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SHERIDAN — On Monday and Tuesday, Sheridan will host a public meeting for an interim committee of the Wyoming Legislature. Members of the public are invited to attend and submit written information to members of the committee on topics of concern.
The Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee addresses issues related to rules and procedures for business and elections in the state, Committee Co-chair Rep. Rosie Berger, R-Big Horn, said.
Interim committees do detail work between legislative sessions, Berger said. They assess what was accomplished during the last legislative session and prioritize what issues need to be addressed in the next session. Committees review “model acts” from other states on relevant topics and use research and interaction with experts and members of the public to become knowledgeable about their focus areas.
The interim committees then draft bills on the most pressing issues to present at the next legislative session. Often, committee-sponsored bills carry more weight than bills sponsored by individuals, Berger said. This is especially true in budget years like 2014 when the general session will only be 20 days (versus 40 days) and priority will be given to bills presented by the 10 interim committees.
“Interim committees do the heavy lifting,” Berger said. “We take all the testimony, work through our constituents, look at their concerns and how legislation or current statute isn’t adapting to current needs and where we need to make changes.”
At its meetings Monday and Tuesday, the Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee will examine 13 different draft bills and host presentations on other areas of concern.
Topics to be considered include local and county government requirements for publication of legal notices; utility ratemaking for renewable resources; telecommunications issues; insurance issues, including options for electronic delivery of insurance documents; election code revisions; misclassification of employees and contractors in the building industry; standards for coroners and funeral directors; and a variety of procedures relating to business practices.
“Part of our role is to address archaic law and bring current practices up to date,” Berger said. “We will work through draft bills or proposed legislation to see if it follows in a working manner that fits with current practice for business today, or even for how we run elections.”
Several of the proposed bills deal with adapting to how consumers are getting their information by encouraging digital communication.
For example, the two draft bills regarding local and county publications of legals focus on how to reduce costs associated with publication for local governments while still making sure the information is available.
Through discussions with local government officials, committee members and press representatives, it was decided that local and county governments should publish legal notices online and in the local newspaper, reducing the amount of publication times in the paper to avoid redundancy and cut costs, Wyoming Press Association Executive Director Jim Angell said.
“Nobody wanted to remove newspapers, but they wanted to use the Internet as much as possible as a supplement,” Angell said. “When there are more sources of information, everybody wins.”
Similar forms of keeping up with the times will apply to discussion about telecommunications laws — which were last rewritten in 1996 — and how to make sure the rural state of Wyoming is well represented in upcoming federal telecommunications legislation in 2015, Berger said. Many of the draft bills also deal with protecting members of the public with updated business and insurance practices.
The meetings will run from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday in the Whitney Building, Room W153, at Sheridan College.
For more information visit www.wyoleg.gov or call (307) 777-7881.