Lawmakers form committee to protect miners, Wyo. in bankruptcies

Legislative leadership voted Thursday to create a special committee of lawmakers to try and stem losses from future coal company bankruptcies for both miners and the state.

Priorities for the new committee include securing taxes owed to Wyoming counties, getting the Wyoming attorney general’s office to assist county officials in bankruptcy court and trying to stop companies from ditching their obligations to workers as they reshape and escape debt. This last objective could be a challenge given federal bankruptcy laws’ design to protect capital, not workers, a UW law professor said.

Coal bankruptcies have wreaked havoc on both Wyoming workers and state coffers this summer. Laws passed in the 2020 session won’t shape those ongoing bankruptcies, lawmakers said, but the state could strengthen its position for the future. Some lawmakers also suggested they’re preparing for oil and gas company bankruptcies as well, a dire suggestion for Wyoming’s energy-based economy and government.