Greetings WAC Community,
God be merciful to us and bless us; look on us with kindness so that the whole world may know your will, so that all nations may know your salvation. – Psalms 67:1-2
First, Happy Valentine’s Day! Instead of saying, “Be my Valentine,” say “I am your Valentine,” as I heard one of the saints for whom this day honors did, by signing a note, “I am your Valentine.” In other words, don’t ask to be loved, but to love another.
What a week this past week was!
February 7-10: 39 Native Americans from the Wind River Reservation came to Cheyenne for Native Advocacy Days to learn more about and observe the state legislative process and to make their voices heard. They met with Governor Mead, attended two receptions and became engaged in the governmental process. 2016 Native Advocacy Days was made possible through a grant from the Foundation of the Episcopal Diocese of Wyoming. Thanks to the First United Methodist Church in Cheyenne for lunch on Wednesday and to the Wind River Casino for dinner on Tuesday night following the Northern Arapaho legislator reception.
February 8: An estimated 150 attended a rally to show support of Medicaid expansion in Wyoming at the Highlands Presbyterian Church in Cheyenne. Governor Mead, Rev. Dee Lundberg, Rev. Rodger McDaniel, Dr. Jean Halpern, Bri Jones with the Equality State Policy Center and Jason Baldes and 15-year-old Wolfstar Duran with the Wind River Native Advocacy Center were among those who spoke. There was great media coverage in theCheyenne Tribune-Eagle and the Casper Star Tribune. See the list of organizations below that support Medicaid expansion now having increased considerably in the last few years.
February 11: Two bills that the Wyoming Association of Churches supported failed to get the required 2/3 vote for introduction:
HB 109 – Sentencing enhancement for crimes motivated by bias, a modification of past efforts for hate crimes legislation. We had 550 petition signatures in support. Unfortunately, we had little lead time between when the bill was filed and available for viewing until it was considered.
HB 115 – Repeal of Wyoming’s death penalty. This was the same bill as was introduced in 2015 and can be expected to come back in 2017. It appears to be gradually gaining support in Wyoming as people learn the flaws of the death penalty.
February 12: HB 47 on refugee resettlement plan for Wyoming was heard before the House Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee. I testified on behalf of the Wyoming Association Churches letting them know of WAC’s support for developing a plan that would provide the safeguards and support while being welcoming to a small number of refugees coming to Wyoming.
Needed: more vocal support of Medicaid expansion. Don’t give up. Don’t be the silent majority who do support Medicaid expansion in Wyoming. This year is our best chance to date because of the budget shortfall. It’s right for Wyoming.
This week contact your State Senators (see the email list below) and ask that they amend the budget bill to put Medicaid expansion back into the budget that the Joint Appropriations Committee removed from the Governor’s budget. Oppose Senator Scott’s proposed SF 86 which is has been tried before and didn’t work.
Main talking points for Medicaid expansion:
Would cover 20,000 of our neighbors now without the benefit of Medicaid or the Affordable Care Act.
Would allow acceptance of federal funds to avoid drastic cuts in education, social programs and infrastructure for our towns and cities.
Would support struggling community hospitals by covering uncompensated care rather than by our local tax dollars and higher health care costs for those who are insured.
31 states have adopted it, including Utah, Montana and Colorado.
Medicaid expansion has lots of supporters. Alphabetically, they are:
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network
American Heart Association
Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen
Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employee’s Division
Casper Chamber of Commerce
Cheyenne Chamber of Commerce
Consumer Advocates for Project Healthcare
Equality State Policy Center
Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce
League of Women Voters – Wyoming
The Nature Conservancy
Sierra Club Chapter of Wyoming
United Steelworkers Local 13214
Wind River Native Advocacy Center
Wyoming Association of Churches
Wyoming Association of Municipalities
Wyoming Business Alliance
Wyoming Business Coalition on Health
Wyoming County Commissioners Association
Wyoming Education Association
Wyoming Hospital Association
Wyoming Lodging and Retail Association
Wyoming Medical Society
Wyoming Multiple Sclerosis Association
Wyoming Nurses Association
Wyoming Primary Care Association
Wyoming Psychological Association
Wyoming Public Employees Association
Wyoming State Chambers of Commerce
Wyoming State Senators’ email addresses: (Don’t delay, contact today!)
Questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Cell phone: 307-761-0755
For more information about Medicaid expansion, go to www.healthywyoming.org. You may also sign onto a petition at that site. Healthy Wyoming is the coalition that the Wyoming Association of Churches is working with to advocate for Medicaid expansion.
If you are not sure who your state representative and senator are or how to contact them, go to http://legisweb.state.wy.us/LSOWEB/LegInfo.aspx and find out.
Fear not. Be bold. Do justice.