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Reports on Wyoming State Government Activity

Lawmakers begin work on new bills after voting against special session

Lawmakers at their desks in the House of Representatives
David Dudley - Wyoming Public Media
Mike Yin (center) in a whirlwind of activity on Wyoming Legislature's House Floor, 2024

Lawmakers packed the Capitol's historic courtroom Monday to consider possible interim issues ranging from artificial intelligence's impacts on society to abortion access, water to the affordable housing shortage.

Various committees will grapple with aspects of each of those topics, among many others, as they build, vet and draft proposed legislation between now and the Legislature's general session in January.

For Rep. Mike Yin (D-Jackson), affordable housing is on the top of his priorities list.

"Housing is super important in my community," said Yin. "When I talk about those values of being able to raise a family in Wyoming, it's getting harder and harder."

While Yin says he's optimistic about the future of housing, he finds new limits on abortion access in the state especially troubling.

"We've passed laws that criminalize doctors that do those kinds of things," Yin said. "So, that makes it that much harder to have a baby in Wyoming, if we can't have doctors who are willing to live in Wyoming."

At a time when hospitals around Wyoming are struggling to recruit health care workers, including doctors and nurses, Yin said that those kinds of laws will only make it harder to fill those positions.

While the majority of lawmakers rallied behind property tax relief during the budget session, laws around abortion access remain contentious between—and within—parties.

"I'm glad that we have that topic," Yin added. "But I worry that that topic may not be solvable, as long as the party platform pushes for abortion to be completely outlawed in the state."

The meeting comes on the heels of last weekend’s failed vote to hold a special session. While the House of Representatives voted against it—27 ayes to 35 noes—the Senate voted for the special session by a count of 16 ayes to 15 noes.

Members of the Wyoming Freedom Caucus shared an op-ed with members of the media Monday. In the letter, they cited a number of Gov. Mark Gordon's vetoes as the reason they pushed for a special session.

Specifically, Gordon vetoed a property tax bill that would have given Wyomingites an across-the-board property tax cut of 25 percent off their home's value. Gordon vetoed a gun bill that would have made it legal to carry concealed weapons in public schools, hospitals and governmental meetings. And he vetoed an abortion billthat would have shuttered the only clinic that provides procedural abortions in Wyoming.

In the letter, which is credited to Reps. Jeremy Haroldson (R-Wheatland), Chris Knapp (R-Gillette), and Rachel Rodriguez-Williams (R-Cody), its authors said that the clinic is an unregulated "abortion mill" that "operates with impunity."

Lawmakers will continue to develop new legislation during the next 10 months.

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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