Grow economy with less regulations – May 2017
The Wyoming Legislature adjourned in March and a new administration took over in Washington, D.C. at the beginning of the year. Government funding statewide will continue to be a concern. On the national level, we are hopeful for unnecessary and even harmful regulations to be rolled-back.
The Legislature will still have to struggle with how to fund state government when they meet next February in a Budget Session and there will be other topics for them to consider as well. I would encourage you to look at the list of interim topics and if there is a joint interim committee meeting in your area, take the time to sit in and listen to the deliberations.
The Revenue Committee will be considering some items that, if approved, will increase revenue to the State coffers and will likely mean some sort of a tax increase on the citizens. This last session we saw several fee increases through the Appropriations Committee and these fee increase will be coming online in the near future including brand fees.
On a national level, there is a concerted effort by this Administration to review regulations. The BLM Planning 2.0 rules were overturned by Congress and many of the rules EPA forced through are being reviewed. We certainly support efforts to repeal the Waters of the U.S. Rules that would have a big impact on agriculture. EPA’s guidance document on how to regulate hydrologic structures through the use of the Clean Water Act needs to be withdrawn as well. WyFB’s comments pointed out how the document ignores amendments placed on the Act by Senator Wallop and how they tried to artfully ignore that particular amendment to the Act by suggesting the document was just a guidance document. Many of us remember that was how they started out the WOTUS effort too.
When discussing the encroachment of regulations into their lives many of our members often propose that for every regulation that is adopted, one or two should be repealed. Of course a clever bureaucrat could get around this by just incorporating everything that is in a current regulation to a new one before repealing the old one and a really good bureaucrat could even repeal two for one and still never lessen the regulatory impact on the citizens. For regulations, our leaders need to ensure the bureaucracy understands the intentions.
For a land exchange between federal lands and state or private lands a one acre for one acre may make more sense. However, when dealing with land exchanges it can even get complicated when you are dealing with say a piece of land in Teton County which may be small but the dollar value would be significant. In that case, if you don’t have a no “net gain of federal land,” you might be able to trade the value of 10 acres of private land in that county for several hundred in another county. In that case an acre for acre exchange may not serve the policy as well as an exchange of dollar value.
In any event some process to try and keep more private or state land from becoming federal should be considered in any kind of these deals.
The same should be considered when people are considering more wilderness designations in Wyoming. Some years back, I analyzed the percentage of wilderness areas in Wyoming to the number of acres of Forest Service land and discovered that Wyoming has a higher percentage of Forest Service lands in wilderness than any other state. Recently the Wyoming County Commissioners Association began a process to try and address all of the BLM Wilderness Study Areas that were created over the years. For people who rely on federal lands, WSAs or de facto wilderness can be a hardship. WSA designation is an executive branch designation, but once Congress steps in and designates these areas as wilderness, the chances of the management of those areas ever changing are slim to none.
Therefore, I believe Wyoming would be well served by having a No Net Gain of wilderness areas. If Congress wants to put some areas on the BLM into wilderness, then take an equal number of acres of wilderness on Forest Service lands out of wilderness. That way perhaps Wyoming could keep from locking up anymore federal lands in a more restrictive designation and help grow our economy.
By Ken Hamilton, Wyoming Farm Bureau Federation Executive Vice President