It's back to working non-budget bills in the Legislature as lawmakers took the day off from the budget debate. That resumes tomorrow.
Don't be surprised to see another 70 or more amendments to the budget on its final reading Friday. Once it passes it will then go to a conference committee to hash out the differences between the Senate and House versions. The action now coming to the Senate as many of the still alive high-profile house bills are in that chamber waiting for debate, like the gas tax bill.
House Bill 69 would raise the fuel tax 10 cents a gallon. The extra 10 cents would generate $70 million a year for road construction and maintenance. One opponent, who sponsored a bill to ease the burden by phasing in the tax over four years and using some mineral severance tax to make up the difference needed, says House Bill 69 is a case of shifting the tax burden from the big guys to the little guys.
Another measure starting to draw a lot of attention is House Bill 79. It passed the House and is waiting to be debated in the Senate. Many say this is an anti-employee bill even though sponsor Tim Stubson didn't intend it to be. The bill amends the definition of unpaid wages to exclude accrued vacation. Just the opposite of what the law is now.
If this bill were to become law, if you're fired or retire or move on to another job, you're employer does not have to pay you for any vacation time you didn't use. That policy would have to be in writing.
Senator Bernadine Craft is offering an amendment to clarify the word "termination" which under the bill can mean leaving for any reason. The Senate passed the interstate sales of health insurance on a first vote.
House Bill 82 would make it easier for out of state health insurers to offer policies in Wyoming, but Senator Charles Scott says that doesn't mean lower costs for policies. According to Scott, healthcare costs more here because of what he calls medicare discrimination, a shortage of providers reducing competition, and the unwillingness to enact tort reform. House Bill 82 on a second vote Friday.
It wouldn't be a surprise if both houses spend most of Friday working the budget. The other bills will be back Monday.