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Harshman concerned about coal and natural gas production in Wyoming

Rep. Steve Harshman, R-Casper. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City)

This article originally appeared on Oil City News. Used with permission.

CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Wyoming House of Representatives Speaker Steve Harshman believes the first week of the 65th Wyoming Legislature budget session has been productive, he told members of the media in a meeting Friday, Feb. 14. 

“Monday was probably the best day we’ve ever had in the House of Representatives,” he said. “The people of Wyoming should be proud of the work that’s being done here. I’m personally really proud of the legislators and their staff. There are a lot of hours of worry and you hear stories of people waking up at 2 a.m. due to stress.” 

It’s been a busy week for both the House and Senate, with hundreds of bills being introduced on the floor. Harshman wasn’t shocked about any bills that were passed through to committees or that were killed, though. While he was disappointed the death penalty repeal, which he co-sponsored, was quickly killed in the House, he expected that a similar bill would be back in next year’s legislature. 

Harshman reiterated that sometimes legislation is all about timing and while this current group of legislators may not pass a certain bill, it doesn’t mean that the next one or the one after that might change their minds. 

He expected Friday to be incredibly hectic, as it is the last day to introduce any new bills. The Wyoming Senate had 11 bills on the docket for introduction Friday morning prior to the floor session and the House had 41 slated to be introduced. Harshman even noted that he had a few bills on his desk he didn’t expect to be introduced on Friday due to the time crunch. 

Harshman also praised Gov. Mark Gordon’s State of the State speech from Monday, noting that there wasn’t a dry eye in the gallery following the governor’s speech.

Earlier in the week, Harshman told media members that coal and natural gas would be major priorities for him for this session, as “coal is under attack” and “this is the lowest natural gas production since the 1990s.” On Friday, he noted that “minerals fund everything in our state,” when discussing coal. 

“It pays for wildlife conservation to highways to subsidizing birth certificates and driver’s licenses,” he said. “Should you have to pay the full cost to produce your driver’s license or should we add a scoop of coal in there? There are hundreds of fees out there that haven’t even been looked at in 40 years.”

Education funding and recalibration was discussed Friday morning, with Harshman telling the media that just because the legislators will look into Wyoming’s “basket of goods,” education mandates, doesn’t necessarily mean they will cut funding from anything. 

“All I know is that this will all work out on the second floor of the People’s House,” Harshman said. “There’s no one bill that will solve all of our problems. It’s going to take hundreds of bills over a period of time.”