The 2024 legislative budget session will begin Monday, and with it consideration of 205 bills that have already been introduced.
Even with all those bills, the focus of the session will be the consideration of the 2025/2026 biennial budget, a weighty $10.8 billion proposal that will take up a significant portion of the three-week session.
To get any legislation introduced that isn’t the budget, a two-thirds majority vote is required, which means many of those 200-plus standalone bills will likely not advance.
Those that do will require at least some level of compromise and collaboration between the Wyoming Freedom Caucus and Wyoming Caucus, the two competing Republican factions of the state House. The five Democrats in the House could also play a role, swinging a balance to either side.
And Legislature leadership is telling legislators they’re expected to be professional in those debates.
Senate President Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, said he’s already told his members they’ll have to find a way to work together to get their bills considered.
“It all depends on how we handle the splits between the bodies,” he said. “The friction is so high that if people drag their feet, it will end up just killing bills. If we all work together there will be a good chance we get to hear their bills.”
And if decorum slips, Driskill said he won’t hold back getting legislators back in line. Keeping the session civil has been a high priority for Driskill since becoming Senate president.
“I’ll have absolutely zero tolerance for anyone who talks about someone personally or goes after someone personally,” he said. “I’m fine with very hearty debates on policy, but once it gets personal, I’ll have some pretty harsh things to say to people.”
There have been 144 bills proposed so far in the House and 81 in the Senate.
Of these bills, 122 are sponsored by a committee, or roughly 59% of the total. The rest are being brought by individual legislators.
The number of bills introduced has slightly increased over the last seven years in the Legislature.
Driskill said he expects the grand total of bills to reach 400 by the Wednesday deadline, which would decrease the overall percentage of committee bills. If Driskill’s projection is correct, it would be the most bills proposed during a budget session in the history of the Legislature. The current mark is 399 in 2020.
In the last budget session of 2022, 279 bills were introduced — 122 sponsored by committee.
Legislators will have until noon Wednesday to submit their draft bills to the Legislative Service Office. Any bill that hasn’t been introduced on the floor of either chamber by Friday won’t be considered during the 2024 session.
There were 497 bills introduced during the 2023 session, but this is not an apples-to-apples comparison as non-budget sessions are much longer and do not require the same two-thirds hurdle.
Look At The First Few Days
Both chambers will gavel in separately at 10 a.m. Monday. This will be followed shortly after by Gov. Mark Gordon’s annual State of the State speech, delivered from the floor of the House.
After that, some committee meetings will be held, then the Management Council will meet at 5 p.m. Monday to discuss rules for the upcoming session.
This will involve a discussion on ethics complaints and a proposal by Rep. Mike Yin, D-Jackson, giving the council authority to pause the implementation of an administrative rule if it believes it is unlawful, which would then be considered by the Legislature.
Current law only allows the Management Council to give a recommendation to the governor on a particular rule, which the governor can then choose whether or not to accept.
On Tuesday, Sen. Cheri Steinmetz, R-Lingle, will host a Senate Agriculture State and Public Lands & Water Resources Committee meeting that will serve as an oversight hearing on the environmental impacts of Gordon’s net-zero and “carbon-negative” policies.
“It’s an issue that is very serious and needs to have a solid debate,” Driskill said. “It needs a good, honest debate on the policy.”
Around the same time that day, Driskill and House Speaker Rep. Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale, will host a forest health briefing with input from members of the U.S. Forest Service, BLM and Wyoming State Forester.
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.
Wyoming High School Basketball 2A State Tournaments 2024
The Tongue River boys and girls will represent Sheridan County when March Madness starts on Leap Year Day.
Thursday, February 29th: (All games played at Casper College)
(#2E) Tongue River vs. (#3W) Big Piney – Noon
(#1W) Wyoming Indian vs. (#4E) Pine Bluffs or Lusk – 1:30pm
(#2W) Greybull vs. (#3E) Pine Bluffs or Lusk – 7:30pm
(#1E) Wright vs. (#4W) Kemmerer – 9pm
Friday, March 1st: (All games played at Ford Wyoming Center)
Tongue River/Big Piney loser vs. Wyoming Indian/TBA loser – Noon LOSER OUT!
