars a year. The bill still has to pass the Senate, but for now supporters are quietly celebrating.
The House passes on a second vote the "gag the whistleblower" bill. House Bill 126 would criminalize undercover investigations of Wyoming factory farms. This comes after Wyoming law enforcement charged nine factory farm workers with animal cruelty following an undercover investigation at a pig farm in Wheatland last spring. Final house vote Tuesday.
The Senate has passed House Bill 223 on a second vote. This fast-track bill allows searches for University of Wyoming and state community college presidents to be closed to the public. Final Senate vote Tuesday.
Both houses are working on the $147 million supplemental budget. The bill includes $77 million in new General Fund spending, $10 million in federal funds, $4.5 million from the school capital construction account, and $55 million in other funds. It also recommends a $62 million cut in General Fund spending.
The Joint Appropriations Committee has recommended against following Governor Mead's call to reduce the flow of money into permanent savings to increase the state's so-called rainy day fund. Mead is warning the state may need to access more ready cash in coming years of projected flat revenues. Some senior lawmakers believe the state needs to continue to grow permanent savings for the interest income it generates.
The Permanent Minerals Trust Fund used to cover 25 percent of General Fund spending. That figure is down to 15 percent.