Kudos to legislators, firefighters, community
April 8, 2021
The Wyoming Legislature 2021 regular session came to an end this week with some final bills being worked in conference committee.
A lot of those bills you and I may never know what they do or don’t do. They won’t impact us but that does not make them any less important.
Our local legislators were busy this session with individually sponsored bills and committee bills. Between Rep. Mike Greear (R-Worland) and Sen. Ed Cooper (R-Ten Sleep) 11 of 12 bills that they sponsored were supported by their fellow legislators and have either been signed by the governor or will be signed.
They worked well together in this Cooper’s first session and we should expect more in the coming years.
We send extra kudos to them for two bills in particular — the bill regarding air ambulance memberships and the bill updating the Slayer Rule, both of which were signed by Governor Gordon Tuesday.
For several years now Washakie County has contracted with Guardian Flight to provide air ambulance memberships for all county residents. I personally know people have benefited from this membership. Without this bill, the current agreement with Guardian Flight would end in under two years and be unable to be renewed.
However, being able to provide the memberships was not the only important part of the bill, it also provided some consumer protections.
While having a membership for an air ambulance can save someone a lot of money for not having to pay if they are ever air lifted for medical reasons, there is always the potential that the air ambulance service you have a membership for, might not be the air ambulance that responds to your emergency. While this has been made clear with the Guardian Flight agreement, the law ensures that every consumer is notified about this.
This knowledge came in handy a few years ago when a family member who resided in Washakie County was in the Lovell emergency room and they were awaiting an air ambulance. I inquired where the ambulance was coming from and asked if it could be Guardian Flight. Since they were waiting on a response from another air ambulance service, they contacted Guardian Flight and had the response scheduled.
Whether or not the county is able to financially continue the agreement we will have to wait and see but with the legislation the opportunity still exists.
The bill was sponsored by Greear.
Cooper was contacted prior to the session by Mel and Darr Lea Walker about their struggles in trying to obtain Mel’s daughter’s personal possessions after she was murdered by her husband. The Slayer Rule under Wyoming law made sure someone could not profit from a crime, especially murder, but it did not address joint tenancy and right-of-survivorship.
The bill addressed this issue and is by all accounts a strong piece of legislation after being completely vetted by the Legislative process.
The bill, signed by Governor Gordon Tuesday, will not help the Walkers but in listening to debate on the bill, many legislators said situations like the Walkers were unfortunately not that uncommon, which means other parents and loved ones would not have to deal with the same issues the Walkers are dealing with now, thanks to this piece of legislation.
While not associated with the Legislature, one more kudo is going out this week — to our firefighters and community members. First to our firefighters who were kept extremely busy Saturday with out-of-control controlled burns. One of those fires was a house fire on South Flat Road. While they could not save the home they fought hard and some items may be salvageable for the Rishels thanks to the efforts of the fire department.
But kudos to the many community members who have already helped out the Rishels, including a place for their pets, two residents providing housing, and the many who have said on social media they have furniture and other items ready to donate.
We are blessed to live in the community we do because of our friends, our neighbors, and our hard working firefighters and legislators.