Speaker of the House Eric Barlow has assigned Wyoming’s redistricting bill to the House Education Committee instead of the committee that spent six months hammering it out. Barlow (R-Gillette) made the unconventional assignment in light of accusations lodged by the Wyoming GOP that Co-chairman of the Joint Corporations, Elections, and Political Subdivisions Committee Dan Zwonitzer (R-Cheyenne) does not live in his district.
Barlow doesn’t want the task of redistricting “to be encumbered by this matter,” he said Monday. “So it’s purely a management of time and place, so that we can continue the absolute necessity of the redistricting work.”
- Why it matters: It’s not standard practice to assign a bill to an unrelated committee, Barlow said, but it still falls within the confines of the House rules. “If we didn’t have this other matter, it would be going to the corporations committee where it originated,” he said.
Zwonitzer — whose positions on redistricting have at times differed with those of his state party’s central committee — has characterized that body’s accusations against him as “a political hit.”
As a result of those accusations, the bill is no longer subject to his influence as Corporations committee chairman.
- History: Redistricting is required by lawmakers every 10 years following the U.S. Census in order to accurately reflect population changes. Wyoming’s lawmakers are required to approve a new map by the end of the session March 4.
- Next up: Barlow’s decision to assign the bill to the House Education committee has no bearing on what happens in the Senate. However, if that body’s President, Dan Dockstader (R-Afton), sends it to the Senate Education Committee, the bill could face additional challenges. The Senate Education Committee’s Chair, Sen. Charlie Scott (R-Casper), has voted against the bill before, and has his own redistricting plan.
- What else you should know: It is up to the House to decide the fate of the complaint lodged against Zwonitzer, including whether to empanel an investigating committee. Barlow said his suggestion is “to resolve this matter by the end of business [on] Tuesday.”
In the meantime, four of Zwonitzer’s constituents, Eric Crosby, Sherry Crosby, Lynne Robin Godspeed and Kathryn Kij, served the representative with a summons for information. They are seeking his address.
Zwonitzer plans to ask for a motion to dismiss, he told WyoFile in a comment, calling it “another attempt by the far-right to make bad press.”