2017 Senate Files

Number of bills analyzed

Bills supported

Bills Opposed

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SupportSF 0015: Special district budget requirements
Position: Support

This bill outlines requirements pertaining to public records, budgets, and meetings for certain types of special districts and entities when their principal act is silent or unclear on those topics. The bill requires the special districts and entities to maintain documents including board minutes, financial statements, and budgets (among others). Entities must maintain those files at their business or office for purposes of public review if they are open more than 20 business hours per week. If they are not, they must file those documents with the county clerk. The bill specifies requirements for budget proposals and allows the board of county commissioners to require a budget hearing before the district adopts a budget, and also states that district supervisors shall administer the finances of the district according to the provisions of the Uniform Municipal Fiscal Procedures Act. The bill requires meetings to be open to the public, and requires the specified entities to “file any rules and regulations it promulgates, ordinances or bylaws it adopts and any amendments thereto with the county clerk for each county in which it is located.” Transparency is indispensable to maintaining a limited government that serves the people. This bill supports the principle of limited government by ensuring that special districts, which are governmental entities, conduct their business in a transparent manner.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Limited Government
SupportSF 0017: Municipal Jurisdiction
Position: Support

Currently, there are instances in which city authorities can exercise jurisdiction over land that lies outside of city limits. This bill helps protect the individual liberty of citizens who live outside city limits by requiring city authorities to get preapproval for any extraterritorial jurisdiction they plan to exercise from the county commissioners. This acts as a check on city government and, since citizens who live outside of city limits get to vote on their county commissioners, ensures that citizens have recourse at the polls should city governments begin to violate their rights. The bill also clarifies that a plat application for land located within 1 mile of a city but that lies outside city limits only needs the approval of the municipality in addition to the approval of the board of county commissioners if the land in the plat is not regulated by zoning consistent with a comprehensive plan adopted under the commissioners’ authority pursuant to 18-5-202(b). Creating a check to help protect citizens from overreaching government? Woohoo!

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Property Rights
  • Limited Government
SupportSF 0020: Student digital information privacy
Position: Support

This bill specifies protections for the rights of K-12 students with respect to digital information accounts. Digital information accounts mean electronic services used to communicate or store digital assets, such as a Gmail or Facebook account. The bill prohibits school district employees or officers from requiring a student or prospective student to give them access to a student’s digital information account or require the student (or prospective student) to access the account in a way that would allow school district employees or officers to view information contained in the account. The bill prohibits several potential “work arounds” by forbidding school employees or officers from compelling students/prospective students to change the privacy settings associated with the account to make material visible, hand over their electronic device for the purpose of viewing account content, or add the employee/officer to a list of contacts associated with the account. School districts may not expel, discharge, discipline, fail, refuse to admit, or otherwise penalize or threaten a student or prospective student for refusing to disclose digital information nor can they require students to waive those protections.
The bill qualifies that these prohibitions do NOT apply to school-provided digital accounts, that students may voluntarily provide digital information to school officials, that the school can investigate alleged violations of law or school policies based upon the receipt of specific information about activity associated with a student’s digital information account, but only in a way that does NOT require access to information account through usernames/passwords/authentication. Schools may still request and receive written or electronic consent from a student to observe the contents of the account without requiring access to the account by username/password/authentication. It also does not prohibit the school from viewing material that is publicly available, or giving a student tech support with the student’s voluntary consent. Students or prospective students can also disclose their account information if they have been provided advance notice that such disclosure is voluntary.
This bill protects the property rights students possess in their digital information accounts. It does not prohibit school district employees or officials from getting parents or the police involved if they suspect something may be happening on a student’s digital account that violates law or contains information that could be relevant to preventing danger to the student or others.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Property Rights
OpposeSF 0024: Film industry Financial Incentive Program
Position: Oppose

This bill recreates a film industry financial incentive program, which would be administered by the Wyoming tourism board. The purpose of the program is to encourage the use of Wyoming as a site for filming and provide production services for filmed entertainment, promote the state as a tourist destination through investments in branded entertainment, or match funds from local lodging taxes to support local film production opportunities. The program will be funded by appropriations from the legislature in addition to contributions, grants, gifts, bequests and donations to the account. This is a textbook example of crony corporatism, folks. While proposed for the alleged purpose of helping local communities by generating tourism, it is not the role of government for the state to take tax dollars from citizens all over Wyoming and use that money to incentivize a particular industry that will generally only benefit a few particular locales. This is picking winners and losers on multiple fronts.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
  • Fiscal Responsibility
SupportSF 0026: Game and Fish Licenses-Confidentiality
Position: Support

