Hello, Uinta County! It’s great to be back. Thanks to so many of you for your emails, texts and phone calls. I also appreciated visits from many of you: BVEA board members, Uinta County law enforcement, WAM members including Mark Harris, Evanston City Council and mayor, Mountain View Town Council and mayor, Kathy Luzmoor and nurses from all over Uinta County, Cora Courage and Leadership Wyoming, County Republican chair Karl Allred, Jim Davis with the Wyoming Arts Council, Rev. Jonathan Lange, Dan Mayer and BOCES, Sheryl Foland with Course Corrections, representatives from SAFV and others.
The 65th Legislature had more than 500 bills that were introduced. Some of those did not make the cut and died in committees. Others may have been approved in the House but failed in the Senate, and vice versa. One of the timeliest bills and the first bill signed by Governor Gordon was SJ 03, which was the designation of Wyoming’s Women Suffrage Day, which will occur on Dec. 10.
With this year’s celebration of the 19th Amendment, I was honored to co-sponsor this bill with other women legislators from Wyoming. This bill highlights the fact that Wyoming was the first state to grant women the right to vote and elected the first female governor, judge and the first all-woman jury.
Some of the other noteworthy bills: HB 43 Hathaway Scholarship eligibility, SF 72 Sexual assault biological evidence reporting, SF 80 Passing stopped school bus-recorded images, HB 246 Volunteer pension account-search and rescue, SF 127 Felony fleeing or eluding police, HB 22 Teacher accountability, SF 125 Digital assets-existing law, SF 85 Wyoming Medicaid Fraud Control Act, HB 23 Education accountability, HB 53 Probation and parole incentives, SF 45 Emergency administration of opiate antagonist-revisions, HB 159 Volunteer reserve officers-liability coverage, etc.
Gov. Gordon signed SF 60 Child protection amendments and called this bill the “most important piece of legislation this year.” I sponsored this bill after hearing concerns of one of our local pediatricians, Dr. Bird Gilmartin. It was a team effort with Uinta County Attorney Loretta Howieson-Kallas, our county sheriff and chief of police and others at the state level helping to make it a reality.
I sponsored another bill after hearing concerns from some of our constituents, called the Safe Child Act SF 139, which didn’t pass this year but I will continue to work on it and bring it back next session. I hope if Uinta County residents have issues and concerns that I can help them with, they will reach out and I will do my best to find solutions.
We passed a number of bills that will put Wyoming in the forefront with cryptocurrency and blockchain technology. A new chancery court has been developed to deal with issues that may come about with the new technologies and business concerns.
There were a number of bills that were introduced to improve transparency and improve the public’s access to public records. SF 57 Public records was a joint effort by the Senate Corporations Committee, of which I am a member, and a number of concerned citizens, state agencies, and special districts to streamline the public’s ability to access records in a timely manner.
The new state auditor, Kristi Racines, has just opened all of the state’s books and returned the fees to the interested parties who had previously brought suit against previous auditor Cynthia Cloud.
Some of the innovative bills passed were: SF 111 Community colleges-bachelor of science programs, SF 150 Health care innovation, SF 156 Medical digital innovation, HB 199 Virtual Education agreements, SF 46 Opioid prescription limits, SF 38 Limitation on length of probation, HB 243 Driver’s licenses (sponsored by Rep. Danny Eyre), HB 297 K-3 reading assessment and intervention program, and HB0171 Hemp, cannabidiol and other controlled substance regulation.
There were issues with the supplemental budget and some of the spending did not fall in line with what the idea of a supplemental budget should be — one-time spending and emergency funds, but that’s a topic that will continue to be a concern. Wyoming’s budget is healthy as of now, but we are still too reliant on our severance taxes.
The two tax bills that were introduced, HB 220 the National Retail Fairness Act failed to be acted on in the Senate Corporations committee, and HB 66 Lodging tax failed in the Senate. We do need to look at diversifying our revenue streams, and I believe there will be more innovative ideas for us to consider in the interim.
I had a great working relationship with our House counterparts — Rep. Eyre, Rep. Garry Piiparinen and Rep. Tom Crank. These legislators were absolutely wonderful to work with and were very welcoming and helpful. I look forward to the future working with them and also Sen. Fred Baldwin as we keep moving Uinta County and Wyoming forward. I would also ask that we might keep Rep. Piiparinen in our thoughts as he works his way back to good health.
Thanks for your support!