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Reports on Wyoming State Government Activity

Randy Fetzer: Speaker of bills for the Wyoming Senate

A man wearing a suit sits behind a looming wooden desk.
Chris Clements
Wyoming Public Media
Randy Fetzer sits at his desk at the front of the Senate floor.

It’s been about a month since this year's legislative budget session ended, but Randy Fetzer settled back into his seat at the front of the Senate chambers like it was still underway.

“This is my view of the [Senate] class,” said Fetzer. “It's just spectacular. It looks very funny for me to see [my] desk cleared.”

As the Senate reading clerk, he’s in the spotlight while reading out bills to dozens of Wyoming’s most powerful political figures.

“Endurance gets really challenging,” Fetzer said. “When the days get long, the chair gets really, really uncomfortable. And for those of us here, especially the assistant chief clerk, and for me, we can't get up and move around at all during the time that we're gaveled in.”

But Fetzer’s job is purely as support staff, not as a decision-maker.

He keeps his thoughts and opinions about ongoing proceedings to himself.

As a reading clerk, he reads every bill number, title, sponsor and enacting clause for legislation introduced in the Senate, often several times.

A man walks on a red carpeted floor holding a hat. A long wooden desk with an American flag behind it is to his right.
Chris Clements
Wyoming Public Media
Randy Fetzer walks through the Senate chamber in Cheyenne.

For the last nine years, Fetzer has worked part-time as a reading clerk in Cheyenne. As he can attest, clerks must adapt to fast-paced, constantly changing circumstances.

He’s often handed a bill jacket relating to subjects like carbon capture or abortion regulations, or even a letter from Gov. Mark Gordon.

“So those are completely cold reads at that point,” Fetzer said. “And I can sometimes get lost and forget which direction something's going. It can move quickly sometimes.”

Then, he’s got to fire off the information to lawmakers with expeditious speed, while remembering to enunciate clearly and use good diction.

Anyone who’s sat in the Senate gallery and observed legislators as they debate, decry and defend bills has almost certainly heard Fetzer’s voice guiding the way.

Fetzer is well-known around the Capitol for having a mellifluous vocal style.

He was a radio host and news reporter for years in Colorado. And after retiring from teaching English at Laramie County Community College, he’s landed himself a gig here, in the Wyoming Legislature.

“One of my best friends on the Senate session staff just gives me constant heartache about people tuning in because I'm talking,” Fetzer said. “ I tell everybody, ‘Don't listen to what Dick says.’”

To him, the admiration of his vocal abilities is reminiscent of a line from a play by Shakespeare.

“It's a comedic line,” Fetzer said. “One of the characters, when he misunderstands some things that are being said, looks back at the person giving him heartache and says, ‘Ah, it's the gifts God gives.’ But really, that's just it. It's just my voice.”

The attitude Fetzer tries to keep when working around so many politicians is simple: “Do the best possible read to help the Senators do their job. Try not to make a mistake.”

A man opens a door. The door says Joint Appropriations Committee on it.
Chris Clements
Wyoming Public Media
Randy Fetzer opens the door to the Joint Appropriations Committee room.

For the rest of the year, Fetzer enjoys singing as a bass in the local choir and visiting microbreweries throughout the state.

According to him, it’s much more relaxing than this part-time gig – but he says he has no plans to quit anytime soon.

Reporters, lawmakers and citizens will continue to hear his voice echoing through the Senate chambers.

Chris Clements is a state government reporter and digital media specialist for Wyoming Public Media based in Laramie. He came to WPM from KSJD Radio in Cortez, Colorado, where he reported on Indigenous affairs, drought, and local politics in the Four Corners region. Before that, he graduated with a degree in English (Creative Writing) from Arizona State University. Chris's news stories have been featured on KUNC, NPR newscasts, and National Native News, among others.
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