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Lawmakers, commissioners trade concerns on legislation

Dec 27, 2012 - By Eric Blom, Staff Writer

State Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, and Republican Reps.-elect Nathan Winters of Thermopolis and Lloyd Larsen of Lander are concerned how several bills will affect local residents if they pass the coming session of the Wyoming Legislature.

The legislators expressed their concerns to the Fremont County Commission this month. The Legislature convenes Jan. 8 in Cheyenne.

Case said a bill that would allow tribal police to enforce state traffic laws would affect Fremont County.

Tribal police now have to call in a county sheriff's deputy if they stop a non-tribal member for a traffic violation on the Wind River Indian Reservation.

"That may be controversial, but only controversial if it's misunderstood," Case said about the bill.

He added that tribal police will have to take training and meet standards of state peace officers.

Thompson asked what protection residents would have if a tribal officer was abused his power.

"I think the biggest recourse you have is you're in the state court system," Case said."You're entitled to the rights of a jury trial."

Fremont County Commissioner Whiteman said she thought that if a state authority certified tribal officers, the state could also revoke that certification.

Diesel taxes

Larsen would like to change the distribution of taxes on diesel fuel.

"Right now there's a 60-40 split on fuel tax on gasoline, 60 to state, 40 to county and municipality," Larsen said, "but almost all of the diesel tax goes to the state."

The reasoning in the past, Larsen said, was that long-haul trucks accounted for most diesel fuel use. Now that's not true, he added.

"It would be nice if we could get a little piece of that pie for county and municipalities," Larsen said.

State funding of natural gas fueling infrastructure also worries Larsen.

"I think we need to help fund and get deposits (of natural gas) around the state," he said, "but i think if we're not careful we're going to run into problems with the private sector."

'The fluff'

Commission vice chairman Pat Hickerson said he thinks the state should refocus on building good, basic roads and not spend money on amenities.

"The fluff, we kind of see that," said Larsen. "That came up in our meeting.

He added, though, that federal regulations tied to highway money requires much of the extras to which Hickerson referred.

Winters also questioned how much money the Wyoming Department of Transportation spends on trails for off-road vehicles.

He said such spending is based on a formula including the number of registered snow mobiles and ATVs registered in a county and the number of registered voters.

Case also brought up a bill that would investigate how community service providers around the state could serve people at the Wyoming Life Resource Center, which cares for people with an intellectual disability or an acquired brain injury.

"I maintain that the folks currently served by the Life Resource Center can't be served effectively around the state," he said.

He also said the facility is a key driver in the local economy.

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Legislature, Wyoming