Around the County

How many new laws must we suffer?

By Pat Stuart
Posted 4/11/23

What ever happened to the guiding Republican principle that, “He who governs least, governs best?” 

In poll after poll, Republicans say they favor the following: small government, …

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Around the County

How many new laws must we suffer?


What ever happened to the guiding Republican principle that, “He who governs least, governs best?” 

In poll after poll, Republicans say they favor the following: small government, personal freedoms, getting rid of regulations and low taxes. So, what did we get from the 2023 legislative session? More laws requiring more regulations leading to more government to enforce those regulations, less personal freedom and higher taxes.

If the people we send to Cheyenne really believe what they say about shrinking the regulatory state, they would spend their legislative time working over old laws with an eye toward eliminating or reducing them and all the regulations they spawn. Instead, way too many of them grade themselves on how many new laws they can introduce and pass ... seemingly unmindful of the fact that new laws require new regulations, requiring more enforcement money, more government workers and higher taxes.

No wonder our politicians steer clear of tackling the tax codes and, instead and too often, count on handouts from the federal government to close their spending gaps. 

To be fair, a vast majority of bills do nothing more than strike out a word or a clause or change a bill number or serve another housekeeping function. (Which makes me wonder if we shouldn’t be thinking of replacing our expensive legislative system with a computer. GPT-4 could handle the job.)

As for the 2023 legislature, it abounded with examples of proposed statutes ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous, but all loaded with the prospects of more regulation, more enforcement, more government, more spending. For example, how about that piece of legislation aimed at telling us that we can’t do what we don’t even want to do and might not ever think of doing. I’m talking about that now infamous bill prohibiting, repeat prohibiting, Wyoming towns from outlawing rodeo. 

Next year? Perhaps we’ll see companion legislation mandating a rodeo for every town. We could then have a new rodeo police unit, write a book of regulations towns must follow, provide work for dozens of young lawyers, and ... The possibilities are endless. At least all those rodeos might make us enough money to pay for the legislative foolery.

Then there was this: an effort to control banking policies by penalizing banks who lend money to companies the legislators don’t like. Right. Do you want those bright bulbs in Cheyenne mandating your investment policy? Stay tuned.

And, if you think you have control over your own land, well, think again. This legislature seriously considered adding to all the rules that now straitjacket what you can do with your land by prohibiting you from selling to a particular type of buyer (foreign buyers in this session). Next thing you know, they’ll be setting the price, too. I see another book of regulations there.

What about something as basic and as intrinsic to personal freedom as control over your own bedroom, your own body and your own health ... Well, you know the story. They keep chipping away at our personal agency, a chunk at a time. More regulations, more law enforcement, more lawyers, more law suits, more paper, more government. China, with its disastrous one child policy, might start to look pretty good.

Then, there were a whole boatload of Florida-inspired bills that would have reduced the authority of our local school boards. You have to ask yourself: as seen from Cheyenne, do we look, think and act like we’re Floridians? Please don’t tell me we do.

Then, there were all those so-called “reform” bills relating to our voting system. Absolutely necessary. Right? Among this lot, we have that soapbox-stomping piece of legislation that tries to ban what is generally called “cross-over voting.” Incredibly, as impossible as it seems, it actually became a state statute. 

Does anyone seriously think it will keep liberals from voting for conservatives? (I had trouble writing this last sentence — the very thought is a giggle.)

But the real question is: Did our elected representatives do anything to help us, the citizens? I’m thinking of the need for a rewrite of the property tax codes to eliminate the unexpected consequences of throwing impossibly high tax bills on the elderly, the infirm, the unemployed and the poor.

Did they manage to accomplish that? Of course not, although they generously decided to fund an existing law providing some tax relief for some people. Which is a segue to their one notable accomplishment in this session: they passed a budget. Hooray!

But, wait. Isn’t that their job?

Obviously, I could go on, but I’ll give it a rest. Besides, I suspect I’m preaching to the choir.