Wyoming lawmakers wrapped up the 2024 budget session on Friday by approving a $10.6 billion biennial budget for the two years that starts on July 1.

Lawmakers Passed A Compromise Budget On Friday

The budget bill passed the House with a comfortable 41-21 margin. It was much closer in the Senate, but the compromise deal was approved in that house by a 17-14 margin, following some heated debate on Friday. The budget now goes to Governor Mark Gordon, who has three days to issue any vetoes.

The $10.6 billion included in the final budget was roughly halfway between the budget bills orignally passed by both houses. House members had originally submitted a proposal totaling $11.1 billion, while the Senate had signed off on a $9.9 billion spending plan.

One of the sticking points in finalizing a budget had been the issue of whether to approve funding for a new high school in Rock Springs. The final budget does include $150 million for that project.

Although the budget was job one for lawmakers this session, it was not the only high-profile issue they dealt with.

But The Session Dealt With Non-Budget Issues As Well

Among the others were:

-Property Taxes. The legislature on the last day approved three more property tax relief bills. House Bill 45 caps property tax increases at 4% annually. Senate File 54 24 exempts 25% of the value of homes worth udner $2 million from property tax valuations. House Bill 4 extends an existing tax refund program to people making up to 165 % of median income either for the state as a whole or the county in which they live.

Two more property tax bills had already been passed in the session, Senate File 89, to help veterans, and House Bill 3.

But another notable property tax bill did not win approval. House Bill 203 woould have given an exemption of up to $1 million on property taxes to Wyoming homeowners. The revenues lost by that exemption would have been replaced by a statewide 2 percent increase in sales taxes. In practice, this bill would have erased residential property taxes for most Wyoming homeowners. But it was resoundingly defeated on a 47-14 House vote.

-Gun-Free Zones. Gun-rights advocates have been trying for years to get a law eliminating most gun-free zones in the state. They won approcal this year for House Bill 125, which would get rid of gun free zones in schools, colleges and universities and governmental meetings, among others. There was some drama around this bill when it was voted down on Monday in the Senate Judiciary Committee by a 3-2 margin. Usually a negative committee vote is the end of the line for bills in the legislature. But this time supporters of the bill in the Senate pulled House Bill 125 out of the Judiciary Committee and on to the floor of the Senate, where it was approved 22-8. It remains to be seen whether Governor Gordon might veto all fo the bill or some portion of it.

-Sex Changes For Minors. Senate File 99, also originally known as "Chloe's Law, sailed through both houses of the legislature with relative ease, although the Wyoming House did amend the bill to eliminate the "Chloe's Law" title. The bill essentially outlaws sex change medical procedures for people under the age of 18, although it does include some medical exemptions. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Anthony Bouchard [R-Laramie County] passed the House 54-7 and the Senate on a 26-5 vote.

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