2018 Senate Files

Bills Analyzed

Bills supported

Bills Opposed

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OpposeSF 0003: Antelope hunt licenses
Position: Oppose

A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far away… just kidding, we’re talking about Wyoming. In 1940, the single shot antelope hunt in Lander was established. Under current law, the state sets aside 80 antelope licenses for that hunt. Participation in the hunt is by invitation only, so you can make your own assumptions about who gets to participate (maybe government officials, etc.?) This bill would set aside 80 additional antelope licenses for the purpose of “not more than” two antelope hunts per year, for a total of 160 antelope licenses reserved for special hunts. So what’s the big deal? It’s not ok for state to pick out groups of citizens for special treatment or privileges under the law. This bill would double down on the policy of giving out special privileges to some people rather than applying the law with respect to game tags equally to every Wyoming citizen, which is especially ironic given that we’re the “Equality State.” You might hear the argument that “they already do it for one group, so this will allow more groups/people to participate and make it more fair!” Don’t be fooled. As your mama used to say, two wrongs don’t make a right. When a problem exists, we think you should eliminate it—not compound it.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Equal Protection/Rule of Law
OpposeSF 0004: Regulation of bingo and pull tab games
Position: Oppose

Think the citizenry can handle playing bingo without the nanny state getting involved? Think again! This bill specifically authorizes localities to regulate bingo and pull tab games (and charge fees for licensure, of course!), and prohibits organizations from conducting them without a permit if the local jurisdiction requires one. We wonder if the nanny state will employ Big Brother to peek through your windows to make sure your family game night is in compliance (my mom is pretty ruthless at Monopoly…)? (sarcasm.) The bill restricts conducting bingo/pull tab games to non-profit organizations that have been in the state for at least 3 years (we smell cronyism), requires you to be 18 or older to play, tells you who can help conduct the event, and specifies what percentage of the game proceeds go where (supplies, charity, etc.). If you think an organization is conducting a game of bingo unfairly, don’t go there—you don’t need the government to step in and run everything for you.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSF 0014: Biennial energy strategy
Position: Oppose

Want to know what has propelled the United States to the status of world superpower, made it famous for the “American dream,” and made it a place that people are willing to risk death by getting on homemade rafts to traverse the ocean over here? It’s liberty: political, individual, and economic. If you undermine any one of these, the others fall too. This bill replaces the free market approach that took us from the invention of the telegraph to super computers in our pockets in under 200 years with the central planning approach to the market characteristic of North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba. There’s a reason the U.S. is a better place to live. This bill directs the Wyoming Business Council (WBC) to develop a “biennial energy strategy” that “Includes programs and initiatives intended to increase economic competitiveness, expansion and diversification, to provide for efficient and effective regulation and natural resource conservation, reclamation and mitigation and to develop education, innovation and new technologies.” This language is code for the state will take YOUR hard earned money in the form of tax dollars and redistribute it to industries, probably “innovative” ones like electric car companies/wind energy programs/etc. or else whichever industry has the most powerful lobby. We’ve seen this happen loads of times. The bill would also create an Energy Strategy Committee and directs them to review/revise/adopt the strategy prepared by the WBC. Ever heard of crony corporatism? Bills like this make it possible. It is not the role of government to develop new technologies. It the role of government to protect a free market (property rights, etc.) that will accomplish that feat for us. What do you think would have happened if the government had been in charge of developing smart phones? We would not have anything close to what the market offers us now. This is a bill in which special interests will win, and individuals across the state will lose because your hard earned tax money will be wastefully funneled to crony corporate winners.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
SupportSF 0020: Custody in the best interest of the children
Position: Support

This bill addresses an issue of judicial overreach in the arena of child custody. Under Wyoming statute, there are a number of factors for a judge to consider when deciding custody but W.S. 20-2-201 permits “any disposition of the children that appears most expedient and in the best interests of the children.” Subsection (d) specifically allows the judge to “include any combination of joint, shared or sole custody.” Enter the WY Supreme Court. Since 1983 the Wyoming Supreme Court has warned lower courts that joint custody is not favored. Imposing this opinion about child-rearing via the judicial process is not the appropriate role of the judicial branch, not to mention the fact that it’s plain bad policy to decide that one form of custody is always preferable without knowing the merits of a particular case. This bill would codify in statute that “In determining custody a court shall not favor or disfavor any form of custody”, helping ensure that judges can make custody determinations based on the merits of the case and in the best interest of the child—not based on a higher court’s presuppositions. It is entirely appropriate for the state legislature to curb overreach by the judicial branch.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Limited Government
OpposeSF 0031: Veterans’ skilled nursing center
Position: Oppose

If you like the government taking your hard-earned money to do things that aren’t the role of government and bills that authorize spending on projects that we don’t have details on yet, then you’ll love this bill! This bill would authorize the state to build and run a veterans nursing home. This is the state trying to do something that can, and should, be done by the private sector. The bill contains borrowing authority of up to $ 5,000,000 from the legislative stabilization reserve account or any other account selected by the State Treasurer to the State Construction Department or up to 35% of the actual development costs for a facility with the number of beds authorized by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (whichever is less), but we actually have no idea how much the project will cost. Details regarding facility construction, location, number of beds and funding are unknown until the studies directed by the bill are completed. Anybody else hearing Nancy Pelosi’s infamous words on another health care bill: “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it”? The state will also use the info from one of the studies to apply to the VA for a 65% federal government construction cost match (so this bill also redistributes the hard earned income of you and your fellow Americans via the federal government, too).< br/>

