After a late night debate, the Wyoming House of Representatives gave initial support for a controversial bill that intends to punish people who damage or tamper with infrastructure such as pipelines or oil and gas facilities. The House amended the measure to narrow what would be declared a felony and reduced the fine for someone convicted, down from $1 million to $100,000.
But several legislators who are ranchers expressed concern that they could inadvertently be accused of violating the law. Others were upset that the bill reached the House Floor after a committee member was convinced to change his no vote. Cheyenne Democrat Jim Byrd urged people to oppose the bill for that reason alone.
“It failed every single test of the rules that we hold sacred and dear to this body and we are still debating it right now. Gut check time now people. If you hold any of those principals true, you need to give this a no vote,” Byrd said.
Others claimed the bill violated first amendment protest rights, but bill supporters say the legislation is only trying to address those who block access to something like a pipeline. The bill will be debated two more times.