Feb 6, 2014 - By Alejandra Silva, Staff WriterA change in tax structure could encourage the idled repair operation in Shoshoni to reopen.
As bills for the Wyoming legislature come close to completion by their respective sponsors before the session convenes, local representatives are making their final decisions for bills to co-sponsor. House District 34 Rep. Rita Campbell has in mind several she plans to support.
Railcars and horse trailers
House District 4 Rep. Dan Kirkbride of Chugwater is sponsoring a bill that applies an sales tax exemption on repair of railroad cars in the state. The current tax on the railroad cars, Campbell said, is whatever the county sales tax is.
The second-term Republican said she finds interest in the subject because this bill could affect the idled railcar repair facility in Shoshoni that could reopen.
"If we don't address it this year it will be too late," she said. "This exemption is to sunset in 2015."
The repair industry on railroad rolling stock, she said, is a competitive industry, and beneficial changes in sales tax plays a big role in the competition among states.
Campbell also is following a bill that would change the state
registration fee on horse trailers. Currently, owners are charged a flat fee of about $15 on a horse trailer and up to $60 for heavier trailers. The bill calls for a change in price depending on each type of trailer. A chart would help owners distinguish their trailer sin order to apply the correct fee. Campbell said county residents would be affected by those changes and most likely not be content with them.
Campbell predicted the $10 million court security fund in the budget would pass so long as legislators are aware of the help it would provide to municipalities, especially in Riverton.
" We have a compelling case of how badly this is needed in Fremont County," she said. "I hope other legislators understand why this request is being made."
Fremont County Commissioners expect to have that state assistance through this fund for the planned Riverton justice center.
The care of patients at the Wyoming Life Resource Center, Campbell said, should be a priority at this point after what a state study found. Lawmakers conducted the analysis last year that determined clients could be better off receiving services elsewhere at a different facility due to age and condition of the facility in Lander. She said whether the facility was closed or replaced with a new one, it was most important to continue that 24/7 care most residents already receive.
She agreed with the state's argument that the facility is old and is costing the state a lot of money, but staff there are still providing an important service.
"If we could expand the enrollment in it, it could reduce the cost per patient," she said. "But we do need to take care of those people some way, somehow."
Campbell isn't firm on her stance on the state reimbursing counties for payments in lieu of taxes the federal government is threatening to eliminate. A bigger issue for Campbell was the federal government's decision to do so, which she said was unfair.
"We are entitled to our PILT because we have so much federal land" that does not generate property taxes locally, Campbell said. "And yet, we're responsible for being good stewards to that land."
A recent opinion from the Environmental Protection Agency that determined Riverton to be within the exterior boundaries of the Wind River Indian Reservation was a topic Campbell said she wasn't comfortable addressing. She said it was "strange," however, that the agency made that type of decision.
"It's a difficult thing for people to be subjected to," she said, adding that regardless of that boundary determination by the EPA, she has "deep roots and feels very close" to the territory she represents as a legislator.
Campbell said she invites any correspondence from the community as she prepares to travel to Cheyenne next week for the budget session.
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