Howdy and Happy New Year!
Things are starting to heat up as we near the start of 2021’s general legislative session.
As is normal, politicians are willing to use any crisis to accomplish their goals. Wyoming’s legislative leadership wants to hold the first part of the critical 2021 General Session online. We need leadership that will allow all voices to be heard. Not holding the legislative session as normal will severely hamper the growing conservative faction.
This past election was a bountiful one for conservatives throughout Wyoming, especially in Campbell County. In my estimation, there are roughly 32 conservatives in the Wyoming Legislature split between the House and Senate. Those 32 conservatives, Republicans all, represent the largest conservative class of legislators in the last fifteen years.
Unfortunately, liberals (Democrat and Republican) have control of the leadership in the House. That doesn’t bode well for Wyoming. I predict regular joes and small businesses will pay the bill for that liberal control. With Governor Gordon’s support, I expect our legislature will establish new taxes, more spending, and fewer structural cuts than would otherwise be suitable for the challenges facing Wyoming.
Worse still is the way our legislative House leadership wants to accomplish their liberal anti-Republican agenda. There are plans afoot not to have the legislature meet as usual this January. Using COVID as the excuse, House leadership wants to split the 2021 General Session into two parts, twelve days of an online session and the balance to be held later on at an unspecified time, in an undetermined manner.
Online meetings limit the discourse that legislators can have. Most adversely affected will be new legislators who are learning the rules of their chamber. The returning moderate and liberal salons have their long-standing networks. Newly organized conservatives, especially the nascent conservative Freedom Caucus, start from scratch as the lion’s share of conservatives are freshly elected.
Ultimately veteran legislators, the majority of whom are liberals (Democrat and Republican), will have a decided advantage in online meetings. Keep in mind that the moderates and liberals of both the Democrat and Republican parties under the leadership of Steve Harshman and Eric Barlow got Wyoming into this mess.
Recently I had the occasion to visit the Campbell County Clerk. The Clerk’s offices were fully staffed. If they can work every day seeing 100 or more citizens daily, certainly our legislators can do the same. Certainly, COVID is a danger, as the tragic death of my friend Rep. Roy Edwards highlights. However, other state legislatures, especially South Dakota, are meeting as usual. Why can’t Wyoming?
What can Wyoming do to hold the General session as usual?
First off, reserve enough vaccinations for the legislators and legislative staff that wish to be vaccinated. Second, the state should provide N95 masks, face shields, latex gloves, and hand-sanitizers for all staff and legislators to use at their discretion.
Wyoming is in a world of pain right now and needs our elected officials to lead us out of the darkness. That can only happen if they meet as usual for this session. We don’t need them cowering in their homes.
Whatever happened to cowboying up, and doing what needs doing?
Please, contact your legislators and Speaker of the House, Eric Barlow (682-9639). Please ask them to meet as expected. Please do it for Wyoming; the job you save may be your own.