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Last Week of the Wyoming Legislature: A Time Such as This

Greetings WAC Community,

Jesus told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop.  He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’  Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do.  I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years.  Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”‘ But God said to him, ‘You fool!  This very night your life will be demanded from you.  Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?  This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.” – Luke 12:16-21

The certain rich man is the State of Wyoming.  During the boom days of mining the ground, the riches were stored up.  Now the boom days are in decline and instead of using what has been stored up for times such as this, the legislators instead cut resources to its suffering people.  How bad the cuts and harm are yet not analyzed in detail, but I know it is extensive.  Except for some damage control following the attack against the poor and most vulnerable, little can now be done.

Reported in this week’s Wind River News, Sen. Eli Bebout from Riverton is quoted saying about Medicaid expansion, “The toughest part of it is there is really a need for some people out there to have it, but we have to do it the right way.  It’s just not the time to go into a program that is going to cost.  We already have a heck of a time paying for what’s going on in government now.”

But Medicaid expansion of course would not cost the State of Wyoming anything and would actually bring in millions of dollars that could have prevented some of the harmful cuts made.  Delaying access again to Wyoming’s low income people “to do it the right way,” whatever that means to the opponents of Medicaid expansion, is in the meantime literally costing people their lives because they lack access to health care, except emergency room care at community hospitals compensated from higher health insurance premiums and costs and tax dollars while hospitals risk having to close their doors.  “To do it the right way” would have been to have approved Medicaid expansion as 31 other states have done and are better off for it.  Wyoming residents’ federal income taxes are going to pay for the Medicaid expansion but without us getting the benefit.

An inspiration last week was Echo Klaproth as the guest speaker at the Governor’s Prayer Breakfast.  She is a rancher, pastor and poet from Shoshoni.  She based her speech on the Book of Esther with Mordecai’s plea to Esther, “And who knows but that you have come to royal position, for such a time as this.” (Esther 4:14)  I would ask legislators to look at their positions of power and ask that they not continue to hoard the stored up riches and refuse resources from the federal government to the detriment of Wyoming’s people, but to accept responsibility for what they could do at such a time as this.

Updates:

  1. SF 86, Sen. Scott’s proposal for a $20,000 study for providing medical care for those unable to afford it,  is on general file in the House.  Monday is the deadline for Committee of the Whole (COW) consideration.  Several amendments are being filed.  Please still urge a “no” vote in the House of Representatives.  If they still want to explore options, nothing prevents their doing that during the interim.  But they should not prevent the option of Medicaid expansion still being on the table, which this bill would do.  To pass, it would still need to be passed in COW, 2nd Reading and 3rd Reading.

  2. HB 47 on a Refugee Resettlement Plan, requiring legislative approval should the Governor propose a plan, passed the House this past week, but was not referred to a Senate Committee.  So that bill is dead.  WAC took no position on the bill, but was watching it and concerns were raised to me about the legality and purpose of the bill.

Fear not.  Be bold.  Do justice.

Blessings,

Chesie

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