By David Martin

Lands bill killed in legislature


A controversial bill regarding the transfer of land from the federal government to the state was killed by Senate President Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, last week.

The bill, Senate File 3, would have proposed an amendment to the Wyoming Constitution outlining how the state would take land granted to it by the federal government. If it would have passed, Wyoming voters would have voted on the amendment during an election before it would be made into law.

In Sweetwater County, one of the outdoor enthusiasts celebrating the bill’s demise is Rock Springs resident Jessica Evans, though she admits she doesn’t trust state legislators to not resurrect the bill.

“I don’t trust them one bit. I fear they have made this announcement so everybody sits back and celebrates that it’s all over, then they turn around and sneak it in without anyone noticing,” Evans said.

Evans described the entire situation as a mess and criticized Rep. Liz Cheney for voting in favor of a rule change to allow for easier transfer of federal public lands to the states. She believes some state and federal legislators have ignored voters in the public lands discussion.

“All the complaints, phone calls and emails; everything seems to be falling on deaf ears,” she said.

She thinks the topic should still remain on the forefront, regardless of the bill’s status and encourages the state to maintain transparency regarding which legislators are working on the bill and debating it.

“That information should be made public so people can keep nagging them about it.”

Representative Stan Blake, D-Green River, said he was also glad to see the bill shelved for the session and believes a majority of Wyoming’s residents have made their voices clear as to where they stand on the issue.

“They do not want our access to public lands to be in control of the state,” he said.

While the bill could be brought back, Blake said he doesn’t expect it to return during the session.

He also hopes the Select Federal Natural Resource Funding Committee is disbanded and legislators wait and see what other states do with the public lands issue.


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