Leadership Sets Policy & Schedule for 2016 Session
By LWV Wyoming Lobbyist Marguerite Herman, January 11, 2016
What Information did the Management Council receive before the session?
The Management Council, composed of leaders of state House and Senate, met last week to hear several reports and make some important decisions. Find a wealth of reports and other information in the material prepared for the meeting at http://legisweb.state.wy.us/InterimCommittee/2015/SMCINDEX0104.pdf
Where is the Legislature meeting while the Capitol is being remodeled?
The Legislature will meet in 2016, 2017 and 2018 in the Jonah Financial Center, 3001 E. Pershing Blvd., which creates some special circumstances for the lawmakers and for the public who wants to observe or participate.
Here’s more information: http://legisweb.state.wy.us/lsoweb/docs/2016JonahGuidebook.pdf .
It includes a layout of the building, rules and schedule for the session and other information.
Where can I find agendas and listen to the sessions?
On the Legislative Service Office home page, you can link to the agenda and audio stream of the Joint Appropriations Committee budget hearings (http://legisweb.state.wy.us/lsoweb/session/SessionHome.aspx) . Under “Current Items of Interest,” you’ll find the 2016 schedule and a list of bills that have been filed so far. The Management Council decided to meet Feb. 8 to March 4, using all 20 days available for the short budget session.
What are the guidelines for demonstrations at the Jonah Building?
Because the Jonah Financial Center is a private building with other tenants, the Legislature is restricting public demonstrations, protests and other gatherings indoors and directing large and loud groups to an area outside on the east side of the building. You may apply to the Capital Building Commission for permission to gather inside the building, but you are expected to keep things small and low-key.
How good is the cell phone service at the Jonah Building?
Cell phone service is very weak, and the Legislature is relying on service providers (Verizon and AT&T, so far) to install their own equipment to boost the signal for their own customers. Wi-fi is the same as at the Capitol.
What additional meeting space is planned in the Capitol complex after the renovations?
An LSO report described the desperate fire safety, structural and other renovation needs of the Capitol and the rationale for working on the Herschler Building at the same time. LWV and other groups have been very vocal about improving public access to committees, and the joint renovation will remedy that situation.
New meeting room configuration (with audio streaming):
- 4 meeting rooms that seat about 50 in the Capitol, including one two-story room with a public seating balcony
- 6 rooms in the southern end of the Capitol Extension (underground Capitol-Herschler connector): four will seat 75 members of the public and two will seat 100 members of the public
- Auditorium seating 200-300 in the north end of the Capitol Extension
What’s happening with legislator pay?
The Joint Corporations Committee shared its research on legislative compensation and per diem payments, how it compares to other elected officials and how it falls short of actual living costs. The per diem for lodging and food while on the road for meetings and the session is $109, which means that legislators pay the difference from their own pockets. The pay is $150 per day. The Management Council gave no support to the idea that compensation be increased, at least to the minimum federal per diem of $127. Question: Has legislative service become impossible for all but a handful of Wyoming citizens?
Where can I get more information?