The Saratoga Sun -

Notices will stay ... for now

 

March 11, 2020



Last month, the Saratoga Sun informed our readers of three pieces of legislation that had made their way through the House of Representatives and were headed to the Senate (see “Your right to know is at stake” on page 4 of the February 19 Saratoga Sun). Since then, we have kept an eye on that legislation.

On Wednesday, all three bills were overwhelmingly passed by the Senate. The bills were then sent over to the House of Representatives for concurrence to determine if the House agreed with changes made by the Senate. All three bills passed concurrence as of Thursday afternoon and, as of Friday, had been signed by the House Speaker and Senate President.

The silver linings to be found within these bills is that these public notices will remain in Wyoming newspapers.

For now.

We feel that we cannot overstate enough the fact that, due to many of these bills requiring additional publication on the state procurement website or a public entity’s official website, there will be additional future attempts such as this.

Listed below is the amended language of the three bills since it’s passed the House and how your legislators voted, both in the Senate and in the House on concurrence.

HB0050

Status: Signed by House Speaker and Senate President

Senator Larry Hicks: Aye

Representative Jerry Paxton: Aye

Representative Donald Burkhart: Aye

HB0050 would amend, among other things, Wyoming State Statute 21-3-110 which currently dictates that school districts must publish a call for bids for purchase of insurance, supplies or materials equal to or more than $25,000. Those bids must be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the district. 

The amended language would allow those bids to also be published on the state procurement website. That is originally amended language from the House that has made its way through the Senate and concurrence.

Also under this statute, school districts are required to publish a call for bids for any school construction or repair that would cost $50,000 or more in a newspaper of general circulation within the state for two consecutive weeks. 

The amended language when it left the House would have removed that notice from newspapers altogether. Following its introduction in the Senate, however, that language has since been changed. Now, the call for bids must be published in a newspaper of general circulation within the district at least once each week for two consecutive weeks.

On a local level, what this means is that any major construction or repairs undertaken by Carbon County School District No. 2 in excess of $50,000 would be required to be published in the Saratoga Sun.

HB0051

Status: Signed by House Speaker and Senate President

Senator Larry Hicks: Aye

Representative Jerry Paxton: Aye

Representative Donald Burkhart: Aye

The House version of HB0051, which amends the procurement of professional services, removed procurement of professional services over $50,000 from being published in a newspaper of general circulation within the state once a week for two consecutive weeks. Instead, it only required that notice be published on the state procurement website for two weeks.

The final version of this legislation keeps the newspaper publication requirement and adds the publication on the state procurement website. 

HB0052

Status: Signed by House Speaker and Senate President

Senator Larry Hicks: Aye

Representative Jerry Paxton: Aye

Representative Donald Burkhart: Aye

The purpose of HB0052 was to amend the Wyoming State Statute in regards to public works and contracts. In the House version of this bill, municipalities or joint powers board would no longer be required to publish a notice of final payment 10 days prior to final payment. This notice, in the past, has served as a way to notify subcontractors having any labor or material claims to submit those claims to the municipalities or joint powers board.

The amended language from the House, which survived to the final version, removes that requirement. 

The second amendment that would have affected public notices in newspapers would have removed the requirement of publication of a certificate of substantial completion. Instead, it would have allowed either a municipality or a joint powers board to publish the notice on the state procurement website or the public entity’s official website.

The final version of HB0052 has seen some changes from that originally proposed language. A certificate of substantial completion must still be published in a newspaper nearest the point the work is being completed, but only once a week for two consecutive weeks instead of three consecutive weeks. There is still a requirement to post on the state procurement website or the public entity’s website.

What to Expect

HB0052 will come into effect on July 1, 2020. Portions of HB0051 and HB0050 will go into effect on October 1, 2020. 

For the time being, readers of Wyoming newspapers will still be able to find public notices where they have been able to find them for over a century. They will also be able to access them at wyopublicnotices.com. Despite the initial attempts by the House of Representatives, the public will still be able to be informed as to where their money is being spent.

The requirement to also publish these notices on the state procurement website or a public entity’s official website, however, sets a concerning precedent. As stated previously, it is entirely possible there will be future attempts to change this long standing tradition. Providing the alternatives of publishing on a government website all but insures this.

We would ask our readers to keep in mind the following; public notices are a fraction of any government entity’s budget, public notices in newspapers are permanent and remain unchanged, public notices in newspapers keep your government accountable and Governor Mark Gordon ran on a platform of transparency.

While this session is nearing its end, we would still implore our readers to keep in contact with their representatives and remind them how important accessibility and accountability are to the public. Your state representatives are listed below:

Senator Larry Hicks

Email: Larry.Hicks@wyoleg.gov

Phone: 307-383-7192

Representative Jerry Paxton

Email: Jerry.Paxton@wyole.gov

Phone: 307-327-5373

Representative Donald

Burkhart

Email: Donald.Burkhart@wyoleg.gov

Phone: 307-321-7074

 

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