Wyoming Legislature update – Jan 23, 2015
by Albert Sommers, House District #20 Representative
January 24, 2015
Hello Sublette County, this is Albert Sommers reporting from the Capital on Friday afternoon , at the end of the second week of the session. On Thursday, bills passed the House which created a tax for alternative fuels, defined the Jackalope as the state Mythical Creature, and allowed hunters to hold onto limited quota big game tags when they are unable to use for good cause. House Joint Resolutions 1 and 5 also passed the House on Thursday. HJ1, Regulation Freedom, proposes to amend the US Constitution to authorize Congress to approve or disapprove proposed federal regulations, whenever one quarter of the members of the United States House of Representatives or the United States Senate transmits to the President its written declaration of opposition to a proposed federal regulation. I support this effort, even though I know it is unlikely to succeed, because we need more checks and balances on administrative authority. I also voted in favor of HJ5, which increases the age of retirement for judges in Wyoming from 70 to 75 years of age.
On Friday, HB23, which repeals the budget amendment of last session disallowing the State Board from considering the Next Generation Science Standards, passed Second Reading without amendment. As I have already mentioned, I support this bill because the State Board has substantially improved its standard-setting process over the last year. I am also bringing a bill which will statutorily increase public input into standards. Budget footnotes should not be used to create legislation, because they leave the public out of the process, with no opportunity to comment. Budget footnotes have been overused by both the Appropriations Committee and members of the Legislature in general. I hope this will highlight that problem, and slow this usage down. I voted against HB49, which provides confidentiality to individuals involved in administering the death penalty and companies who produce drugs that are used in the death penalty. I believe that we should have transparency in state government, and if we have to hide those involved in the process of the death penalty, then perhaps we should take a look at the validity of the death penalty. The House passed this bill, but not with my vote. A bill also passed the House which will restore the voting rights of non-violent felons.
Medicaid Expansion will be coming to House, and I have not received much feedback from the medical professionals, administrators, or citizens of Sublette County. I think we need to do something to help support Wyoming’s hospitals and mitigate the $211 million in uncompensated care in the state. We also have a population of the working poor that has been locked away from insurance due to the way Obamacare was crafted. Let me know what you think, though I have not seen a defined bill yet.