So just how much will this cost, you ask? According to the State Construction Department (SCD), the construction cost of the facility cannot be determined until level I and II planning and design are completed and construction costs could vary substantially depending on the design and the programming of the facility (uh, duh). Not to worry though, the SCD provided a broad construction cost range for a 10-12 bed cottage from .84 million to $ 3.4 million per cottage. Aside from the fact that this still isn’t the role of government, we hope you realize that state projects that come in on-budget are about as rare as unicorns. < br/>

Upon construction completion of the facility, the Department of Health would provide care in the
nursing center either directly or by contracting out the operations of the facility to a third party. Yep: they’re going to take your tax dollars to build the facility, and then (potentially) continue to expend your tax dollars by giving them to a private contractor to provide a service that the free market could provide if the government would get out of the way. The costs of these additional responsibilities are… you guessed it, currently unknown. < br/>

Let’s look at an example of government health care from our neighbor to the south, Colorado. The Denver VA hospital was originally projected to cost $ 328 million. It is now estimated (it’s still not finished) to cost over $ 1,730 million. That’s $ 1.73 billion, over 5 times the original estimate. The construction is many years overdue and there seems to be no end in sight!

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
  • Fiscal Responsibility
OpposeSF 0034: Military spouse unemployment sunset repeal
Position: Oppose

This bill has already zipped through the Senate, but it has yet to be heard in the House. Under existing law, there is a provision allowing military spouses to receive unemployment benefits if they can no longer get to their job because the service member spouse is relocated as the result of an assignment on active duty, provided the military spouse registers for work “with the department of workforce services or an equivalent agency of another state.” Other people who must leave their jobs as a result of a spouse’s work-related location transfer do not receive this same treatment. The provision authorizing this military spouse unemployment benefit is set to repeal in July of 2018. This bill would remove the repeal date, extending the current military spouse unemployment policy indefinitely. With individual liberty comes personal responsibility. Each of us is free to chooses our career (including military service), and whom we marry. We know that if one spouse is given a job transfer, the couple will have to make difficult decisions—should they transfer and have the other spouse find a new job? Should they stay where they are, and the person who was supposed to transfer find a different job? Many couples must make these difficult choices. Why are military spouses exempted from the personal responsibility that comes with liberty as it applies to everyone else?

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Equal Protection/Rule of Law
OpposeSF 0035: Military Service Relief Act additional protections
Position: Oppose

This bill has already zipped through the Senate, but it has yet to be heard in the House. This bill would allow people ordered to active service in the uniformed services for a period between 30 to 180 days to suspend or cancel certain service contracts and later reinstate them, and would prohibit service providers from assessing any penalty, interest, fee, loss of deposit or other cost as a result of such action. The bill would make it a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $ 10,000 to violate the provisions proposed by the bill, or to obtain protection under the provisions fraudulently. We have great respect for the men and women who choose to participate in the uniformed services, and if businesses want to put provisions in their service contracts allowing those individuals to suspend or cancel contracts if they’re called to active service, we think that’s a fine idea! However, the government should not be able to alter private contracts. This bill uses government force to override a private contract voluntarily made between two parties, and a free market depends upon property rights and the sanctity of private contracts.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSF 0038: Service contracts-automatic renewal provisions
Position: Oppose

It’s the role of government to enforce private contracts. It is not the role of government to dictate the terms of private contracts. This bill would prohibit automatic renewal provisions in service contracts that causes the contract to be enforceable for more than 6 months after the first day the contract becomes enforceable unless the seller provides the consumer a written reminder between 30 and 90 days before the contract is set to renew. The bill also mandates that a service contract that containing an automatic renewal provision providing for a renewal term exceeding 12 months must prominently display the provision on the first page of the contract. We get it, reading all the fine print when you sign a contract is annoying. But it’s not the role of Big Brother to make sure that if you don’t do your due diligence before signing a contract, you get another shot. Freedom from government interference in a voluntary transaction between two parties is kind of part of the “free” part of the free market.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSF 0040: Commercial air service improvement
Position: Oppose

Let’s take a quiz! The state of Wyoming should to run airline service with your tax dollars because: A) the state is more efficient than the free market B) tax dollars grow on trees, they’re not really citizen money C) all of the above, D) none of the above. You get the point. This bill reflects the idea of some legislators that the state government needs to get involved in centrally planning airline service, to help economic development of course! The bill would create the Wyoming Commercial Air Service Improvement Council to develop a 10 year plan “to improve commercial air service in this state.” The commission is authorized to enter into contracts to procure commercial air service, and a fund is created but no money is appropriated to it—yet. The commission’s plan must include recommendations for initiatives and specific actions “to develop efficient and effective implementation of a long-term, viable strategy for sustainable commercial air service in this state” among other things. The bill goes so far as to require the plan to include a 1 carrier system offering up to 3 daily flights to a major hub each participating commercial air service community in the state. < br/>

Newsflash: if the free market isn’t doing something, it’s because there isn’t enough demand for it (so it’s not a profitable venture). This is the state taking your money by force and using it to pick winners and losers for tax dollar handouts. Sucks extra if you’re someone who doesn’t live anywhere near one of these “major hubs,” doesn’t it? It’s immoral for the government to take your money just to give it away to other people. Not only that, but although the state would like you to think that it can help “develop” the economy, the state isn’t smarter than the free market. If there isn’t enough demand for a service for the free market to provide it, the state can’t possibly make that service a feasible venture unless it uses your money to subsidize it. On top of that, government interference just makes things worse. When the state gets involved in providing services it competes with private industry, it makes it even harder for businesses to compete in the marketplace and often drives them out. Central planning is the opposite approach to a free market. For thoughts on why the free market is the system most conducive to liberty and human flourishing, attend one of our classes.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSF 0041: Organ donation promotion-task force
Position: Oppose

