Dear WIN Community:
Here is Chesie Lee's Legislative Update following Week Two of Wyoming Legislative Session.
Thank you, Chesie, for all of your hard work!
What a week in Cheyenne at the Wyoming State Legislature! We are at the half-way point of the 2018 session with two weeks to go. The Legislature is taking a break on Monday and re-convenes on Tuesday.
First the good news!
· Suicide Prevention: Remember in 2017 that the Wyoming State Legislature cut $4 million from prevention resulting in suicide prevention funding being axed. Your outcry was heard. Thanks to Rep. Eric Barlow from Campbell County and chair of the House Labor, Health and Social Services Committee, $2 million for the biennium for suicide prevention was amended to the House Budget bill. But that will only remain in the budget if the conference committee members of the Senate accept it. Let your State Senator know that you like the House amendment to the budget for suicide prevention and how important that is to your community. These funds will be distributed through grants to county commissioners so decisions can be made locally while still requiring best practices and accountability.
· Child Sexual Abuse Education and Prevention: More good news. SF 93 sponsored by Liisa Anselmi-Dalton from Sweetwater County is doing well. Compelling testimony at the Senate Education Committee stressed the importance of this beginning at an early age and for school personnel being able to recognize the signs and knowing how to address the problem. This is expected to pass the Senate on Tuesday.
· Legislator communications on recordings and broadcasts: This bill to allow recordings, archiving and broadcasts of the interim committee meetings sponsored by the Management Council continues to do well and is expected to pass the House on Tuesday.
· Public Lands Day: Mostly good news - SF 67 has passed the Senate, but the name was changed to “Multiple Use of Public Lands Day.” There will be an effort to change it back to “Public Lands Day” in the House.
We continue to watch HB 141 regarding concealed weapons in places of worship. The Wyoming Pastors Network supports it. If enacted, congregational leaders would no longer be required by the state to provide written permission for concealed firearms at places of worship. Either with or without the bill, congregations may adopt their own rules.
Now the bad news!
· Attack on Freedom to Dissent: HB 74 comes up in the Senate for 3rdReading in the Senate early Tuesday morning. If you have not done so yet, contact your State Senator and ask them to vote “no” on SF 74. Bill sponsors have indicated that those who oppose it as either stupid or eco-terrorists. A concern is that the bill sponsors have not actually read the bill. The alleged intent is to increase penalties against trespassing to damage critical infrastructures. But it does not take a Juris Doctorate to read the bill and see that it does so much more.
Thursday, March 1, 9:30 a.m., WIN is co-sponsoring a press conference at the Jonah Building, Room L 51 about our concerns with SF 74. Rev. Rodger McDaniel will be presenting the faith perspective. Please come and support our efforts to stop SF 74 and to protect freedom of speech and assembly!
· Work Requirements for Medicaid: SF 97 is a bad bill procedurally and content-wise. Chairman Sen. Charlie Scott allowed no testimony in committee on this bill that was voted on 5 to 0. Bills require fiscal notes so the legislature can determine the costs, but none is on SF 97. One other state, Kentucky, implementing this is finding administrative costs being hundreds of thousands of dollars and without cost savings. Since Wyoming did not expand Medicaid, this will affect mostly only very poor young mothers of minor children. Medicaid dollars go to the providers, not the patients. A mirror bill failed introduction in the House. This is also up for vote in the Senate early Tuesday morning. Contact your State Senator to request a “no” vote on SF 97.
Wyoming Interfaith Network