Currently, the information collected as part of the application for fish and game licenses is subject to the Wyoming Public Records Act (W.S. §16-4-201 through 16-4-205), which means that the information can be disclosed to someone who files a public record request. Sportsmen are concerned that retailers are filing public record requests in order to acquire their personal information, such as email addresses, which the retailers then use for advertising purposes. This bill states that the Game and Fish Commission shall provide an option for individuals to designate specified personally identifiable information (such as an email address) as confidential. When the state requires information from citizens, it should be responsible with that information and utilize it only for clearly defined and necessary purposes. The state should also endeavor to protect the confidentiality of information that is required by the state unless there is a compelling public interest in disclosing that information. Providing the choice for individuals to retain their privacy on fish and game licenses seems to be a reasonable approach to protecting the right to privacy.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
SupportSF 0033: Computer Extortion
Position: Support

This bill makes computer extortion a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than ten (10) years, a fine of not more than ten thousand dollars ($ 10,000.00), or both. Computer extortion means knowingly and without authorization introducing, or directing or inducing another to introduce, any ransomware into a computer, computer system or computer network which requires the payment of money or other consideration to remove the ransomware or repair the damage caused to the computer, computer system or computer network by the ransomware. This bill supports property rights.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Property Rights
SupportSF 0034: Student Personal Digital Information Protection Act
Position: Support

This bill prohibits operators that provide public K-12 schools and programs with “websites, software, services or application with actual knowledge the website, software, service or application is used for preschool through grade twelve (12) purposes and was designed and marketed for preschool through grade twelve (12) purposes” from collecting data on students for the purposes of “targeted advertising” without verifiable written or electronic consent from a parent, emancipated minor or young adult if over the age of 18. According to the bill, “Targeted advertising means presenting advertisements to a student where the advertisement is selected based on information obtained or inferred from the student’s online behavior, usage of applications or student data” but does not include advertisements that appear based on a student’s search query or make recommendations on “additional content or services related to an educational, learning or employment opportunity to students within a public school service’s or program service’s site, software, service or application provided that the recommendation is not determined in whole or in part by payment or other consideration from a third party.” The bill also prohibits selling and trading student data to other parties. Since the state mandates education from age 7 to either age 16 or the completion of 10th grade, it is appropriate for the state to protect the personal information that can be collected on students through services that are a part of that education.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
Not RatedSF 0045: Liquor Dispensing Rooms
Position: Not Rated

This bill begins by paring back regulations and fees on liquor dispensation, which supports the principle of limited government. Current statute says that the principal place that liquor is sold must be located in one room of an establishment, although it allows dispensation of liquor in an additional room or rooms for extra fees. This bill scraps the “rooms” language and additional fees for serving liquor in additional rooms, instead licensing an entire building to dispense liquor. Unfortunately, the bill also proposes a new statute stating that individuals under twenty-one years of age may not “(vi) Enter or remain in an establishment that is primarily for off-premise sales of alcoholic liquor or malt beverages unless accompanied by a parent, spouse or legal guardian who is twenty-one (21) years of age or older.” This change violates the individual liberty of citizens and interferes with the property rights of establishment owners who ought to be free to determine who they want to allow on their property. Consequently, this bill receives a No Rate because it both supports and opposes principles of good governance. At Principles of Liberty we refer to such bills as “having conflicting principles,” and since we don’t weight principles, we cannot rate them. However, as in this case, sometimes once we’ve gone through all the work to analyze a bill we still publish a report on the bill explaining what the bill does and why we are unable to rate it.
Further, the two objectives of this bill differ so greatly that we question whether this bill is in keeping with the spirit of the “single subject rule.” Per the Wyoming State Constitution, Wyoming is a single subject state—meaning that a bill may pertain only to the single subject expressed in its title. The single subject rule helps ensure that legislators evaluate and vote on one statutory change at a time rather than allowing them to create and vote on giant bills containing changes to statute on multiple issues that are lumped into one package through a process of political deal making (which occurs at the federal level). Such bills force citizens to accept the good along with the bad. The single subject rule promotes government transparency and provides accountability for each policy vote. While the changes proposed in SF0045 Liquor Dispensing Rooms all pertain to liquor, one set of changes reduces regulations on the distribution of liquor while the other increases government regulation of citizen behavior. These are two very different changes, and we wonder whether sandwiching them together in the same bills is in keeping with the spirit of the single subject rule.