This bill would create the organ donation task force to consider means of improving and promoting the organ donation process and system in Wyoming. While we may personally support organ donation, we do not think it’s the role of government to promote organ donation or to study the “means of increasing the number of Wyoming residents who volunteer to be anatomical donor,” the “means of improving public outreach and organ donation education,” or to “increase the number of volunteer organ donors in Wyoming.” This is a clear expansion of government, and it does not fulfill a proper government role of protecting ones life, liberty, or property. This is extra, feel-good, government over-reach.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Limited Government
SupportSF 0042: Professional licensing-applicant criminal records
Position: Support

This bill would instruct specified regulatory authorities that consider criminal convictions as part of their regulatory duties not to consider prior convictions that do not affect the practice of the profession or occupation being regulated. The bill declares that “It is public policy to consider the relationship of the offense to the purposes of regulating the profession or occupation.” The bill states that the regulatory authorities may not consider convictions more than 20 years old (unless a lesser time is specifically provided by applicable statute) when analyzing a person’s criminal history in the course of their regulatory duties unless the sentence was completed within the last 10 years or the conviction is related to the duties and responsibilities of the profession or occupation, or as otherwise permitted by licensing statutes. The bill goes through a long list of statutes and specifies the types offenses a regulatory body may consider in the scope of their licensing authority. The bill does specify that “a profession or occupation that heals or treats humans may always determine that a crime of violence or sexual misconduct is relevant to the ability to practice the profession or occupation,” although the board or commission may consider the circumstances of the offense in making their licensing decision. This bill limits the scope of regulatory authority to its intended purpose.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Limited Government
OpposeSF 0051: Wind energy facilities-industrial siting
Position: Oppose

Under current law, no person may start constructing an industrial facility as defined in 34-12-102(a)(vii) in the state of Wyoming without first obtaining a permit for that facility from the Industrial Siting Council. This policy opposes the principles of property rights, free markets, and limited government. If you need the state’s permission to do something on your property that doesn’t actively violate the life, liberty, or property of someone else your “liberty” and “property rights” don’t really exist. This bill lets people apply to the siting council for a hearing to argue that even if a wind facility doesn’t currently meet the definition of an industrial facility under current law (so they don’t have to get a siting permit from the council), they should still be regulated because they’ll probably get big enough later. The bill then establishes a form to facilitate this collusion between individuals, competitors, groups, and the government to interfere with property rights. Expanding and tightening up regulations isn’t “more fair,” it’s increasing governmental overreach.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Property Rights
  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSF 0059: Passing stopped school bus
Position: Oppose

This bill would make it so that if the identity of a driver unlawfully passing a stopped school bus isn’t known, it’s assumed to be a primary operator and owner of the vehicle. You weren’t the one driving your car at the time? You’ll have to prove it. This bill is “guilty until proven innocent.”

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Limited Government
SupportSF 0071: Stand your ground
Position: Support

Under current Wyoming Statute 6-2-602, you are presumed to have held a reasonable fear of imminent peril of death or serious bodily injury to yourself or another when using defensive force if you’re in your home or habitation and somebody is unlawfully/forcefully entering or trying to remove you. Essentially, you have a right to defend yourself and other people in your home or other place designed to house you overnight (like a tent, camper trailer, etc.) from intruders. This bill would further strengthen your right to defend yourself by specifying that if you defend yourself pursuant to 6-2-602, you’re immune from any arrest, detention, charging, citation or prosecution for using defensive force even if you’re wrong in your estimation of the danger or the force necessary to repel the danger as long as there was a reasonable basis for your belief. Under the bill, officers can still investigate the use of defensive force but they can’t arrest you unless they find probable cause that defensive force was not reasonable. The bill also allows a person arrested or prosecuted who believes that he is entitled to immunity under the new statutes created by this bill to file a motion with the court asserting that he used reasonable defensive force and upon the filing of the motion the court must hold a hearing prior to trial and grant the person’s motion unless the party seeking to overcome the immunity proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the person did not use reasonable defensive force under W.S. 6-2-602.

The bill requires a court to award reasonable attorney fees, court costs, compensation for any loss of income and all other expenses incurred by a person in defense of any civil action arising from the person’s use of reasonable force pursuant to W.S. 6-2-602 if the court finds that the defendant is immune from civil action under the statutes proposed by the bill.

The bill also specifies that a person who is not engaged in illegal activity has no duty to retreat from any place where the person is lawfully present before using reasonable defensive force, and that a finder of fact (like a jury) can’t consider the possibility of retreat as a factor in determining whether a person who used reasonable defensive force reasonably believed that the force was necessary to prevent death or serious bodily injury to himself or another. In plain terms: should an innocent and law-abiding victim have a duty to retreat rather than defending himself or another innocent person? No. You have a right to defend your life if it’s threatened, and the state exists to help you protect that right—not to curtail it. This bill supports that fundamental principle.

