Serving the Big Horn Basin for over 100 years

There is hope

There are some odd bills and some frustrating bills that have been filed during the current Wyoming Legislative Session, which should tell all residents to pay attention to what is happening in Cheyenne.

Once again there is a bill to try and limit the ability for voters in the state to change party affiliation. I have argued many times in this space that voting is a constitutional right that should not be infringed by party affiliation.

Some parties are concerned that elections are being manipulated by people switching parties for the primary election. In many counties, including Big Horn, Washakie and Hot Springs counties, where there are few, if any, local Democrats seeking office, voters know that to be able to have your vote count for county offices, you need to be a Republican to vote for the candidates on the ballot (typically all Republicans). In Washakie County there were three Republicans for sheriff and four for county commissioner. The Republican nominees were all unopposed in the general election. The races were essentially over after the primary election.

In 2018, according to the Secretary of State’s Office, there were 12,509 party affiliation changes in the primary. However, this included some changing to Republican and then changing back. There were also some who changed to Democrat during the election.

Many people think it is just Democrats who change affiliations to influence Republican elections, however, looking at the 2018 numbers, there were 6,057 Democrats that switched to Republican, but there were also 4,505 unaffiliated (independents) who switched.

I truly believe the majority of people who change affiliation are like myself who just want their voice to be heard at the polls.

Despite the frustration of the legislation, House Bill 141, that would require people to declare party affiliation prior to when the first filing period begins for candidates, House leadership has seen fit to not assign the bill to a committee.

Don’t get me wrong, there is still time for them to assign this to a committee, but with two weeks already gone in the session and the bill is still sitting there it does not seem to be a priority so I commend the leadership for their discretion on this bill.

Another sign of hope was the House Committee of the Whole defeating House Bill 71 that would have provided a sales tax holiday for back to school supplies. Area legislators — Martha Lawley (R-Worland), John Winter (R-Thermopolis) and Dalton Banks (R-Cowley) were among the 38 voting against the bill. Kudos to them.

As I expressed in an earlier opinion piece this would have been a logistical headache for retailers, would cost cities and towns necessary revenue and likely would not provide the benefit intended.

The House has passed House Bill 18 that will expand the missing person alert system to include adults at risk. Per the bill, at risk means “an adult who has a developmental disability, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, or who suffers from or could, without access to medication, suffer from cognitive impairment if the impairment would likely render the adult incapable of getting to a familiar location without assistance.”

The quicker we can get word out on any missing person the better it is. Kudos for moving this bill forward quickly. It is now in the hands of the Senate.

Just a note on some other bills in the House that have been introduced but not assigned to a committee — House Bill 110 that would make the Juneteenth federal holiday a legal state holiday. Juneteenth became a federal holiday in 2021.

—House Bill 117 – Abortion amendments to repeal Wyoming’s trigger bill; House Bill 152 – Life is a Human Right Act. Perhaps the Legislature is going to wait to see how the current court case on the current abortion prohibition law turns out.

And as for odd, Senate File 95 has passed the Senate and is now in the House. The bill recognizes July 20 as Moon Landing Day. The bill states that the governor may issue a proclamation, and the day, recognizes American astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin for walking on the moon, and Michael Collins who piloted the command module. The bill states, “The day shall be appropriately observed by state and local government and by organizations within the state.”

A bill just introduced this week, House Bill 218, and co-sponsored by Winter, would designate the Teton county fairgrounds as the Rylee McCollum Teton County fairgrounds state historic site. Per the proposed legislation, the fairgrounds and rodeo began in 1941.

According to the bill, “The Teton county fairgrounds are where citizens and tourists alike come together to celebrate and mourn; In 2021 at the Jackson Hole rodeo, the Teton county community honored the life of Lance Corporal Rylee McCollum, who was killed in action in Afghanistan on August 26, 2021 …”

There is much going on in the Legislature and you can check out what’s going on in Cheyenne by reviewing the bills at, or watch live or recorded sessions on the Wyoming Legislature YouTube channel.