Greetings WAC Community,
The song of the ruthless is stilled. – Isaiah 25:5
Halleluiah! We have much to celebrate from the Wyoming State Legislature:
HB 76 American Indian Education Program passed Committee of the Whole in the House with little opposition. The House defeated proposed amendments attempting to remove the requirement for a voice from the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho in the decision-making process. Allen, the bill’s sponsor said and many others agreed, “It’s important that they tell their own stories.” It passed Second Reading and will be up for Third Reading on Monday. It’s not too late to let your representative in the House know that you support our children learning about the culture, history and contributions of Native Americans in our schools.
HJ 08 Federal Responsibility for American Indian Health Care passed the House Labor, Health and Social Services Committee 9 to 0. This proposed joint resolution asks the U.S. Congress and the President that Medicaid administered by the State continue with 100% federal coverage since nearly half of the costs for providing care on the Wind River Reservation comes from Medicaid. The 100% coverage saved the state $4.7 million in FY 2016 by not requiring a 50% state match that is required for health care for facilities off the Wind River Reservation. Health care for American Indians is required by treaties and Supreme Court decisions and providing Medicaid has been one way Congress is meeting that federal trust responsibility. Proposed block grants for Medicaid greatly concern the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone Tribes as to whether they will get funding needed for facilities serving the American Indian people in Wyoming. Let you representative in the House know that you support it. HJ 08 is listed on General File to be heard Monday or early next week in House Committee of the Whole.
Continuation of the Select Committee on Tribal Relations. The Management Council voted unanimously to continue this committee. There had been rumors earlier that it might be dissolved. It has been an important way for the people of the Wind River Reservation to have their voices heard by the Wyoming State Legislature and could become even more so in the future. (There is, however, concern that the supplemental budget that comes out of the Joint Appropriations Committee will propose reducing by one-half the amount for the two tribal liaison positions for the Governor’s office, another tool for maintaining communications between the state and the two tribes.)
The very divisive HB 135 that pitted “religious freedom” against providing services to people lawfully married and based on their sexual orientation and gender identity was withdrawn by the bill’s sponsors. Supporters of HB 135 view religious freedom as meaning that those who believe that marriage should only be between a man and woman should be able to legally discriminate against same sex couples and deny them their legal rights as well against people whose birth certificates and gender identify don’t match.
A reader of last Sunday’s message informed me that I am not a Christian because of my stating the Wyoming Association of Churches’ positions that religious freedom should not be used to discriminate against others. Like freedom of speech may be limited, freedom of religion can also be limited when the outcome is to harm others and to deny others of their legal rights. I believe being a Christian is to show love to others, even our enemies, not to hurt them.
HB 240 to repeal Wyoming’s death penalty and SF 153 on Employment Nondiscrimination have been filed and referred to committees, but not scheduled yet for hearing. To move forward, bills require committee approval by on February 2nd. Not meeting that deadline would mean the bills are dead. WAC supports both of these bills.
Three weeks down and five to go!
Fear not. Be bold. Do justice.
P.S. The Wyoming Association of Churches appreciates your many financial gifts for our justice work in Wyoming for the oppressed. Click here Or you may mail checks to PO Box 1473, Laramie, WY 82073.
Dates to Remember:
Crow Pipe Ceremony, June 16, Heart Mountain, near Cody
Ecumenical Advocacy Days in DC, April 21-24