This year’s HB0168 is very similar to SF0071. The only differences between the two bills at the time of their introduction are as follows: HB00168 uses the language of a “good faith belief” that that defensive force was necessary to prevent an injury or loss to himself or another person, whereas SF0071 uses the term “reasonable belief.” Unlike SF0071, HB00168 also specifies that people who use defensive force in accordance with W.S. 6-2-602 are immune from civil forfeiture action brought by the state of Wyoming—i.e. the state can’t confiscate your gun and refuse to give it back if you lawfully defend yourself. Both bills bolster your right to protect your life, and HB00168 adds protections to your property rights as well.

If both SF0071 and HB0061 make it out of their chambers of origin and cross over, we will determine how to factor legislator votes into our scorecard in a way that doesn’t penalize legislators who choose to support one form of the bill over the other. Until then, both of these bills will be evaluated as supporting our principles and legislator votes will be factored into our scorecard accordingly.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Individual Liberty
  • Limited Government
SupportSF 0077: Agency reporting transparency
Position: Support

Getting “public” information in the state of Wyoming can be a challenge. Currently, most state agencies are required to post a summary of their unbid contracts that includes who got the contract, the date it was awarded, and how much the contract was for. Sometimes the information contained in these reports is vague. If you want more details, you can submit a public records request but agencies aren’t required to get the information to you within a certain amount of time so you may not get it for weeks or months or longer. If you request a large quantity of records electronically, you’ll get charged for the cost of processing time. You could also be told to come to Cheyenne to view the records—not super helpful if you live across the state, especially if it’s wintertime. It can be a slow process to get salary information for public employees, too. The current system isn’t particularly transparent if you’re a concerned citizen trying to exercise your right to oversee your government.

This bill would require the Department of Administration and Information to make “a copy of any request for bids or proposals by an agency for supplies or services or any contract or other agreement entered into by an agency for supplies or services” available on the Wyoming Public Finance and Expenditure of Funds Website. Note: the bill requiring the creation of that website was run in 2009, but the website still doesn’t exist yet. But, the website is required. The term “agency” does not include the University of Wyoming, community college districts or school districts for that portion of the bill, but at least it’s a start. This bill also specifies that state employee information including position classification, rate of compensation, job title, position description and service tenure be posted on the website for public inspection and updated annually. This would apply to employees at the University of Wyoming, any community college in the state, community college districts, school districts, and employees of the executive or judicial branches of government. The bill also requires each state entity participating in the website to provide quarterly reports accounting for all revenues, regardless of source, received by the entity that qualify as public financial information so that the department can make those reports available on the website.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Limited Government
OpposeSF 0078: Opioid addiction task force
Position: Oppose

This bill would create an opioid addiction task force and appropriates $ 60,000 over the next three years. The task force is charged with looking at grants relating to substance abuse education/prevention/treatment made available by the federal government/the state of Wyoming/other organizations, strategies to reduce the administration of opioids including promotion of alternative treatments, and prescriber education relating to opioids amongst other topics. Ah, task forces. There is a time and place for the deployment of a task force. But it’s not on spending tax dollars to create task forces to get involved in things like “educating” prescribers and seeking grants to “prevent” substance abuse, which aren’t the role of government.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Limited Government
OpposeSF 0079: Vertical takeoff and landing aircraft-regulation
Position: Oppose

Sometimes, we see bills pertaining to cutting edge of technology that liberate it from burdensome regulation. Other times, we see bills that regulate new technologies as quickly as possible (sometimes before they even exist. No joke). Take a wild guess which type of bills support free markets, and which do not. Last year’s SF 0170 Unmanned Aircraft pre-emptively mandated 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. That bill passed. That went so well, that we need to find more things to regulate (/sarcasm). Pro tip: if folks ignore this, this trend will continue next year. And the next year. And the year after that… you get the point.

Current law directs the commission to promulgate “reasonable” rules about where unmanned aircraft may take off and land, “giving consideration to public health and safety, aesthetics and the general welfare.” Yep, aesthetics. This bill would direct the commission to do the same thing for vertical takeoff and landing aircraft. The bill also adds vertical takeoff and landing aircraft to the list of things the commission may study for the purpose of “assist[ing] communities in coordinating efforts, facilitating, recruiting and attracting and promoting the development, improvement and retention of commercial air service…” none of which is the proper role of government. For a rant on the free market and air service, see our write up on 2018 SF0040 Commercial air service improvement. But back to SF0079: this bill would also add vertical takeoff and landing aircraft to the statutory provisions on dangerous flight and to the statutes that prohibit landing on somebody’s property without their permission. However, if these particular crafts landing on people’s property illegally is currently an issue it can be addressed without all the other governmental overreach in this bill.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
SupportSF 0092: Electronic logging devices-enforcement
Position: Support

Under current law, the Wyoming Department of Transportation is required to “adopt rules and regulations prescribing the permissible operating time and other requirements of motor carrier drivers, equipment and the transportation of hazardous materials which are consistent with comparable regulations of the United States department of transportation.” The problem with these types of provisions are that sometimes the federal government may adopt rules that aren’t beneficial to or suited for Wyoming. The federal government has promulgated rules requiring electronic logging devices for commercial vehicles. SF0092 would qualify the current statutory requirement that the Wyoming Department of Transportation adopt rules and regs consistent with federal law to specify that our rules should be in accordance with the rules established by the feds before their December 16, 2015 rules, and specifically directs the WY Department of Transportation to look at the Federal Register volume 80:241 page 78292 rules as their guide, i.e. the rules that didn’t have this electronic logging device requirement. The bill also says that: “In Wyoming no officer… shall enforce any rule or regulation for permissible operating time and equipment standards except as provided in this subsection and department rules promulgated according to this subsection.” In plain terms: we will NOT be enforcing federal regulatory overreach with respect to electronic logging devices in our great state of Wyoming, thank you very much.