Greybull/TBA loser vs. Wright/Kemmerer loser – 1:30pm LOSER OUT!
Tongue River/Big Piney winner vs. Wyoming Indian/TBA winner – 7:30pm
Greybull/TBA winner vs. Wright/Kemmerer winner – 9pm
Saturday, March 2nd:
Friday noon winner vs. Friday 1:30pm winner – Noon at Ford Wyoming Center Consolation Championship
Friday 7:30pm loser vs. Friday 9pm loser – 3pm at Casper College 3rd Place
Friday 7:30pm winner vs. Friday 9pm winner – 8pm at Ford Wyoming Center State Championship
Thursday, February 29th: (All games played at Casper College)
(#2W) Kemmerer vs. (#3E) Pine Bluffs – 9am
(#1E) Tongue River vs. (#4W) Rocky Mountain – 10:30am
(#2E) Lingle-Ft. Laramie vs. (#3W) Wind River – 4:30pm
(#1W) Wyoming Indian vs. (#4E) Burns – 6pm
Friday, March 1st: (All games played at Ford Wyoming Center)
Kemmerer/Pine Bluffs loser vs. Tongue River/Rocky Mountain loser – 9am LOSER OUT!
Lingle-Ft. Laramie/Wind River loser vs. Wyoming Indian/Burns loser – 10:30am LOSER OUT!
Kemmerer/Pine Bluffs winner vs. Tongue River/Rocky Mountain winner – 4:30pm
Lingle-Ft. Laramie/Wind River winner vs. Wyoming Indian/Burns winner – 6pm
Saturday March 2nd:
Friday 9am winner vs. Friday 10:30am winner – 9am at Ford Wyoming Center Consolation Championship
Friday 4:30pm loser vs. Friday 6pm loser – 10:30am at Ford Wyoming Center 3rd Place
Friday 4:30pm winner vs. Friday 6pm winner – 6:30pm at Ford Wyoming Center Championship
How A Wyoming Couple Resurrected The Legendary Brooks Lake Lodge
When Barbara and her husband the late Richard Carlsberg bought Brooks Lake lodge in 1987, its entryway and lobby were still propped up on jacks from an abandoned 1983-84 restoration.
To get to the lodge in the first place, the couple had to first break their own trail through fresh powder on a 5-mile road that has a 1,000-foot increase in elevation.
The road typically gets 5 to 6 feet of snowpack in a given winter season, which made their October trip to see the lodge a rough go, Barbara told Cowboy State Daily, But it’s one that she still remembers as if it were yesterday, even though she no longer owns the lodge. She sold it in 2000 to Max Chapman, who’s owned it for the last 24 years as it’s continued to grow a reputation as a truly one-of-a-kind Wyoming experience.
“Dr. Hoppe, the Minnesota dentist we purchased the lodge from, must have just run out of money,” Barbara said. “That’s the only thing we could figure out.”
When Barbara and her husband toured it, the lodge itself was just a shell of what it had once been. The only thing Hoppe had completed was the bar and a restroom connecting to the bar.
The lodge was just one step away from complete ruin, Carlsberg said, with its entry way floating on jacks and other structural issues. Roofs on some of the cabins, meanwhile, had already given way to time and the elements.
But at least the Carlsberg’s knew next to nothing about running a lodge of this nature.
Despite all those challenges, the couple bought the lodge anyway.
They saw beyond the run-down and neglected property. Because along with that was a shining gemstone of a lake in the backyard set in a ring of mountains — the same lake that had once caught the eye of its namesake, Bryant B. Brooks, Wyoming’s seventh governor.
It was love at first sight, Barbara told Cowboy State Daily.
“We were smitten,” she said. “Absolutely.”
