Area representatives sponsor bills in uncertain session

Posted 1/12/21

The Big Horn Basin will have some new representation in the Wyoming Legislature this session, as well as some experienced lawmakers.

Legislators will meet today (Tuesday) to satisfy requirements …

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Area representatives sponsor bills in uncertain session


The Big Horn Basin will have some new representation in the Wyoming Legislature this session, as well as some experienced lawmakers.

Legislators will meet today (Tuesday) to satisfy requirements of the Wyoming Constitution, including swearing in of new lawmakers, but other business is expected to be delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the schedule remains uncertain, area lawmakers are planning to introduce legislation when the session does finally get underway.


Rep. Laursen

Rep. Dan Laursen, R-Powell, is looking at introducing a bill that would require legislative approval for public health orders that extend longer than 13 days. The bill would also require county commissions to approve public health orders enacted on the county level.

Laursen, who has served in the Legislature since 2015, also wants to introduce legislation to redefine how members of the state’s powerful Management Council are chosen so there would be fewer members of the minority party in the Legislature serving on it. House Bill 36 changes the way members are selected, eliminating language that required selections from parties other than the president of the Legislature. Starting in 2023, the bill, if passed, will also change a requirement for a member at large to not be from the same party as the chairman of the council if membership of a minority party is greater than 30% of the membership of the House of which the chairman is not a member.

Currently, there are five Democrats and eight Republicans on the council, even though there are only two Democrats in the Senate and four in the House.

Another bill he may sponsor would require able-bodied Medicaid recipients to work, volunteer, or pursue education for at least 20 hours per week.


Rep. Rodriguez-Williams

Rep. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, R-Cody, who won the House District 50 race last year, will pursue two pro-life bills. The first, which she is sponsoring, would require providers to get “voluntary and full informed consent” from the patient before performing an abortion.

“This bill would protect not only the unborn child, but the woman’s uninformed decision to have an abortion,” Rodriguez-Williams explained.

The bill would require that women be given information about the specific abortion procedure, be specifically informed that her decision must be voluntary, and that her consent may not be the result of coercion. Additionally, if passed into law, the bill would require the provider to explain to patients the approximate gestational age and description of the development of the fetus.

Rodriguez-Williams will also co-sponsor another abortion bill. The bill, “Born alive infant-means of care,” creates criminal penalties for those who don’t provide lifesaving care to aborted fetuses who are born alive. The same bill — which is sponsored by Sen. Cheri Steinmetz, R-Lingle — was vetoed by Gov. Mark Gordon in the last session.

“I am working hard at reviewing additional bills and discussing them with colleagues,” Rodriguez-Williams added.


Rep. Newsome

Rep. Sandy Newsome, R-Cody, has a couple bills she plans to introduce. The first clarifies how offroad motorcycles can be licensed.

“At this point, the county clerks who oversee that interpret the current statute in different ways. It’s confusing to the motorcycle dealers and to the people who buy off road motorcycles, commonly known as dirt bikes,” Newsome explained.

Even when the vehicles meet requirements to be street legal, some counties will license them and some won’t. In 2007, the Legislature passed a law to allow ATVs that meet the street legal requirements to be driven on roads and highways, and Newsome’s dirt bike bill uses similar language.

Newsome, who has served in the Legislature since 2019, said the bill was requested by people at Mountain Valley Motorsports, a dirt bike dealer in Cody. Their customers were often asking if the vehicles they purchased would be licensed, and the sales representatives at Mountain Valley couldn’t say for certain.

“We’re just trying to be consistent,” Newsome said. 

Another bill she is planning to introduce would clarify the length of time title insurance companies would have to keep documentation. It is in response to a situation in which a constituent of Newsome’s purchased a piece of property; he had title research done, but there was an easement the company didn’t let him know about.

In the interim, the person who did the title work retired and took all the records, making it difficult to rectify the situation. Newsome’s bill would require all the documentation related to title work stay with the title company and not the individual who did the work.


Sen. French

Sen. Tim French, R-Powell, who won Senate District 18 this past election, is considering being among the co-sponsors, along with Rodriguez-Williams, on a bill that will require voter approval for any new fees and taxes passed by the Legislature.

French is also mulling over the possibility of introducing legislation exempting Wyoming residents from the state’s 5% lodging tax.

“There are so many Wyoming residents who go to a sports event, or drive across the state for work,” French explained.

He is also considering legislation that would limit no-bid contracts in the state. He said he wanted to open the competition for state contracts to more Wyoming contractors.

Currently, there are more than 400 bills being drafted, and with the session dates in question, French said it’s going to be hard to get any legislation through.

“That’s going to be a real challenge, especially if they don’t have a face-to-face session,” French said.

Bills being considered by Sen. R.J. Kost, R-Powell, were covered in a Jan. 7 story.