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Your Responsibility Too

On Jan. 10, our Legislature convened, and Governor Mead gave his State of the State message to all of Wyoming’s citizens. He also presented parts of his budget at that time. As we listened, we heard it is not the best of times, but it’s sure not the worst of times either.

It’s time to develop a state budget for the next two years, and our Legislature does a great job every two years balancing what dollar amount to spend and what to save. Mark Twain once said, “No man’s life, liberty or property is safe while the Legislature is in session.” Well, I don’t think you can say that about Wyoming’s legislature. At times they are more conservative spending our dollars than some of the people they represent. As in all state Legislatures, some like to spend and some like to save a lot. It usually runs along party lines though.

In our Legislature, the Senate has 26 Republicans and four Democrats, and the House has 52 Republicans and eight Democrats. Some say we need a more even mix, but it is what it is. These legislators were voted in by Wyoming’s citizens, so I think it’s just right. I do feel we need more women and minorities, however. 

The short time they are in session this year, our legislators focus on budget, and if a bill comes up outside of the budget, it takes a two-thirds majority to be considered for introduction. 

Some want to address Senate File 104 – the bill that passed last year to take away many of the duties of Superintendant of Public Instruction and lately was struck down by the Wyoming Supreme Court. During this session, they most likely don’t have the time to address that issue. A number of voters think the Legislature dug a hole with the bill and the whole Cindy Hill issue. Now we are watching to see if they keep digging deeper or dig themselves and the state out of the hole. The ruling by the Supreme Court was kind of confusing to a number of us out in the hills, and that is not going to help. 

For agriculture, however, we have some good news headed into the session. Agriculture in Wyoming has some excellent lobbyists and organizations to use for information and input into bills and the budget. We all need to realize that our elected state officials, legislatures and lobbyists are there for the state and the people of the state. It is the responsibility for the people of the state to provide accurate and timely information to them. There can be a number of differing opinions, but the facts have to be true. 

We have to show respect for those with differing opinions and try to understand why they are saying what they are and what issues brought them to that opinion. As long as the facts are true, they should all assist the Legislature in coming to a decision.

Compared to our national Congress, our legislators are heroes. A quote by Ronald Reagan in 1986 is true today about today’s Congress. He said, “Government’s view of the economy could be summed up in a few short phrases. If it moves, tax it. If it keeps moving, regulate it. And if it stops moving, subsidize it.” 

That pretty much describes Washington today, doesn’t it? Makes me glad to live in Wyoming.