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Legislative leaders say they'll vote against a special session unless it focuses on property tax bill

A man in a black overcoat walks between two buildings as he makes his way toward the Wyoming Capitol.
David Dudley
Wyoming Public Media
A scene from the Capitol

This story is part of our new Quick Hits series. This series will bring you breaking news and short updates from throughout the state.

Lawmakers are weighing the prospect of a special session. In a joint op-ed written on Wednesday, Senate President Ogden Driskill (R, Devils Tower) and House Speaker Albert Sommers (R, Pinedale) said a special session would likely run between eight and ten days. And it would cost the state $35,000 per day.

Driskill and Sommers said the legislators who are pushing for a special session "created delay after delay during the budget session" by "asking for roll calls, trying to resurrect dead bills, bringing procedural motions, and filibustering debate."

"We had plenty of time in our established calendar to pass bills and do veto overrides," the legislative leaders said in the op-ed. "And, in doing so, those lawmakers squandered precious time."

The Freedom Caucus

The legislative leaders were referring to members of the Wyoming Freedom Caucus. In a letter dated March 23rd, caucus members accused lawmakers of adjourning the Legislative budget session "early."

"The decision of legislative readership to adjourn early served as an open invitation to Governor Gordon to veto measures important to the people of Wyoming with no recourse," they wrote in the letter.

They took issue with Gordon's vetoes on bills that would repeal gun-free zones, provide homeowners with a tax exemption, and regulate abortions, among others.

In closing, caucus members said legislative leaders had elevated the Governor "to the position of an empirical king with unilateral, unchecked authority." Then they called for a special session.

The exception

The legislative leaders said in their op-ed that they don't want to see a full-time legislature. They worried that calling for a special session could last two to three weeks, which would "burden legislators, legislative staff, and their families, who are already balancing numerous commitments" in the interim.

Before signing off, Driskill and Sommers said they would potentially be in favor of a special session—if they could focus solely upon Senate File 54, the property tax exemption bill vetoed last week by Gov. Gordon.

Barring that, they said they will vote against returning to Cheyenne for a special session.

This reporting was made possible by a grant from the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, supporting state government coverage in the state. Wyoming Public Media and Jackson Hole Community Radio are partnering to cover state issues both on air and online.

David Dudley is an award-winning journalist who has written for The Guardian, The Christian Science Monitor, High Country News, WyoFile, and the Wyoming Truth, among many others. David was a Guggenheim Crime in America Fellow at John Jay College from 2020-2023. During the past 10 years, David has covered city and state government, business, economics and public safety beats for various publications. He lives in Cheyenne with his family.
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