OpposeSF 0054: Military Spouse Hiring Preference
Position: Oppose

At Principles of Liberty, we define the principle “Equal Protection of Law” as “the principle that all citizens receive equal protection under both federal and state law, and that no groups of people receive either favorable or unfavorable treatment from government.” This bill singles out a group, military spouses, to receive preferential treatment from the government when they apply for a position of public employment. While we have the highest respect for servicemen, servicewomen, and their spouses, equal protection of the law rejects preferential treatment by the state irrespective of the attribute being used to classify the group. According to the principle of equal protection of law, both discrimination against particular groups and preferential treatment for particular groups are inappropriate.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Equal Protection/Rule of Law
OpposeSF 0073: High school graduation requirements
Position: Oppose

This is a late release as this bill has already failed in the Senate, however we are including SF0073 in our report because it will factor into our scorecard at the end of the legislative session. This bill would have added “just one more” high school requirement: either a fourth year of math (currently, 3 years of math are required for graduation) or one year of computer science. Comments from senators opposed to the bill during debate on the senate floor included that not all career paths require math, and that there are already guidance counselors and other resources available to help students select the classes they may need for the jobs they might wish to pursue. One senator opposed to the bill summed up the principle at play perfectly, stating that the bill essentially conveys: “We’re telling [people] ‘we know best for you.’” This bill would have created a school system with even less flexibility for parents and students to personalize education to fit a student’s needs.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Limited Government
OpposeSF 0086: Game and fish permits
Position: Oppose

This bill authorizes the Game and Fish Commission to, “by rule and regulation, regulate through the issuance of permits or prohibit the possession and importation of any coyote, porcupine, raccoon, red fox or skunk within Wyoming.” It also allows the commission to establish “an annual fee not to exceed one hundred dollars ($ 100.00) for any wildlife or exotic species possession, importation, scientific research, educational or special purpose permit issued in accordance with commission rules and regulations.” While we personally don’t think that owning a coyote sounds like a good idea, it’s not the role of the state to let Fish and Game force citizens to get permits for certain pets.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Limited Government
OpposeSF 0088: Palliative Care
Position: Oppose

This bill creates an advisory council for the purposes of making information and education on palliative care available to the public and health care providers, advising the Wyoming Department of Health regarding palliative care, and making recommendations to the governor and the legislature on palliative care policy. The task force is also charged with maintaining dialogue with law enforcement regarding “how to accommodate the legitimate uses of drugs for palliative care with efforts to control the dangerous and illegal uses of those drugs.” The bill mandates that the council will contain between 9 and 13 members, and that the composition of the board will include at least two health care professionals with professional experience in palliative or hospice care, at least one licensed pharmacist, at least one law enforcement professional with experience in illegal drug offenses, at least one member with experience counseling seriously ill or dying persons as a member of the clergy or as a mental health professional, and at least one member active in the faith community in Wyoming.
Stakeholders in the palliative care industry already have the ability to meet and discuss palliative care in Wyoming—private industry groups meet like this all the time. Legislators already have the ability to work directly with care providers and patients in the palliative care industry in order to address potential concerns with existing statute, although no concerns pertaining to existing Wyoming laws on palliative care were brought up in the bill’s committee hearing. Creating a council in order to study a specific industry, educate the public, and generally give advice expands government and sets a precedent for more government expansion in the future.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Limited Government
SupportSF 0115: Malicious Cruelty to Animals
Position: Support

This bill makes it a felony punishable by not more than two years imprisonment and/or a fine of not more than $ 5,000 to seriously injure or destroy any livestock or domesticated animal owned by another person while the animal is on property owned by that person or on which the animal is authorized to be present. I.e., it’s a prosecutable offense to shoot, poison, or otherwise seriously injure or destroy someone else’s animal when it’s somewhere it is authorized to be.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Property Rights
OpposeSF 0132: ENDOW Initiative
Position: Oppose

This act creates the Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming (ENDOW) executive council. The council will be comprised of no more than 15 members who represent existing, new and emerging economic sectors or subsectors or have demonstrated executive level experience and the chairmen of the house and senate minerals, business and economic development committees shall be non-voting ex officio members. The council is charged with an “exhaustive” study of the Wyoming economy and producing a report containing recommendation for “a comprehensive economic diversification strategy.” Economic development is “code” for “government interfering with the free market and picking winners and losers in selected industries”, ultimately at the expense of our tax dollars. Don’t believe us? This bill specifies: “The report shall identify specific areas which should be designated as business development and innovation zones. In identifying potential zones the report shall review the establishment of zones including, but not limited to, industries involving agriculture and agricultural business, renewable energy sources, advanced clean coal technologies, nuclear fuel…” etc. etc. It’s not the proper role of government to attempt to direct what is supposed to be a free market economy.

