The Legislative Session Is Underway: What To Watch.

from Chris Merrill Executive Director, Equality State Policy Center
and the Leadership Team at Wyoming Rising.

The second week of the Wyoming State legislative session is underway—I’m writing you from a bench in the hallway just outside the House chamber. 

Lawmakers are right now considering a huge range of proposed new laws meant to deal with elections, insurance regs, hunting rules, taxes, guns, school finances, opioids, abortion, water use, livestock, and much, much more. 

These laws have the potential to affect all of our lives, one way or another. 

More than 230 bills have been introduced so far in the House and Senate combined, and lawmakers are not done—they still have a couple weeks to introduce more.

— Chris Merrill

Some Resources to Help You Engage

 


ESPC and Wyoming Rising Supports

SJ008, (Free and Fair Elections)

This important bill is out of committee and on the general file. We hope to get the first reading on the floor on Monday, January 28.
RIGHT NOW: We need you to contact your state senator to vote YES ON SJ008!

If you are a constituent and/or have a personal relationship with your senator and would like to leave a message for them to call you back about this issue please use the following number: 307-777-7711.
If you are not a constituent and/or do not have a personal relationship with your senator about this issue please use the following number to voice your support (Be brief – YES on SJ008): 866-996-8683.

These numbers are only good 7:30 am – 5:30 pm M-F, so you should email their legislator this weekend if cannot call today. You can find additional phone numbers and email contact information for your Senators at this link: https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislators/2019/S . And again, please be polite and brief.

Here is the link to the language of SJ008: https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/SJ0008

CLICK ON THIS LINK TO A SET OF TALKING POINTS FOR INITIAL DISCUSSIONS. We have more talking points under the resources tab of the Wyoming Promise website, www.wyomingpromise.org/more-information/.

Senate File 18 (campaign finance) 

This is a good bill that ESPC has been working on for quite some time. It would close an important loophole in our current campaign finance law by requiring third parties to report money spent on “electioneering” (advertising meant to sway voters to vote for or against individual candidates).

Senate File 57 (public records) 

ESPC is supporting this bill, WITH ONE IMPORTANT CAVEAT.

This bill has great intentions—it’s meant to improve government transparency.

It would require public employees to be more responsive to public records requests by creating a hard-and-fast deadline for compliance with requests. This would be a good thing.

IMPROVEMENT NEEDED: As currently written, the bill would create a whole new class of felony and a new misdemeanor for public employees who either knowingly or negligently withhold public records from the public.

This language is problematic, in our opinion. It would likely kill the bill if it left as is, and perhaps rightfully so. It is unusually punitive and prescriptive and could come with a host of unintended consequences. We believe this legislation can be improved by leaving sentencing up to the discretion of the court. 

Wyoming Rising Opposes

House Bill No. HB0140 (Abortion-48 hour waiting period)

House Bill No. HB0140 passed out of the Judiciary Committee.  It will now be considered by the full Wyoming House, and voting is expected any day.

This bill would require abortion providers to inform a patient about ultrasound and then wait 48 hours before performing the abortion.  We oppose this bill because:

  • Waiting periods are medically unnecessary.
  • Waiting periods introduce a hurdle to obtaining medical care and intrude on the patient-provider relationship.
  • This bill implies and assumes that women cannot make informed decisions without the imposition of a government-mandated delay.
  • Waiting periods are especially difficult for low-income women, rural women, working women without sick leave, and battered women.
  • This bill singles out abortion care for unwarranted restrictions.
  • SF128 “Unborn victims of violence act” defines “person” to include “unborn child” from the moment of conception and creates new crimes of battery, aggravated battery, first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter, and vehicular homicide — committed against said “unborn child”.  Although a section of the bill excludes abortion, this sweeping imposition of fetal personhood into Wyoming law is extremely troubling:
    • This bill would endow fertilized eggs, fetuses, and embryos with unprecedented legal status.
    • This bill would inject certain religious beliefs (about life beginning at conception) into Wyoming law with far-reaching implications.
    • Wyoming laws already stipulate enhanced penalties for many crimes against a pregnant woman.  Establishing new crimes against a fertilized egg is too extreme.
    • SF128 establishes fetal personhood and provides no benefit to the State and its citizens.

Senate File No. SF 0128 (Unborn victims of violence act) 

Senate File No. SF 0128 will be heard (and voted on) in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, January 30, upon noon recess.  Please try to speak out against this bill.

If you cannot attend the hearing and want to express your opposition to SF128, please e-mail the following Judiciary Committee members:

SF128 “Unborn victims of violence act” defines “person” to include “unborn child” from the moment of conception and creates new crimes of battery, aggravated battery, first-degree murder, second-degree murder, manslaughter, and vehicular homicide — committed against said “unborn child”.  Although a section of the bill excludes abortion, this sweeping imposition of fetal personhood into Wyoming law is extremely troubling:

  • This bill would endow fertilized eggs, fetuses, and embryos with unprecedented legal status.
  • This bill would inject certain religious beliefs (about life beginning at conception) into Wyoming law with far-reaching implications.
  • Wyoming laws already stipulate enhanced penalties for many crimes against a pregnant woman.  Establishing new crimes against a fertilized egg is too extreme.
  • SF128 establishes fetal personhood and provides no benefit to the State and its citizens.

 

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