You might be thinking: didn’t you just support the bill saying Wyoming localities must cooperate with federal officials on immigration enforcement? Here’s the difference: enforcing federal immigration law is the proper role of the federal government. Neither the federal government nor the state government should upset the proper balance of state vs. federal power. The states and the federal government were not set up like the J.V. and Varsity team—they were established as entities with separate duties, each sovereign within their appropriate sphere of governance. We don’t necessarily support the existing provisions requiring the Wyoming Department of Transportation to regulate intrastate commerce in accordance with federal rules and regs at all, but this bill does push back at least in the instance of increasing federal overreach with respect to electronic logging devices, which is a substantive improvement to the existing situation.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • States vs. Federal Balance of Power
SupportSF 0094: Tobacco use nondiscrimination-repeal
Position: Support

Under current law, there is a list of things the state dubs “discriminatory or unfair employment practice” when it comes to hiring folks. One of the things dubbed discriminatory is “For an employer to require as a condition of employment that any employee or prospective employee use or refrain from using tobacco products outside the course of his employment, or otherwise to discriminate against any person in matters of compensation or the terms, conditions or privileges of employment on the basis of use or nonuse of tobacco products outside the course of his employment unless it is a bona fide occupational qualification that a person not use tobacco products outside the workplace.” Side note: under the existing law, employers can still have different health policies for tobacco/non-tobacco users due to the difference in coverage costs. The “free” part of the free market means that employers are free to hire people (or not) based on any criteria they want. Sometimes people will refuse to hire you for reasons you don’t like, but it’s their business – they are the ones who will cut the checks. Using the force of government to violate the liberty of business owners is not the role of government. This bill would eliminate at least one instance of government overreach.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Free Markets
OpposeSF 0100: Economic diversification-broadband services (Sub #1)
Position: Oppose

Ah, government incentivized broadband. A favorite of those who believe that central planning can and should do what the free market won’t. This bill would create a state (i.e. taxpayer) funded broadband development program administered by the Wyoming business council to subsidize broadband infrastructure for “unserved” or “underserved” areas. After all, why use your own funds to finance the infrastructure to expand your broadband service if you can just apply for tax dollars to finance it? But not only does this bill allow localities to subsidize broadband service to unserved areas, under the bill, there can already be a broadband provider servicing an area—and this bill allows local governments to hand out your tax dollars to a potential competitor to come in and provide “better” subsidized service. Level free market playing field? Umm, no. This. Is. Cronyism. The bill specifies that no agreement made under the program may fund more than 50% of the total cost of a project (oh, such restraint in giving our tax dollars away), local governments must provide some funds (so it’s a double tax whammy for people actually in the ‘underserved’ service area!). However, they can also use federal funds and funds from other state grant programs to subsidize their project – it’s a Triple Tax Trifecta! And get this: “No single project shall exceed five million dollars (,000,000.00) in funding provided under this article.” No more than $ 5 million of your tax dollars may be spent on a single project (which may be across the state from you)?! What limited government! (sarcasm.)

Let’s borrow a little excerpt from our write up on SF0040: “Newsflash: if the free market isn’t doing something, it’s because there isn’t enough demand for it (so it’s not a profitable venture). This is the state taking your money by force and using it to pick winners and losers for tax dollar handouts… It’s immoral for the government to take your money just to give it away to other people. Not only that, but although the state would like you to think that it can help “develop” the economy, the state isn’t smarter than the free market. If there isn’t enough demand for a service for the free market to provide it, the state can’t possibly make that service a feasible venture unless it uses your money to subsidize it. On top of that, government interference just makes things worse. When the state gets involved in providing services it competes with private industry, it makes it even harder for businesses to compete in the marketplace and often drives them out. Central planning is the opposite approach to a free market. For thoughts on why the free market is the system most conducive to liberty and human flourishing, attend one of our classes.”

So what exactly is an underserved area, anyway? “(a) In evaluating applications and providing funding under this article, the council shall give highest priority to applications which the council determines are unserved or underserved, as defined by the council through consultation with the broadband advisory council.” This alone should scare you. Passing legislation that has the force of government, backed by a gun, is supposed to be the job of our ELECTED state Representatives and Senators. This bill would put a group of people, who with the exception of the governor are not elected by the people of Wyoming, in charge of setting definitions that will determine how legislation will be interpreted, enacted, and applied. Just say NO to the ever-growing Administrative State.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
  • Fiscal Responsibility
OpposeSF 0102: National teaching certification
Position: Oppose

Currently, state statute requires the Professional Teaching Standards Board to run a program under which school districts reimburse up to 50 teachers or licensed service providers employed by Wyoming school districts for the cost of receiving national certification. Right now, in order to receive funding recipients must have taught in the state of Wyoming for at least 3 years, must have successfully received the national certification, and must agree to mentor at least one other teacher employed in the state of Wyoming through the national certification process. Right now, school districts can apply to the state for an innovative program grant under W.S. 21-22-106(a)(iii) to recover amounts reimbursed to teachers and service providers funded by the program.

This bill would remove the 50 person cap on the number of teachers/service providers funded by the program, remove the requirement that teachers/service providers have completed the requisite 3 years of teaching in the state of Wyoming and the requirement that recipients need to complete the certification process prior to receiving funding. Instead, under the bill recipients must make “timely pays the teacher’s or service provider’s portion of the certification fees and timely completes progress toward certification as required by the program” and “reimburse the program for any certification fee payments made by the program on behalf of the teacher or service provider in the event the teacher or service provider fails to formally withdraw from the process or to submit an entry that can be scored, as determined by the program.”

