CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Feb. 7, 2019) – Yesterday, the Wyoming Senate passed a bill which would allow for the state to temporarily take over operation of federal lands in Wyoming in the case of another shutdown.
Introduced by Sen. Charlie Scott (R-Casper), Senate File 148 (SF148) creates a process by which the state would take over operation of federal facilities, such as national parks, “If the federal government of the United States is unable for any reason to successfully operate any national park or other federal facility located within Wyoming.” [emphasis added]
The bill also calls for a process to return those lands to the federal government once a shutdown ends.
The legislation empowers the governor to take any steps necessary to “to protect any natural wonder, wildlife and plant life, cultural resource and other natural feature contained in the federal facility.”
It also requires the governor to take actions that “he judges appropriate” to ensure that public access remains “normal,” and actions that “he judges useful to facilitate the normal operation of concessionaires and lessees within the federal facility.”
In response to statements from a prominent Wyoming law professor calling the measure unconstitutional, Scott said, “When push comes to shove we’re not going to let the foolishness in Washington stand in the way of using common sense.”
An amendment approved by the Senate this week removed the use of the word “seize” in multiple areas of the bill to alleviate concerns of some opponents.
On 3rd Reading, the Senate passed SF148 by a vote of 17-12 yesterday.
SF148 will now move over to the House, where it will first need be assigned to and approved by a committee before the full House has an opportunity to concur.