CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Mar. 28, 2016) – Wyoming’s Republican state House and Senate leadership soundly protected the status quo by killing six bills that would have blocked the federal enforcement of unconstitutional policies.
A rundown of key legislation that failed in Wyoming this year follows:
Rep. David Miller (R-Riverton) introduced House Bill 124 (HB124) on Feb. 5 with eight co-sponsors to transition back into sound money. It would have sanctioned a state bullion depository to allow people to deposit and trade in gold and silver bullion rather than Federal Reserve paper notes.
However, the legislation never saw the light of day. After HB124 was introduced, it was not even considered for an introduction vote. This means that it did not receive a committee assignment, or even any basic debate or discussion. This occurred at the behest of House Speaker Kermit Brown (R-Laramie) and House Floor Leader Rosie Berger (R-Big Horn).
Rep. James Byrd (R-Cheyenne) introduced House Bill 7 (HB7) with two bipartisan co-sponsors on Feb. 5 to create a system of reciprocity for out-of-state medical marijuana card holders. Rep. Byrd also introduced House Bill 3 (HB3) to decriminalize simple marijuana possession. Unfortunately, these bills were killed during their introductory votes in the House. HB3 failed by a 20-39 margin while HB7 failed by a 21-37 margin, effectively squashing the hope for meaningful drug policy reform until next year.
Rep. Tom Reeder (R-Casper) introduced House Bill 22 (HB22) on Feb. 9 alongside 11 co-sponsors. The bill would have prohibited state cooperation with some contentious federal refugee resettlement programs. It would have specifically required “the governor or any designee of the governor [to] rescind all refugee resettlement plans or agreements submitted to the office of refugee resettlement within the United States department of health and human services.”
The bill had some initial success. It passed the House on Feb. 23 with a 51-9 vote. However, the tide changed quickly after the Senate refused to even consider HB22 for an introduction vote. This means that the bill did not receive a committee assignment, or even any basic debate or discussion. This occurred at the behest of Senate Speaker Phil Nicholas (R-Laramie) and Senate Floor Leader Eli Bebout (R-Fremont).
Introduced by Rep. Scott Clem (R-Gillette) on Feb. 10 with nine co-sponsors, House Joint Resolution 5 (HJ5) would have placed a measure on the ballot for the next general election to amend the state constitution to authorize the state to prohibit the use of state personnel and financial resources to enforce, administer or cooperate with any federal action not consistent with the constitution of the United States.
Although the bill was introduced and referred to the House Minerals Committee by a 41-15 vote, HJ5 did not proceed any further. In accordance with House Rule 5-4, the legislation was voted down by the following legislators: Rep. Richard Cannady (R-Glenrock), Rep. James Byrd (D-Cheyenne), Rep. Lloyd Larsen (R-Lander), Rep. Thomas Lockhart (R-Casper), Rep. Albert Sommers (R-Pinedale), and Rep. Tom Walters (R-Casper).
WOLF AND BEAR HUNTING
Introduced by Select Federal Natural Resource Management Committee, House Bill 18 (HB18) would have denied state-level compliance and material support to enforce federal hunting policies related to gray wolves and grizzly bears. It stated, in part, that ‘No game and fish personnel or Wyoming law enforcement officer shall assist any official, agent oremployee of the United States government in the investigation, arrest or prosecution of any person who takes or causes injury of a gray wolf or grizzly bear in the state, if the animal is a species listed as experimental nonessential population, endangered species or threatened species in the state.”
Unfortunately, HB18 suffered the same fate as other important legislation. Initially, it was introduced and referred to the House Travel Committee by a 40-19 margin but that success did not last. In accordance with House Rule 5-4, the legislation was voted down by the following legislators: Rep. Fred Baldwin (R-Kemmerer), Rep. John Freeman (D-Green River), Rep. Dan Kirkbride (R-Chugwater), Rep. Ruth Petroff (R-Jackson), and Rep. Cheri Steinmetz (R-Lingle).
Although the state of Wyoming has let many chances to push back against federal overreach fall through their grasp this year, hope is not lost. The legislators who refused to uphold their oath to the Constitution and killed these bills are now more vulnerable than ever. Remember to alert your community about who is jeopardizing your rights. From that point, the legislature can be remade with individuals with the backbone to protect your freedoms through nullification.
The process can be a long, hard and ugly one, but it can pay off. Many of the states that are currently passing several nullification bills each year were in Wyoming’s situation not too long ago. However, activists in those states steadfastly refused to give up and successfully pushed their legislators to do the right thing. That is the future that Wyoming can achieve, but it is going to take some determination to get there. Will you join us and help make it happen?