Bonus:
After amendment in the Senate, this bill now includes a provision granting unilateral authority to the executive branch to pick winners and losers with your tax dollars:
“Of this appropriation, not less than $ 1.5 million shall be earmarked for expenditure under this act for workforce development recommended by the ENDOW executive council to carry into effect the state’s economic diversification strategy. These earmarked funds may be expended by the governor for other purposes consistent with the provisions of this act should the governor determine an immediate economic diversification opportunity exists and the earmarked funds are necessary to realize that opportunity.”

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSF 0150: Long Acting Reversible Contraception
Position: Oppose

This bill authorizes the department of health to create an account to fund the provision of long acting reversible contraceptives, which the bill defines as “injections, intrauterine devices, implants and other similar methods of long acting reversible contraception.” Wyoming law already authorizes the department of health to provide and pay for family planning and birth control information and services, and the department currently provides long acting reversible contraception information and services under this authorization. This bill would create a separate account dedicated to funding long acting reversible contraception information and services. The bill directs the department of health to “apply for any grants and other sources of funding that may be available” to provide funding for the account. While testimony focused on private sources of funding, we can’t spot anything in the bill that would preclude other sources of funding. The bill specifies that funds in that account derived from grants or private contributions may only be used to provide long acting or reversible contraceptives for free or at reduced cost to eligible women. For the purposes of the account, the bill defines eligible women as women who would likely become qualified for prenatal or delivery coverage under Wyoming Medicaid. Don’t let the ruse of “private funding” or “gifts, grants or donations” fool you. In other states, private groups fund these types of programs to get them up and running, then publicize what wonderfully “successful” programs they are… then stop funding them and leave it to legislators to find taxpayer money for them. Facilitating contraception services is not the role of the state.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Limited Government
SupportSF 0155: Alcoholic Bar and Liquor License Increase
Position: Support

This bill marginally increases the number of bar and grill liquor licenses available in municipalities. In Wyoming, state law limits the number of liquor licenses available and the number of licenses available is determined by population formulas (i.e., you can have X number of liquor licenses of Y type for every Z number of people in a given area). Businesses that cannot acquire one of these licenses because the quota of licenses in a given area have already been issued must purchase a license from a business that is willing to sell its liquor license (if they can find one). State limitation on the number of liquor licenses issued artificially drives up the price of liquor licenses available on the “free market,” sometimes up to six or seven figures. The existing policy is a flagrant violation of a true free market. Unfortunately, this policy creates a host of complications for businesses that have purchased liquor licenses for large sums of money and use their liquor licenses as collateral for loans, etc. etc. This bill makes a careful but positive change to the existing situation by slightly increasing the number of bar and grill liquor licenses available in municipalities.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Limited Government
OpposeSF 0170: Unmanned Aircraft
Position: Oppose

This bill pre-emptively mandates the creation of regulations regarding unmanned aircrafts based on the idea that unmanned aircrafts with passengers are an innovation coming down the pipeline and that Wyoming “needs to be prepared” when they arrive. As defined by federal law, the term “unmanned aircraft” means an aircraft operated without the possibility of direct human intervention from within or on the aircraft but does not explicitly preclude a person being present in said aircraft. This bill would require the Wyoming Aeronautics Commission to “promulgate reasonable rules governing where unmanned aircraft may take off and land, giving consideration to public health and safety, aesthetics and the general welfare. Unless otherwise prohibited by federal law, the commission may also promulgate reasonable rules governing the operation of unmanned aircraft.” This bill does not apply to small unmanned aircraft (as defined in federal statute), so it would not apply to most drones currently on the market. The bill would also add unmanned aircraft to the commission’s existing authorization to study airline and aircraft profitability, route analysis, air fare monitoring and recommendations for legislative changes to enhance air services in the state and adds unmanned aircraft to the existing statutory prohibition on landing on someone else’s land or property without permission. Mandating that a commission create rules regulating an industry that doesn’t even exist yet? Definitely an expansion of government.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Limited Government