Senate File 8 Passes Final Votes – What’s Next?
Good news — Senate File 8, the Bicycle and Pedestrian System Task Force bill, passed third and final reading in the Wyoming House today by a vote of 38-22. Having already passed the Senate by a similarly strong margin, the bill went back to the Senate for a “concurrence” vote, the process by which the Senate approves minor amendments made in the House of Representatives. After passing that vote this afternoon by 20-9-1, the bill moves on to the Governor to be signed into law.
Congratulations and thanks to so many of you that took time to comment on the bill. Your voice made a difference in getting Senate File 8 to this point. We ask that you thank your House and Senator representatives that supported the bill, a link to the summary of the recorded votes is here, where you can see how your member voted. Its also fair game to politely question those that did not support this bill. Wyoming Pathways will be providing an easy way to send an email to your legislators in the coming days.
Senate File 8 survived a last minute attack by Rep. Allen Jaggi, R-Uinta, who unfortunately filed an amendment to kill the bill. Many House members, including House TRW Chair Ruth Ann Petroff, stood in support of the need for the Task Force the bill creates to help our communities share information and improve biking and walking opportunities around Wyoming.
Senate File 8 comes through the process with only minor changes made that strengthened the bill. The Senate added several amendments – a clarification that the study is to look at opportunities along public roads, public rights of way, and public park lands, not private property, and also added two additional seats, one for the agricultural industry, and one for the trucking industry. The House made additional changes to the bill, primarily to clarify some ambiguous language, to make the task force to be more inclusive and to make the work of the Task Force available to the public (see the current bill). These amendments should help improve the Task Force and the final report to be produced.
Purpose of the Bicycle Pedestrian System Task Force:
The Task Force will be charged with developing a report to help local communities and state agencies, including WYDOT, State Parks, Health, Tourism, and the Business Council, to all better understand the opportunities and challenges of bicycle and pedestrian pathways and natural surface trails.
The Task Force will consider the economic benefits of bicycle and pedestrian pathways and natural surface trails through enhanced tourism opportunities, and the report will study health benefits to Wyoming residents of having access to close to home pathways, and ways in which these benefits can best be attained.
Safety is an important element of the issues to be addressed as well. A tragic number of bicycle and pedestrian fatalities have occurred around Wyoming in recent years, and the Task Force will analyze the crash records and study public safety needs and programs that could help reduce fatalities and serious injuries.
The bill calls for the Task Force to identify and evaluate options to fund the construction and maintenance of pathways and natural surface trails, including private and nonprofit sources along with local, state, and federal sources. The Task Force will also review possible fees to use state trails.
No new funding is attached to the bill. Members of the public on the Task Force would pay their own expenses, and government staff would pay through existing agency budgets. The key agencies impacted have testified that they would be able to provide the staff called for in the bill, that it would not be an undue burden, and they said the use of web and phone conferencing would help cut down on cost. State agencies agreed there would be significant benefits to Wyoming from the proposed Task Force and reports that would be developed.
Wyoming Pathways strongly supports the bill. Nearly every large community in Wyoming, and many small and mid-sized towns, are actively developing pathways and natural surface trails. There is also greatly increased interest in developing walkable downtowns. Residents, communities, and local and state government will all benefit from having this Governor-appointed task force to study and report on Bicycle and Pedestrian Pathways and natural surface trails.