The bill would move the administration of the program from the hands of the Professional Teaching Standards Board to a nonprofit contracted by the board and expand the scope of the program to allow “professional development and mentoring specific to national certification, along with other activities related to national certification.” The bill would also eliminate the school district authorization to apply for funds via the innovative program grant, and instead authorize the legislature to appropriate funds to implement the program. There’s no fiscal impact noted on this bill now, but mark our words—this is an expansion of the program, and it will lead to the expenditure of more “funds” (i.e. your tax dollars) on this program in the future.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Limited Government
  • Fiscal Responsibility
  • States vs. Federal Balance of Power
OpposeSF 0105: Drug Donation Program Act-expansion
Position: Oppose

Under current law, there is a Drug Donation Program that allows people to donate prescription drugs in their possession to the program. Right now, this program is limited to taking in drugs, and disposing of them properly or (if unopened) making them available to be re-dispensed subject to specified conditions. This bill would add a new government program to the Drug Donation Program that as far as we can see has nothing to do with the original program. The bill directs the Department of Health, who administers the program, to “provide access to computer systems and technical assistance to aid individuals in applying for government and private prescription drug programs and discounts.” The bill authorizes a new part-time position in the Department of Health “for the biennium beginning July 1, 2018 and ending June 30, 2020 to implement the purposes of this act” and directs the department funding for the position in its 2021-2022 budget request. The bill also appropriates $ 65,120 from the general fund to the Department of Health to implement the act from July 1, 2018 until June 30, 2020. Helping people apply for prescription drug programs and discounts is not the role of government.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Limited Government
OpposeSF 0108: Economic diversification and development
Position: Oppose

We interrupt your regularly scheduled legislative oversight to bring you this fairy tale:
Once upon a time, the state decided that it needed to stimulate the economy. In a magnificent act of hubris, the state decided that it could centrally plan the economy to produce outcomes “superior” to the outcomes produced by the free market. But however could the state influence the economy? Why, by picking winners and losers with your tax dollars, of course! So the state developed initiatives and programs…

Enter SF0108. This bill adds to the directives of the Wyoming Business Council (WBC), requiring the council to “employ or contract with persons for purposes of developing new markets and expanding foreign trade efforts, including expanding international markets for Wyoming services, Wyoming agricultural and other products and commodities, and targeted consumer advertising…” Newsflash: developing markets, conducting trade, and advertising are the role of businesses, not the state. The bill also directs the WBC to work with the ENDOW Executive Council to “Develop a strategy to create small regionally located beef processing plants” and to “Market Wyoming grown agricultural products in-state, regionally, nationally and internationally, through market development, trade shows and social media and other media outlets; and (iii) Enhance the council’s website to promote Wyoming grown agricultural products including match making services between key food system partners.” Remember what we just said about the role of businesses vs. the role of the state? But we’re not done. This bill also creates an “agriculture marketing subaccount” in the economic diversification account. (Seriously, is no one listening to our comments about the role of businesses vs. the role of the state?!)

This bill would also expand the ENDOW Executive Council from 15 to 20 members and includes new directives to the council pertaining to career technical education. What is ENDOW? Last year the governor proposed a scheme designed to “stimulate” the economy… by handing out your tax dollars to select industries. That scheme was christened the ENDOW Initiative, and it was presented to the legislature as SF0132 in 2017. You can see our explanation of that bill in 2017 Senate Files on our website. The council created by ENDOW has proposed all sorts of ways to spend your money, including a state-run airline (see our write up of 2018’s SF0040). And now, less than a year after the creation of ENDOW, there is legislation proposing to expand the scope of the program.

Last but not least, the bill makes the following appropriations: $ 400,000 from the general fund to the Wyoming Business Council “to conduct international marketing and trade activities,” and
$ 2,000,000 from the strategic investments and projects account to the agricultural marketing subaccount.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
  • Fiscal Responsibility
OpposeSF 0110: Pari-mutuel events-horse racing account
Position: Oppose

This bill would create the “Horse Racing Industry Development Account,” to be administered by the State Loan and Investment Board. This bill doesn’t currently appropriate taxpayer dollars to the account, but mark our words: these things frequently get appropriations later on down the road. For now, money for the fund will come from transferring money from the existing Pari-Mutuel Commission Operating Account (which comes from money the state takes from the horse racing industry) into a new Pari-Mutuel Reserve Account, and any funds that exceed the anticipated expenses retained in the Pari-Mutuel Reserve Account would flow to the Horse Racing Industry Development Account. Money in the account will be used to “provide grants to counties to promote the development and expansion of the horse racing industry in the state.”

 
Taking money from industries and filtering it through multiple levels of government in order to give it back to them is horrendously inefficient, and simply doesn’t make sense. It’s also not the role of government. Here’s an idea: if the horse racing industry wants to gather up some of their own money from their members to promote horse racing in the state, then go for it. But leave the taxpayer and the government out of it.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
  • Fiscal Responsibility
SupportSF 0111: Property taxation-digital currencies
Position: Support

This bill would exempt virtual currencies (bitcoin etc.) from property tax. As we said in our write up of 2017 HB0103, “Treating money as money… Sounds like the proper role of government to us!”

