Wyoming Legislature update
by HD20 Representative Albert Sommers
March 6, 2014
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Hello Sublette County this is Albert Sommers reporting to you from Cheyenne on Tuesday evening. Today Pinedale Mayor Steve Smith was at the session with Pinedale High School Junior Council members Tanner Trujillo, Savannah Mitchell, Fallon Ramsey, and Shayla Wright. Governor Mead signed HB3 today, the Alternative Schools bill, and the Pinedale students got to participate in the bill signing. SF31 passed the House on final reading today, and this bill creates a 24/7 Sobriety Program. The program is designed to reduce the number of repeat crimes that are related to substance abuse by monitoring an offender’s sobriety through intensive alcohol and drug testing and immediate and appropriate enforcement. This is codifying a program that was already being utilized in some counties of the state. Also passing on final reading today was SF115, Warrantless searches – repealed, which repealed the Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s authority to search a camp, pack, or backpack without probable cause. I supported this bill, because I believe all searches of private property should occur through due process, but I also worry that it will harm a game warden’s ability to perform his duties out in the sticks. Time will tell if this was a mistake, but the bill cleared by a large vote. We have one more day of hearing Senate Files, and then a few Conference Committee reports and concurrences with the Senate. Goodnight for now.
Monday, March 3, 2014
Hello Sublette County, this is Albert Sommers reporting to you from the Capitol on Monday evening. The biggest news out of the legislature today was not what passed or failed, but what was laid back and not heard in Committee of the Whole. SF106 the bill that would have set the stage for a special session to deal with the Wyoming Supreme Court decision on the Superintendent of Public Instruction died without being heard. The discussion around this issue and a special session would have been a bloody battle on the floor, and was not worth the bad feelings it could have generated. Until the district court renders a final decision, based upon the Supreme Court’s decision, the legislature will not know what hoops to jump through anyway. Some are hoping the district court will sever the issue, and provide direction to the legislature on how to bring SF104 into constitutional compliance. I provided my solution in the last update, but this issue will linger for some time to come. HB86, the fix for the Sublette County Rural Health Care District passed the Senate today, and will be headed for the governor’s desk. The governor will sign into law the Alternative School bill tomorrow, and I will try to attend the signing. We also passed SF97 today in Committee of the Whole, which is a process by which the state can provide large scale economic development loans to businesses in the state which provide a significant job base. This process has many checks and balances to protect the state’s money. Economic diversification is important to the state of Wyoming, and we need to support efforts that are well vetted and benefit the state. Good night for now.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Hello Sublette County, this is Albert Sommers reporting to you from Cheyenne on Sunday. On Friday, as I reported, the Wyoming Supreme Court refused to rehear its decision on the constitutionality of SF104, and reaffirmed that the legislation from last year to strip the duties of the Superintendent of Public Instruction was unconstitutional. In its ruling the Court clearly stated: "Efforts should be made to achieve constitutional compliance as quickly as possible." This seems like clear direction from Wyoming’s highest court that the legislature most move "as quickly as possible" to rectify the problems we created, and return the duties back to the office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Yet I continue to hear around the Capitol, that we just need to tweak SF104 and bring the legislation into constitutional compliance. I believe this is the wrong approach, and that we need to restore the duties of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, as they were defined prior to SF104. If the legislature believes that the duties of Superintendent should be vastly reduced and a director appointed to assume those duties, then we need to bring a constitutional amendment to the voters of the state of Wyoming, which will allow the citizens to make this decision. We need to restore the duties of Superintendent, sothe candidates for this office know what they are running for. We need to have a constitutional amendment on the ballot, this next election, which will give the voters a clear choice between a Superintendent with historic powers and a Superintendent whose powers are prescribed only by law. The legislature needs to let the voters of Wyoming settle this constitutional debate, and move on with educating the children of Wyoming. To get this accomplished, we should stay in session until we resolve these issues, not call another special session.