CHEYENNE – Governor Mark Gordon announced a series of proposals and initiatives designed to aid Wyoming’s economic recovery by enhancing and strengthening the state’s energy, tourism, and agriculture sectors.
Energy and mining are the largest contributors to Wyoming’s revenue and are having a huge impact on the state’s overall employment picture, according to a governor’s office press release. Governor Gordon said he supports bills that provide severance tax relief to the energy industry and improve the ability of the newly created Wyoming Energy Authority to promote the development of technologies for carbon capture, trona, rare earth elements and critical minerals.
“The energy and mining sectors are the main pillars of our economy and they have provided what it takes to give this nation the luxury of searching for new forms of energy,” said Governor Gordon. “Let me be clear. Our traditional industries will adapt and continue to deliver the reliable, affordable, and shippable energy they always have, only better. Our economic recovery will depend on the health of these industries and their ability to adapt to changing market demands Wyoming can continue to grow as our energy mix evolves. “
“While some are suggesting the demise of coal soon – and they are facing many challenges right now – we believe that coal, coupled with new technologies, is an integral part of the solution to reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) in our atmosphere,” continued the governor away. “Carbon sequestration and carbon byproduct development will be part of Wyoming’s energy future. This also applies to research into the extraction of rare earth elements and critical minerals associated with coal, which are required for the batteries that drive the expected global expansion of wind and solar energy. “
Tourism remains a major engine of the state economy and employs most of the Wyoming workforce, Governor Gordon said. 2020 brought record visitor numbers, supported businesses in Wyoming, and secured jobs for residents. House Bill 0058, sponsored by the Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife & Cultural Resources Committee, would provide an overall funding reduction of $ 1.1 million for Wyoming State Parks by allowing them to fund self-generated funds (fees) on a larger scale to use for operations and surgeries outdoor recreation instead of capital building. This supports the Wyoming economy and local communities, according to the press release.
“Our state parks offer world-class experiences and opportunities for tourists and residents alike, and have seen visitor numbers grow by approximately 36% nationwide over the past year. This trend is expected to continue through 2021,” said Governor Gordon. “It is important to ensure that we continue to properly fund these parks and historic sites that are vital to our state’s economy.”
Several meat processing-related bills are under review and the governor is working with lawmakers to expand processing capacity in the state.
“This is just part of an ambitious initiative aimed at adding value to products across the farm spectrum,” said Governor Gordon. “These efforts are essential to growing this important part of our economy.”
Of particular interest to the governor and first lady is House Bill 0052 – Wyoming School Protein Enhancement Project, sponsored by the Joint Agriculture Committee. The governor said the bill would not only help school districts improve Wyoming meat products in school feeding programs, but also provide another opportunity to feed the children who are not getting enough to eat every day – a focus of the First Lady’s Hunger Initiative .
The Governor welcomed the passage of House Bill 0053 – Invasive Plant Species. The legislation would implement several of the recommendations made in the Governor’s final report of the Invasive Species Initiative and give local districts more leeway to implement specific management programs for invasive species.
Senator Tara Nethercott, Chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and House Speaker Eric Barlow are drafting a law to improve the Attorney General’s antitrust law enforcement agency, which includes a much-needed update of state law to ensure fair competition within the state, Wyoming’s marketplace it in the press release.
In 2020, Wyoming ranchers were impacted by consolidations and acquisitions in the broader agribusiness. However, Wyoming has been banned from investigating these measures because current antitrust laws do not allow the attorney general to investigate possible violations.
Spokesman Barlow and Senator Nethercott’s bill ensures that Wyoming does not have to rely on other states or the federal government to advance the interests of our residents in a competitive market that benefits businesses and consumers alike. The bill will not only benefit our agriculture but also ensure fair competition in all Wyoming markets, the governor said.
“With Wyoming’s challenging economic outlook, protecting our ranch and farming community is more important than ever,” said Senator Nethercott. “The market manipulation we saw last year when we highlighted our country’s meat prices is detrimental to both producers and consumers in Wyoming. I am proud to sponsor this bill to empower our attorney general to first protect all industries and consumers in Wyoming from these illegal practices. “