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Property Rights
  • Limited Government
SupportSF 0112: Retirement center and pioneer home
Position: Support

This bill has died in the Senate, but we think the principles involved in this bill are important. This bill would have allowed the Department of Health to stop operating two nursing homes in the Big Horn Basin upon a finding by the department that the homes do not meet the department’s objectives and the services they provide are “otherwise available or are reasonably expected to be otherwise available in the community served by the institution.” As amended, the bill would have allowed the department to sell the property and facilities to the private sector (or continue to use them for another purpose, or lease them out). Funds from a sale or lease would be directed to the general fund. The state spends over $ 1 million a year running these two nursing homes. According to the bill the Wyoming Retirement Center serves “predominately residents in the Big Horn and a number individuals with mental illness.” However, “the Wyoming Life Resource Center in Lander is the safety net facility responsible for providing services to persons with qualifying mental illness, not the Wyoming retirement center.” Likewise according to the bill, “Today rather than serving a statewide population or caring for those who are without other means of support, the Wyoming pioneer home serves largely as a subsidized assisted living facility generally for residents from Thermopolis and the neighboring counties.” At a time when Wyoming desperately needs to make budget cuts, this bill would have taken a step toward limiting government and reducing spending.

This legislation supports the principles of:

  • Limited Government
  • Fiscal Responsibility
OpposeSF 0113: Community development districts
Position: Oppose

This bill would authorize a municipality to create a “community development district” within its boundaries, and authorize it to perform “improvements” and special local services. The definition of “improvement” given by the bill includes telecommunications upgrades. Another service these districts are authorized to perform by the bill is providing for recreation “by means of parks, including but not limited to playgrounds, golf courses, swimming pools or recreation buildings.” Government does not exist to provide high speed internet and build golf courses with taxpayer dollars. If you want those things, you need to fund them—it is not ok for you to use the ballot box to force your neighbors to pay for recreational services by forming a special district with the authority to tax them for it.

 
To create a new district, 25% of the landowners in the proposed district can submit a petition with a plan for development and the governing body in which the district would be located (county, municipality, city, etc.) would have a hearing and upon their approval can hold an election as to whether to form the new district. If 100% of landowners in the district are on the petition and agree as to who will be the board members of the district, then no election is necessary. The plan for development must describe the purpose, any improvements and/or services (including construction, operation, maintenance, financing), as well as how the new district will make a tax assessment to pay for it for it all. Supposedly, the assessments would stop once the improvements have been made (what about the ongoing maintenance and operating expenses…?) but only after holding yet another election to vote on it. Once approved, the board of the new district “… shall have all powers necessary to implement the plan.” The board will have the power to, among other things, borrow money, assess property owners “in accordance with benefits” that they supposedly would get from the proposed improvements, charge people to use said improvements, acquire or lease property in or even out of the district if it’s for district purposes, create parks, golf courses, swimming pools, recreation buildings, upgrade internet access, etc. The board will have the power to declare assessments upon property owners to pay for improvements they decide to make. If 50% of the landowners being assessed object, then the assessment can’t take place, otherwise you will be conscripted into funding service.

 
So if you are a small shop/building owner on main street, and 51% of your business neighbors decide that everyone needs to “chip in” for improvements that you can’t afford, good luck with that. You’ll either have to find some way to pay up, have your property taken for delinquent taxes, or sell it off under distress – always a fine way to negotiate the highest market value for your property, said no business owner ever. This regime is a government-backed tyranny of the majority. The role of government is to protect the ultimate minority, the individual, not to empower a tyranny of the majority.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Property Rights
  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
OpposeSF 0116: Retirement income security task force-2
Position: Oppose

This bill creates a task force to study and make recommendations concerning “the preparedness of Wyoming residents to retire in a financially secure manner,” the number of people who don’t participate in employer sponsored retirement savings programs, and the establishment of “a state operated, privately operated or jointly operated retirement savings program for private sector employees” who have “limited” or no access to a retirement savings program where they work. The bill appropriates funds for certain members of the task force, although the amount of the appropriation has been changed several times. It should be pretty clear where this wants to go, which would be Wyoming taxpayer funded and run retirement programs for people who have “limited” access to retirement plans from their employer. Wyoming’s own state version of Social Security – because the federal version works so well! This is a task force that has no business existing.

 
The committee will be stacked with a majority of people who will absolutely want to develop a new state run retirement security program (the Co-Chair MUST come from ENDOW, and the committee will include the Dept of Health director, AARP, an non-profit representative, a financial services representative, etc.) Part of the task force’s mandate is to demonstrate how much money this new retirement program will allegedly SAVE Wyoming taxpayers by helping people save for retirement and therefore they will not need to use the state’s social safety net programs. Right. Because the federal version of a retirement savings plan has does such a spectacular job of that as well. If the study needs to go on past 2018, then the joint labor, health and social services interim committee can keep it going.

 
We’re sure that those of you who plan and save for your own retirement all by your lonesome selves, and who run a small business, farm, ranch, or otherwise are in business for yourselves and pay a great deal of money to the federal government for your “self-employment” taxes in addition to trying to save some of your own money won’t mind funding a state redistribution plan to help other people save for their retirement too, right?

