Wyoming-State of State

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon enters the House Gallery with his wife, first lady Jennie Gordon, during the second day of the 65th Wyoming Legislature’s 40-day general session in Cheyenne.

There’s still a possibility Gov. Mark Gordon could veto some or all of House Bill 293, which paves the way for the University of Wyoming to construct more than $300 million of new dorms.

HB 293 was not included on the list of bills Gordon is scheduled to sign this Friday. Instead, it’s included on a list of bills Gordon will “announce his decision” on that day.

Rachel Girt, spokeswoman for the governor’s office, told the Laramie Boomerang that means Gordon won’t sign the bill as is.

Instead, he has three options: He can veto the bill in its entirety, he can veto portions of the bill, or he can let the bill become law without his signature.

That last option is typically used in Wyoming by governors who want to express concerns about a bill, but don’t want to prevent the bill from becoming law.

Under the Wyoming Constitution, Gordon also has line-item veto power over all bills that provide appropriations — not just the annual budget bills.

“The governor shall have power to disapprove of any item or items or part or parts of any bill making appropriations of money or property embracing distinct items,” the Constitution states.

In 1998, the Wyoming Constitution determined that language means the governor can line-item veto any portion such a bill, not just the portions making appropriations.

“I can’t tell you want the decision is going to be,” Girt said of Friday’s announcement.

On the final night of this year’s legislative session, the dorms bill was nearly killed in the Senate after some heavy-hitting legislators expressed opposition to a last-minute deal the included $34 million for UW to defease some of its current bond debt.

After a joint conference committee came to that compromise, no senators who sit on the Joint Appropriations Committee voted for the deal.

While the deal passed 16-12, Sen. Dave Kinskey, R-Sheridan, said the $34 million loan ran counter to “the conservative principles of this body” and Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, said the deal set a “real dangerous precedent.”

“When we go home, how are we going to explain to our constituents that we’re going to allow $34 million of defeasance for one particular spot in our state?” Bebout said. “If you say ’yes’ one time, how to do say ‘no’ to other people.”

When Gordon made line-item vetoes to the supplemental budget bill, he said he also favors a “traditional approach” in the Legislature’s funding methods.

(3) comments

mandatory field

It's great UW continuously refreshes its housing, but $300M is a little rich in our economic environment.

Brett Glass

This bill deserves a full veto. It was railroaded through the Legislature without ever being heard by an interim committee. Even the members of the UW housing task force did not see the text, of which some of them disapproved, before it was introduced. There was no chance for the public to comment on its provisions. It was then further tweaked and changed several times during the final days of the session, again with no opportunity for meaningful public participation. One Laramie legislator attempted to add the Laramie City Manager to an advisory committee that would provide input to the project (though the committee was not actually granted authority to enforce its advice), and even THAT amendment - adopted at first - was stripped from the final bill late at night.

The bill as it was sent to the Governor's desk affords our community no local control over UW's territorial ambitions. It would allow UW to close 15th Street indefinitely, splitting our city in two for more than a mile. It would also allow UW to construct new dorms without regard for local planning and zoning, without substantially increasing parking, and without demolishing the old dorms (paving the way for a requirement that sophomores live in the dorms and not participate in local housing markets, which would greatly harm the local economy and tax base).

Every citizen of Laramie should take advantage of today's "snow day" to write a note to the Governor asking him to veto HB0293. He can be reached at the e-mail address governo (at) wyo.gov, and his policy chief, Buck McVeigh, should be copied at the e-mail address buck.mcveigh (at) wyo.gov. If the bill is vetoed, the issues of what to do about UW housing and parking will not die, but will be considered in interim legislative committees such as the Joint Appropriations Committee. Citizens will then get at least a fighting chance of having some input.

Brett Glass

P.S. - Typo! That e-mail address for the Governor should have been governor (at) wyo.gov.

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