Tribes now eligible for Wyoming Business Council programs, as intended

The legislature passed a bill this year clarifying that Tribal governments are eligible for economic development programs through the Wyoming Business Council.

There has been some “confusion” about Tribal eligibility in WBC programs, Wyoming Sen. Affie Ellis, R-Cheyenne, said, since state law currently requires “cooperative agreements” to be in place before Tribal governments can apply for WBC funding.

Wyoming Rep. Lloyd Larsen, R-Lander, said the extra requirement puts an unnecessary “burden” on Tribal governments applying for economic development programs – and it may have negatively impacted Tribal access to WBC funding.

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“Historically, from time to time, the WBC has (approved funding for) Tribal entities, and recently … that has not happened,” Larsen said. “That’s been because (of) cooperative agreements. …

“The WBC says, ‘We don’t have this blanket cooperative agreement, thus the tribes (are) not allowed to participate in this program.’”

Removing the cooperative agreement requirement will “clean up the roadblock there,” Larsen said.

Wyoming Sen. Ed Cooper, R-Ten Sleep, who represents a portion of Fremont County, said he finds it “rather troubling that we even have to have this discussion.”

“I think it’s time to put this to bed,” Cooper said.

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Wyoming Rep. John Winter, R-Thermopolis, was the only local legislator to vote against House Bill 9, which was signed into law March 7.

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