The 64th Session of the Wyoming Legislature is now part of history in the making for Wyoming but will be remembered by many
as a roller coaster ride never coming to an end. There were 194 House Bills, 10 House Joint Resolutions, 121 Senate Files
and 5 Senate Joint Resolutions which is a huge work load for a twenty day Budget Session.
WPEA lobbyists followed
or had an interest in 48 bills (see list of bills on page 2 with their outcome). The General Government Appropriations Bill
HB0001/SF0001 (Budget Bill) was the number one priority for WPEA.
The Budget Bill during second and
third reading amendments saw a number of attacks to health insurance. HB0001 Second Reading Amendment No. 54 sponsored by
Rep. Marti Halverson (R) HD22 would have increased employee deductibles for health insurance by an amount equal to 10 percent
of the employee annual deductible for 2018-2019 and for 2019-2020 a percentage equal to nine percent of annual deductible.
The amendment failed following comments from Rep. Albert Sommers (R) HD20 who stated that insurance deductibles had already
been increased. Rep. Donald Burkhardt (R) HD15 stated, Don't hammer state employees and Rep. James Byrd (D) HD44 stated, They
are not getting raises and yet you want to cut their benefits.
HB0001 Second Reading Amendment No. 43 sponsored by
Rep. Halverson and Rep. Scott Clem (R) HD31
would have reduced the employer/employee split for insurance. The amendment
would have change the State's percentage from 85% to 84% from December 2018-November 2019 and to 83% from December 2019-November
2020. It included a reduction to 82% for 2021-2022. This amendment failed by a vote of 24 yeas and 32 noes.
Third Reading Amendment No. 39 Rep. Clem sponsored to reduce the 85% employer paid health insurance to 84.5% from December
1, 2018 through June 30, 2020 and to 84% for the 2021-2022 biennium. This amendment also failed.
Second Reading Amendment
No. 35 to HB0001 sponsored by Rep. Cheri Steinmetz (R) HD5 would have reduced the health insurance contribution for retirees
from $5.75 to $5.18 in 2019 and in 2020 to $4.66 the amount paid per month per year of service up to a maximum of thirty years
for retirees who are Medicare eligible. The amendment would further reduce the payment in 2021-2022 to $4.19 and $3.77 respectively.
Following efforts of WPEA lobbyists, Betty Jo Beardsley and Ken Decaria who visited with several House members explaining
the impact to retirees, this amendment was withdrawn by the sponsor.
A Third Reading Amendment to SF0001 on the Employees
Group Insurance directed the agency to examine and report on the feasibility and estimated savings resulting from increasing
deductibles by $1,000.00 under each health insurance plan option. The House did not support this amendment and it was deleted
in the Joint Conference Committee.
Governor Mead signed House Bill 1, the budget bill, into law using his
line item veto power to successfully strike eight issues. Of the eight issues vetoed, the House of Representatives attempted
to override on four issues which all failed to received the required two-thirds vote.
Agency 001, Office of the Governor
- This would have eliminated one full time position from the Governor's office. Failed 31 ayes, 24 noes, 5 excused.
077, Enterprise Technology Services; Directs ETS to maintain, support, replace security and surveillance systems at the Wyoming
Boys and Girls Schools. Failed: 19 ayes, 36 noes, 5 excused.
Section 312 Statewide employee reduction and budget reduction.
This section was asking for 50 positions or resource allocations to be cut. Failed: 33 ayes, 22 noes, 5 excused.
313 School Capital Construction;The footnote requires the board of land commissioners to evaluate potential land sales and
exchanges and; find that the lands are not suitable as a location for the construction of an elementary, middle or high school.
Failed: 34 ayes, 21 noes, 5 excused.
HB0109 Public Employee Retirement Plan Contributions passed in
this Budget Session will increase contributions to the Public Employee Pension by 2 percent, split equally between the employees
and employers in 0.25% increase over four years. This is a gradual increase making it easier for both parties to adjust. The
bill was amended to allow employers to pay the full 2%.
HB0110 Wyoming Retirement Plans; Member Accounts. Account
Refunds will keep more employer dollars in the plan resulting in lower contribution requirements. Refunds presently consist
of the employee contributions plus interest, regardless of whether the employer picked it up.
A member who leaves
service may seek a refund and then forfeits any future benefits from the pension. An non-vested individual will be refunded
only contributions paid out-of-pocket plus interest.
Anyone who is vested and stays in the system will not be affected
by this legislation which affects members hired on or after July 1, 2018.
The WPEA lobbyists would
like to thank all the legislators who supported public employees by voting for their issues, protecting their benefits and
for taking time from the busy schedule during this Legislative Session to visit with the WPEA lobbyists.
thank you to Ken Decaria who contracted with WPEA as a lobbyist for this Session and was invaluable in our lobbying effort.
Finally, a special thanks to all the WPEA members who attended the Legislative Reception sponsored by the WEA and WPEA. Our
attendance was exceptional and your interaction with our guest Legislators represented our values well.