After The Honeymoon, The Real Work Begins
The lodge took an entire year of sweat equity — and millions of dollars — to get to anything like a functional state so it could open again.
“We had to put rooms and bathrooms in — everything,” she said. “It had been gutted.”
The couple did find some serviceable lodgepole pine furniture, built by hand once upon a time, but they had to buy all new beds for the cabins, as well as many other furnishings.
Barbara found a Wyoming artisan to craft new light fixtures for the lodge using discarded pipes.
“We had to build up staff housing, too,” she said. “Because that was kind of nonexistent. So, we probably ended up with as much staff as we had guests that first season.”
They opened for winter 1988, Carlsberg recalled, and then faced a steep learning curve after that.
It took about five years for the lodge to break even, but the couple never stopped working to return the lodge to its former glory. They just kept adding something to it every year, restoring one or another lost piece of history.
Eventually, they even found one of the Yellowstone busses that used to take guests from Lander to Brooks Lake Lodge and then on to Yellowstone National Park, Carlsberg said.
“That took us three years to restore,” she said. “And it was a labor of love, too.”
One of the things that surprised the Carlsbergs once they got Brooks Lake Lodge open is just how much the lodge seems to mean to the rest of Wyoming.
“People were so grateful that we had brought the lodge back into existence,” Barbara said. “We didn’t find out until after we bought it that it was much-loved by Wyoming people.”
In fact, when the couple held a grand reopening ceremony, they planned a big reception not knowing at all what to expect. It attracted dignitaries from across the Cowboy State, including then-Gov. Mike Sullivan.
“He came up and did some speeches and it was a big party,” Barbara recalled.
Barbara added that she also believes, as was expressed in a previous Cowboy State Daily article about the lodge’s history, that the lodge is not something that people buy because they want to make a lot of money.
It’s just a special piece of history, and its owners are stewards of that. They restored that stewardship, which has been carried on and expanded under Chapman’s watch.
“You want it to break even, you want it to pay for itself,” she said. “And we realized at the time that we probably could get it to that, but as far as making any large profits out of it, we knew that wasn’t going to happen.
“The benefit of it is just owning that gorgeous place and having a staff,” she added. “I do miss the staff — and all the snowmobiling.”
Figuring It All Out
Just after the Carlsbergs bought Brooks Lake Lodge in summer 1988, a third of Yellowstone National Park was wiped out by a devastating wildfire.
“That’s how I can remember all these dates so well,” she said.
Richard was one of the guides who led people on trails in the Shoshone National Forest and Bridger Teton Forest that are accessible from Brooks Lake Lodge year-round.
“He really challenged people on those rides,” she said. “People got to do things they never thought they could ever do. And it was just a wonderful time in our lives.”
Barbara, meanwhile, focused on running the lodge. One of the decisions she made was to open the lodge to the public for lunches — an idea she drew from the couple’s many trips to Europe over the years.
“My husband loved to hunt, and he’d been hunting in Spain,” Barbara recalled. “And, believe it or not, we stayed with our hosts in their home. So we just thought, you know, what a lovely way to entertain, and so that is how we entertained at the lodge.”
The public lunch became something of a command appearance for the snowmobiling public, with as many as 150 people coming to it on any given day.
“We couldn’t believe how popular it was,” Barbara said.
Even The KGB Loved It
Wranglers and other workers came from all over the world to work at Brooks Lake Lodge, Barbara recalled, and so did guests.
The most unusual guest Barbara recalled was the time the head of the former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s KGB came to Brooks Lake Lodge.
“We had some attorneys from the Los Angeles area, which was where we were from, who were trying to work with the Russians on the rule of law,” Barbara said. “And they had become friends with this man, and I kept thinking, the head of the KGB!? But guess what, he ended up at Brooks Lake Lodge.”
That was a week when all sorts of interesting people showed up wanting rooms at the same time, Barbara said — some of whom she concluded must have been bodyguards for the KGB director.