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Personal Responsibility
  • Limited Government
OpposeSF 0118: Kickstart Wyoming-economic diversification
Position: Oppose

This bill is stunning (and not in a good way), and it is a page directly out of the crony corporatism playbook. This bill directs the Wyoming Business Council (WBC) to work with the ENDOW Executive Council to “prepare a proposal under which the business council will invest in high growth startup business entities” that are “in priority economic sectors” as determined by the ENDOW Executive Council. I.e. this bill directs the WBC and ENDOW council to devise a plan to take money from citizens across the state of Wyoming and hand them out to ‘worthy’ start up companies. The bill also directs the WBC to administer a “kickstart:Wyoming” program “to provide funding to early stage ventures of Wyoming based entrepreneurs” in amounts ranging from $ 5,000 to $ 50,000. Government should not try to play venture capitalist. It doesn’t have its “own” money to risk (it just gives YOURS away), and it doesn’t care if the deal goes bad (they’ll just get more by taxing you, it’s not like the state will go out of business like a real venture capitalist could.) Redistributing the money the state has collected from its citizens to give away to business start ups that sound like a good idea is an immoral redistribution of your money.

 
The bill also directs the WBC implement the “startup:Wyoming” program in priority economic sectors as determined by (you guessed it!) the ENDOW Executive Council to “Foster connectivity between entrepreneurs, investors and mentors…Provide entrepreneurs with advanced resources to help their business succeed…develop incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces, makerspaces and other unique work spaces and equipment to foster entrepreneurialism” and we could go on. Repeat after us: the role of government is not to try to coordinate private industry. If you really have advanced resources that will help mentor, market, and coach entrepreneurs to success, then what the heck are you doing working for government – you should already be a bazillionaire by now! Yet this bill asserts that the all-powerful government is going to propel businesses to skyrocketing success with all of its entrepreneurial expertise (and your money.) Got it.

 
Last but not least, the bill creates “a small business innovation research matching program” to match federal funds for Wyoming based companies that receive funds under the Federal Small Business Innovation Research and Small Business Technology Transfer programs. The WBC can hand out up to $ 100,000 for a phase I award and up to $ 250,000 for a phase II award. Of course allegedly the fund recipient must repay the money with interest, but what happens if the business goes belly up? Oh well! Unlike real venture capitalists who invest their own money in startups (and therefore are highly incentivized to invest carefully) the state doesn’t care—it was just the taxpayers’ dollars.

 
The bill creates two subaccounts within the Economic Diversification Account:
 the “startup:Wyoming” subaccount and the Wyoming Research and Innovation Subaccount, and appropriates $ 5,000,000 and $ 6,000,000 to each respectively.

 
We have seen this type of program play out in our wayward neighbor to the south, East California, er, Colorado. Their measure of success is how much taxpayer money they give away to businesses each year. They actually BRAG in news headlines about how many millions of dollars they take away from citizens around the state to fund start-ups that sound cool (95% in the Boulder/Front Range area) that may or may not need the money (clue phone, they usually don’t – their best entrepreneurial skill is filling out grant applications) and that may or may not be around in 5 years. Taking tax money from a teacher in Gillette to give to a so-called “entrepreneur” in Cheyenne is NOT the role of the Wyoming state government. For the love of all that is good, we don’t want this state to turn into North Colorado.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
  • Fiscal Responsibility
OpposeSF 0119: Workforce development-priority economic sector program
Position: Oppose

So how do you feel about paying for other company’s employees? That’s what this bill would do. But only if it’s a job that the state, in its infinite wisdom, deems to be a good job of the future. What could possibly go wrong? (for starters, see North vs. South Korea.) This bill is yet another Colorado strategy that is wafting over into Wyoming like nuclear fallout. This bill would establish the Wyoming Workforce Development-Priority Economic Sector Partnership Program and provide funding for certain workforce training programs. The stated goal of the bill is “to meet the training needs of existing businesses in the state and to provide incentives to businesses to locate and expand within the state through government assisted new jobs training.” Newsflash: training business employees is the job of the businesses that employ them—not the job of the state. This bill ludicrously states that “It is the intent of the legislature to provide training funds to train and educate employees, which will result in the production of high wage and high skilled jobs that will increase the earning potential and employment opportunities for Wyoming employees and enhance and diversify the state’s economy.” This bill replaces the free market approach to the economy, which took us from the invention of the telegraph to super computers in our pockets in under 200 years, with the central planning approach to the economy characteristic of North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba. There’s a reason the U.S. is a better place to live. 

 
The new program would dole out funds to “eligible training providers” so they can provide employees “with education and training required for jobs in new or expanding priority economic sector businesses in the state” (emphasis ours). Businesses receiving this state subsidized employee training must prove they are a “priority economic sector business” as defined by the bill, and match the funds received dollar for dollar… but new loans and investments and expenditures for direct project related costs such as new equipment and buildings can count toward the matching funds required. Funding can be up to $ 5,000 for a full time employee, or $ 2,500 for a part time employee, but so as not to constrain state spending too much, the bill provides that “The department may, in exceptional circumstances, consider a higher funding ceiling for jobs that will pay high wages and benefits if the need for higher training costs is documented in the application.”

 
When applying for funding, applicants must include “A business plan containing information that is sufficient for the department to obtain an adequate understanding of the business to be assisted.” Translation: the state probably doesn’t know much about your business, so if you want some money, just make yourself sound good! The bill also directs the Department of Workforce Services to provide employers assistance in accessing workforce and education services outside the scope of this act for which employees may be eligible. As written upon introduction, the bill creates the Wyoming Workforce Development-Priority Economic Sector Partnership Subaccount in the Economic Diversification Account and appropriates $ 5,000,000 to the subaccount.

This legislation opposes the principles of:

  • Free Markets
  • Limited Government
  • Fiscal Responsibility