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Driskill, Sommers Think Special Session a ‘Bad Idea’

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In response to some Wyoming State Legislators calling for a Special Session to address Governor Mark Gordon’s veto of Senate File 54 (SF0054) the Homeowner tax exemption, Senate President Ogden Driskill (R-Devils Tower) and House Speaker Albert Sommers (R-Pinedale) issued a joint response to the question of a special session, saying they felt it was a “bad idea.”

Their reasoning, according to the response, included the very real possibility of not having enough time to get any legislative property tax relief efforts done in 2024.

They also cited challenging logistics of convening a special session, the costs involved, and the possibility of not being able to focus solely on overturning the Governor’s v eto on SF0054.

Although they will wait to see if legislators are interested in convening a special session, they did say they both would be “no” votes if it comes to it.

Their entire response is here:

Driskill and Sommers Special Session Response

Last week, in the aftermath of Governor Gordon’s veto of Senate File 54, the Department of Revenue conveyed to us that the veto would effectively halt any additional legislative efforts toward property tax relief in 2024. However, on Monday, the Department of Revenue informed us that property owners could be notified of the exemption in their September tax bills, although it may lead to some confusion for the taxpayer. This information made us take a second look at whether we would recommend a special session. In the end, we think a special session is a bad idea.

The logistics of convening a special session present significant challenges. Since we adjourned the 2024 Budget Session, a quick one or two-day session is not feasible. Without suspending legislative rules, which would occur only after a session is convened, bills must follow the standard process, including multiple readings and committee referrals. A joint conference committee would iron out differences between the houses before bills reach the governor for approval or veto. The Legislature must be in session to receive veto messages and vote by a two-thirds majority to override any vetoes. Realistically, a special session would require at least eight to ten days, with a price tag of about $35,000 per day.

We would likely be in favor of a special session, if we could laser-focus solely on Senate File 54, which would grant a 25% tax exemption for Wyoming homeowners on properties up to $2 million in assessed value for two years. However, we believe differing expectations make it unlikely to garner the two-thirds majority vote required to change legislative rules that would speed up the process.

Without special rules governing the special session, it’s likely to be a Pandora’s Box scenario devolving into a mini-session akin to what we witnessed in the 2021 special session, where 41 bills were filed, and only one passed. Further in 2021, we were unsuccessful in passing limiting rules for the special session. Based on our history, we fear that expecting self-restraint within the chambers might be wishful thinking. Remember, history has a tendency to repeat itself.

Calling for a special session lasting two to three weeks burdens legislators, legislative staff, and their families, who are already balancing numerous commitments including employment, medical appointments, family responsibilities, business obligations, upcoming elections, and interim duties in the months ahead.

It is crucial to emphasize the importance of safeguarding the integrity of our citizen legislature. Calling for yet another special session in 2024 would mark the third such occurrence in the last five years, hinting at a potential trend towards a full-time legislature – a direction we do not embrace. Protecting the institution of our citizen legislature means respecting its intended function and preserving its capacity to effectively address issues within the framework of regular sessions.

Remember, the legislators who are asking for a special session created delay after delay during the budget session by asking for roll call votes, trying to resurrect bills, bringing procedural motions, and filibustering debate. Simply put, they squandered precious time in a budget session where time is our enemy. We had plenty of time in our established calendar to pass bills and do veto overrides.

We cannot justify calling ourselves into a special session for matters better suited to the 2025 General Session, where we can thoroughly deliberate and develop comprehensive legislation. Management Council will meet on April 1 to begin that process of developing sound legislation for introduction at the 2025 General Session. We are calling for a vote of our members to see if they want to come into a special session, but we will be a no vote.

Albert Sommers is the Speaker of the House and has served In the Legislature since 2013. Ogden Driskill is the President of the Senate and has served in the Wyoming Legislature since 2011.



3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Avatar photo

    Dennis Fox

    March 28, 2024 at 11:08 pm

    How about a zoom mtg., special session with SF-54 tax cuts as the only topic. Would take an afternoon to over-ride the veto and give every property owner in Wyoming a TAX Cut!
    Plus we’d have a record of exactly who the high-tax, Big gov’t commies are. Focus on one issue and the scoundrels just might pay attention to the Demands of We the People…for once!

  2. Avatar photo

    David larry Williams

    March 29, 2024 at 12:35 am

    Once again, the elderly citizens of Wyoming are being denied tax relief from what is becoming an excessive burden of high property taxes by a few of the leaders of our state government. These politicans were elected to serve the will of the people in their districts, not to make it harder for those of us who love our state and the quality of life that we have here to live here. If they feel put out by having to take the time to do a little more to help us out then i would suggest that they think long and hard about serving in our citizen form of government and step aside to make room for those who will.

  3. Avatar photo

    Dennis Fox

    March 29, 2024 at 4:55 pm

    Lower Taxes Are Always Better.

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