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Governor signs three bills from special session

Few legislators sit in a nearly empty House chamber during a special legislative session Friday, May 15, 2020, inside the state Capitol in downtown Cheyenne. The session was conducted online as many legislators opted to use livestreaming, rather than appear inside the Capitol. Michael Cummo/Wyoming Tribune Eagle
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Governor Mark Gordon has signed three pieces of legislation passed by the Wyoming Legislature that provide a framework for spending $1.25 billion in federal funding awarded to the State through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

Governor Mark Gordon

The bills were developed and passed during the Legislature’s special session held electronically on May 15-16.

Senate File 1001 gives the Governor further flexibility to spend the $1.25 billion in CARES Act funding through three allotments. It sets out $450 million immediately, an additional $400 million starting on July 15 and the remaining balance of $400 million beginning Sept. 15.

Senate File 1002 makes changes to the State’s unemployment insurance program and workers compensation program. It also creates an eviction prevention program that will be administered by the Wyoming Community Development Authority.

House Bill 1004 provides funding to establish three business-relief programs that will provide assistance to Wyoming companies impacted by COVID-19 and health orders. It allocates $50 million for the “Wyoming Business Interruption Stipend Program” to help businesses with 50 or fewer employees with grants of up to $50,000 dollars; $225 million for the “Coronavirus Business Relief Stipend Program” to assist businesses with up to 100 employees with stipends of up to $300,000; and $50 million for the “Coronavirus Mitigation Stipend Program” that will help Wyoming businesses of any size pay for COVID-19 related expenses up to $500,000.

The Governor exercised his line-item veto authority to address two elements of House Bill 1004. The first addresses the timing of the allocation of funds. Under the bill as written, the Legislature appropriated $325 million for these business relief programs, but required the entire appropriation be applied to the initial $450 million. This would limit the Governor’s flexibility to address other urgent needs prior to July 15.

The second line-item veto removes the $20,000 minimum amount that businesses would be eligible for under the Business Interruption Stipend Program. This better aligns the grant to the true need of the smallest businesses with minor losses.

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