Regardless of how strange it all seemed at the time, hospitality at Brooks Lake Lodge is nonpolitical, then as now.
“We gave him a cowboy hat and we had campfires and did singalongs with him,” Barbara said. “You know, we gave him the whole Western story and he loved it.”
Barbara has many other precious memories of the lodge from the dozen years the couple owned it, including the lodge hosting her own daughter’s wedding.
“I probably never would have sold it if my husband hadn’t died,” she said. “But I didn’t want that to just be my whole life, and it would have had to have been.”
Today, Barbara lives on a ranch in nearby Moran, but she remains smitten by the beauty of Brooks Lake Lodge, and she’ll never forget the memories made with her husband in a place ringed by mountains, set with a beautiful gemstone of a lake in the backyard.
Renée Jean can be reached at Renee@CowboyStateDaily.com.
How to watch Wyoming Cowboys vs. Boise State Broncos: TV channel, NCAA Basketball live stream info, start time
Boise State Broncos @ Wyoming Cowboys
Current Records: Boise State 18-8, Wyoming 13-13
How To Watch
- When: Saturday, February 24, 2024 at 7:30 p.m. ET
- Where: Arena-Auditorium — Laramie, Wyoming
- Follow: CBS Sports App
- Online streaming: fuboTV (Try for free. Regional restrictions may apply.)
What to Know
Boise State has enjoyed a two-game homestand but will soon have to dust off their road jerseys. They and the Wyoming Cowboys will face off in a Mountain West battle at 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday at Arena-Auditorium. Wyoming took a loss in their last matchup and will be looking to turn the tables on Boise State, who comes in off a win.
Boise State put the finishing touches on their eighth blowout victory of the season on Tuesday. They steamrolled past the Spartans 82-50 at home. With that win, Boise State brought their scoring average up to 75.2 points per game.
Among those leading the charge was Tyson Degenhart, who scored 15 points along with eight rebounds and two steals. Another player making a difference was Max Rice, who scored 14 points.
Meanwhile, it’s hard to win when you don’t work as a unit and post ten fewer assists than your opponent, a fact Wyoming found out the hard way on Tuesday. They received a tough blow as they fell 76-58 to the Wolf Pack.
Despite the defeat, Wyoming had strong showings from Cam Manyawu, who dropped a double-double on 12 points and 12 rebounds, and Brendan Wenzel, who scored 17 points. Manyawu didn’t help Wyoming’s cause all that much against the Spartans on Saturday but the same can’t be said for this game. Less helpful for Wyoming was Akuel Kot’s abysmal 0-5 three-point shooting.
The Broncos pushed their record up to 18-8 with that win, which was their third straight at home. They’ve been dominating during the games in that stretch too, as they’ve won by an average of 31.3 points. As for the Cowboys, they have been struggling recently as they’ve lost four of their last five matches, which put a noticeable dent in their 13-13 record this season.
Boise State beat the Cowboys 75-63 when the teams last played back in February of 2023. The rematch might be a little tougher for Boise State since the squad won’t have the home-court advantage this time around. We’ll see if the change in venue makes a difference.
Boise State has won 9 out of their last 10 games against Wyoming.
- Feb 11, 2023 – Boise State 75 vs. Wyoming 63
- Jan 14, 2023 – Boise State 85 vs. Wyoming 68
- Mar 11, 2022 – Boise State 68 vs. Wyoming 61
- Feb 03, 2022 – Wyoming 72 vs. Boise State 65
- Jan 25, 2022 – Boise State 65 vs. Wyoming 62
- Jan 13, 2021 – Boise State 90 vs. Wyoming 70
- Jan 11, 2021 – Boise State 83 vs. Wyoming 60
- Feb 04, 2020 – Boise State 67 vs. Wyoming 62
- Jan 01, 2020 – Boise State 65 vs. Wyoming 54
- Jan 26, 2019 – Boise State 77 vs. Wyoming 52
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