Wyoming Legislature report – Feb. 10, 2015
by Albert Sommers, House District #20 Representative
February 11, 2015
Hello Sublette County, this is Albert Sommers reporting from the Capital on Tuesday, February 10th. Today, we had a lively debate over HB144, which would implement the Safe2Tell tip line program in Wyoming. Colorado successfully implemented this program after the Columbine school tragedy, and the program is designed to prevent all kinds of school violence, whether it be against another student or self-inflicted. Several legislators are worried this would be a top down approach, but the idea is to place the call center at statewide level, then assist local efforts to help students. The bill passed, but the vote was 31-29. I hope the Senate approves this effort. Another close vote was on HB162, which would create a provider’s order for life sustaining treatment. This would provide a means by which an individual could set down what kind of medical treatment he would like or not like if he were in life threatening situation. I believe people should be allowed to make those choices in advance. I did vote for the bill, but I am not sure this was the right vehicle. Both of these bills passed the House today. HB222 would have given a sibling standing in court to have visitation rights to see another sibling after a divorce. This bill seemed like a good idea, but there was concern that this could place even more strain on children in a divorce. I voted against the bill, but would like to see the concept come back in another form.
We spent the afternoon listening to the supplemental budget presentation by the Appropriations Committee, and during this presentation we were told that this was the smallest general fund Supplemental Budget in two decades. Starting next Tuesday, we will begin the Budget Amendment process.
Cheyenne on Monday evening, Feb. 9th: Today on third reading HB163, which extends the critical access hospital endowment challenge program, was amended to include newly created hospitals and Rural Health Care Districts, and the bill passed the House. This program could potentially help Sublette County if it chooses to create a hospital. HB174 passed third reading, and would require businesses who sell certain types of nicotine products to install child safety caps on their merchandise. HB224 passed the House, and this bill provides greater fines for individuals who set a fire during a burn ban. The bill exempts land owners who set a fire on their own land, if the fire does not escape their property.
On Committee of the Whole we passed a bill which creates a landfill remediation priority list, a bill which clearly delineates how ballot initiatives and referendums will be handled, and a bill further defining certain controlled substances. We also heard a bill, SF13, which would authorize a firing squad as a secondary method of capital punishment, if the drug used in lethal injection were to be discontinued. Currently, Wyoming’s only other recourse is to build a gas chamber, which was discontinued years ago. I voted against this bill today, but may change my mind in the end. I voted against a bill last year that would have eliminated the death penalty, because I suspect my constituents support it. However, I struggle with the use of capital punishment, because it costs the state more than incarceration and I wonder if it is humane, regardless of the crime. However, Wyoming has capital punishment, and so we must provide alternatives for execution in case we lose the lethal injection option. If you have comments or questions regarding these or any other bills, please let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.