Dead bills pile up in Budget Session boneyard

By Gregory Nickerson
— February 12, 2014

In Wyoming’s short 20-day budget session bills must receive a two-thirds vote to be introduced. In the House, that number is 40 out of 60 votes, while in the Senate it stands at 20 out of 30 votes. Read on for a summary of bills that didn’t pass the bar by the second day of the session.

In the House

The Wyoming House of Representatives, where bills must receive 40 out of 60 votes to gain introduction to the first step of the legislative process, known as General File. (WyoFile/Gregory Nickerson — click to enlarge)

The House had killed 11 bills by the end of Tuesday, February 11. Legislation sponsored by Rep. James Byrd (D-Cheyenne), Rep. Lee Filer (R-Cheyenne), Rep. Eric Barlow (R-Gillette) failed to gain the two-thirds vote needed for introduction.

Two of Rep. Byrd’s bills would have increased the minimum wage, and reduced penalties for marijuana possession. When the latter bill failed, House Speaker Rep. Tom Lubnau (R-Gillette) quipped that it had, “gone up in smoke.”

The social media accounts of legislative press corps lit up in response to the joke. Many legislative followers use the Twitter hashtag #wyleg to follow the session. See the latest here.

Byrd’s other bills would have allowed employees to be paid for accrued vacation time when they leave a job, and eliminated the requirement that attendance officers file complaints in court against parents whose children are truant.

Rep. Barlow’s bill would have lowered the coal severance tax and imposed a tax on natural gas flaring. Rep. Filer’s bills would have changed requirements for posting speed control signs in front of schools, and designated chocolate chip as the state cookie.  The cookie bill failed to be introduced by a single vote.

  • Bill ##    Bill Sponsor             Bill Title                 Date of Action,  Action Taken, # of Ayes and Nays
  • HB0016 CORPORATIONS Misclassification of employees-penalties. 10-Feb-14 H Failed Introduction 32-26-1-1-0
  • HB0017 CORPORATIONS Exterior residential storm damage repair 10-Feb-14 H Failed Introduction 34-24-1-1-0
  • HB0031 TRAVEL Game and fish-fees. 10-Feb-14 H Failed Introduction 26-32-1-1-0
  • HB0045 Byrd Minimum wage. * 11-Feb-14 H Failed Introduction 9-51-0-0-0
  • HB0049 Byrd Marihuana possession. * 11-Feb-14 H Failed Introduction 15-45-0-0-0
  • HB0052 TRANSPORTATION National guard funding-maintenance. * 11-Feb-14 H Failed Introduction 22-37-1-0-0
  • HB0057 Byrd Collection of unpaid wages. * 11-Feb-14 H Failed Introduction 11-48-1-0-0
  • HB0058 Byrd Failure to attend school. * 11-Feb-14 H Failed Introduction 10-50-0-0-0
  • HB0066 Barlow Severance tax. * 11-Feb-14 H Failed Introduction 21-38-1-0-0
  • HB0067 Filer School zone traffic control device. * 11-Feb-14 H Failed Introduction 30-30-0-0-0
  • HB0068 Filer State cookie. * 11-Feb-14 H Failed Introduction 39-20-1-0-0

The following bills failed the Senate, including three measures from Sen. Bruce Burns (R-Big Horn), Sen. Leslie Nutting (R-Cheyenne), and Sen. Chris Rothfuss (D-Laramie).

Sen. Burns’ bill would have allowed death penalty executions by firing squad in Wyoming in cases where drugs for lethal injections could not be obtained. He explained that some states have trouble acquiring drugs for lethal injection, causing them to use a secondary method. Wyoming’s secondary method of execution is the gas chamber, but the state currently does not have a functioning gas chamber. Sen. Burns thought that firing squad more practical than methods of execution like hanging or electrocution. The bill received only 13 of 20 votes needed for introduction.

Sen. Nutting’s bill would have provided for a study of security issues at Wyoming institutions of higher education, and the creation of a report to be presented to the Joint Education Committee later this year. That bill received only 11 votes of the 20 needed to survive.

Sen. Rothfuss’ bill would have allowed open primary elections, in which a member of any political party could vote in another party’s primary election. He advocated the bill as a way to avoid the development of partisan gridlock of the kind seen in Congress.  Democrats in Wyoming are a distinct minority, and some members of that party elect to change their registrations to vote in primaries for favored Republican candidates. Some Republicans take a dim view of the practice. The bill received only 8 votes of the 20 required for introduction.

  • Bill ##    Bill Sponsor             Bill Title                 Date of Action,  Action Taken, # of Ayes and Nays
  • SF0037 JUDICIARY Penalties for misdemeanor offenses. * 11-Feb-14 S Failed Introduction 18-12-0-0-0
  • SF0049 Burns Death penalty-execution. * 11-Feb-14 S Failed Introduction 17-13-0-0-0
  • SF0073 Nutting Campus security study. * 11-Feb-14 S Failed Introduction 11-19-0-0-0
  • SF0077 Rothfuss Open primary elections. * 11-Feb-14 S Failed Introduction 8-22-0-0-0

To read the full text of legislation, see the 2014 bill index.

— Gregory Nickerson is the government and policy reporter for WyoFile. He writes the Capitol Beat blog. Contact him at greg@wyofile.com. Follow him on twitter @GregNickersonWY.

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Gregory Nickerson

Gregory Nickerson worked as government and policy reporter for WyoFile from 2012-2015. He studied history at the University of Wyoming. Follow Greg on Twitter at @GregNickersonWY and on www.facebook.com/GregoryNickersonWriter/

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