SHERIDAN — The members of the Wyoming House of Representatives and the Wyoming Senate have finalized their leadership and committee assignments following party caucuses last weekend.
Members of leadership will be sworn in during opening ceremonies on the first day of the session, slated to begin at noon on Jan. 13, according to a media release.
One Sheridan County delegate was elected to leadership in the state Legislature.
Rep. Rosie Berger, R-Big Horn, was elected to be Majority Floor Leader in the House of Representatives. The position is the second highest leadership position.
Berger’s duties will include directing activities on the floor, offering the formal motions necessary for conducting legislative business and regulating the daily schedule, including the order of the bills considered by the entire House of Representatives, also known as the Committee of the Whole.
House and Senate committee assignments were also made last weekend.
Rep. Mike Madden, R-Buffalo, and Rep. Mark Jennings, R-Sheridan, were appointed to the House Revenue Committee. Madden will serve as chairman of the committee. Jennings was elected to the House of Representatives Nov. 4, and this will be his first term in the Legislature.
Jennings will also serve on the House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee.
The revenue committee deals with issues related to revenue generation and collection, including taxation and mineral and tourism revenue.
The corporations committee focuses on election law, public utilities and the conduct of business in the state.
Rep. John Patton, R-Sheridan, was elected to his fourth term as a representative in the general election. He will serve as the chairman of the House Education Committee. The committee focuses on educational policy, state education administration, school safety and statewide education goals.
A key issue for the education committee will be reinstating the state education system following the Wyoming Supreme Court’s ruling that Senate File 104 was unconstitutional. The roles and duties of the state superintendent of public instruction and the Department of Education will need to be reviewed and reinstated.
The committee will also work on an educational accountability bill that will consider how to make all 48 school districts in the state accountable to testing standards.
In the Senate, Sen. Bruce Burns, R-Sheridan, gave up his spot as chairman of the Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee to take a spot on the Senate Appropriations Committee.
At the Dayton Town Council meeting Wednesday, Burns said he hopes this new position will enable him to be influential, in particular, for the natural gas pipeline project being pursued by Dayton, Ranchester and Sheridan County School District 1 officials.
Burns said he believes appropriations will be flat for the next few years, so it will be important to convince fellow legislators that the natural gas project is worth funding because it will serve as a pilot project for small communities across the state facing similar challenges.
Sen. Dave Kinskey, R-Sheridan, will serve on the Senate Judiciary Committee and the Senate Revenue Committee. Kinskey was appointed to fill the Senate District 22 seat left vacant by the death of Sen. John Schiffer, R-Kaycee, in June. Kinskey has done some interim committee work over the summer and fall, but this will be his first session as a senator.
The judiciary committee, which Schiffer chaired in 2013 and 2014, deals with justice system policy and administration.
In the 2014 interim session, the committee discussed the need to update statutory provisions related to children in need of supervision, examined what background information is provided to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System used to determine eligibility to purchase firearms, reviewed information on the need to amend provisions relating to Wyoming’s method of execution and more.
Berger said this week that there are 14 new members of the House of Representatives and three new members of the Senate following the general election. Five of the committees on each side also have new chairmen. She said it will be important for individuals and organizations like the Tongue River Valley Joint Powers Board to get to know the new legislators as issues move forward in the coming session.
The 10 standing legislative committees in both the House and the Senate are:
• Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources
• Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources
• Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions
• Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs
• Minerals, Business and Economic Development
• Labor, Health and Social Services