2020 Legislative Follow-up

Below are a list of some of the bills tracked this session. If there is a particular bill of interest that is not listed, follow the link at the end of the post.

SF0008 – Missing and murdered persons and other events-cooperation

This bill has been signed into law by Governor Gordon. As I have previously mentioned, one of the challenges on the Wind River Reservation is the jurisdictional boundaries between state, local, federal, and tribal authorities. When a crime is reported certain factors play into the determination of which law enforcement agency begins the investigation. The factors include- exact location of the crime, the race of the victim, and the race of the perpetrator.

The new law requires the Division of Criminal Investigation to become a central repository of information regarding missing indigenous persons. It also mandates state agencies to participate with tribal and federal agencies in activating emergency alerts when someone goes missing.

HJ0003 – Supporting federal missing and murdered persons efforts

This legislation was also signed by Governor Gordon. As a resolution, it encourages our federal government to pass several laws relating to missing and murdered indigenous persons. Because the federal government is one of the key players holding jurisdiction, it is important that it commits to seeking the best possible outcomes.

SF0117 – First responder workplace mental injury coverage

Previously, the only way a first responder could qualify for worker’s compensation to cover a mental health injury was if that injury also occurred with a physical injury. The example given in testimony was that a police officer who is being shot at and ends up taking that person’s life would only qualify for mental health treatment if he was hit. This bill allows an individual to qualify for mental health treatment, even if the injury is not accompanied by a physical injury- up to three years after diagnosis. This bill currently awaits the governor’s signature.

SF0037 – Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact

This passed the senate but died in the House as it was never brought for introduction. It would have allowed psychologists from out of state to be able to provide mental healthcare in Wyoming using telehealth. During the session, Wyoming was named the state with the second highest rate of suicide- per capita. While there is not one solution to the problem, ensuring an adequate number of mental health providers is important. Utilizing telehealth also helps those in small communities access healthcare in privacy. As there is still an unfortunate stigma regarding mental health, this would have been a very important step. Hopefully, the bill will come again next year.

HB0113 – Importation of prescription drugs-study

This bill passed both houses and was signed by the governor. It will allow Wyoming to look at ways to drive down prescription drugs costs, including studying foreign drug importation. Note- Unfortunately, the federal government does not allow importation of biological medication. So until something changes at the federal level, this study will exclude medications like insulin.

SF2 an appropriation This session, debate on the floor of both chambers was audio recorded and archived. You can go back and listen to every debate. However, testimony that happened in conference committee rooms was not recorded. This amendment provides funds for putting live-streaming equipment in all of the conference rooms at the Capitol. This is an important step to open up the committee meetings to people around the state, helping people become more engaged and letting them hear real live testimony for themselves.

SF0131 – Human heartbeat protection act  

This bill sought to prevent elective abortions after a detectable fetal heartbeat. The bill passed introduction but was not allowed to be brought up for debate in the Senate Labor/Health Committee and died there.

HB0197 – Abortion-48 hour waiting period

This bill would have required a 48 hour waiting period after a pregnant woman was informed that she had a right to view an ultrasound and, if audible, listen to the heartbeat of her child, and the time she would have an abortion. The bill passed the House, and was assigned to the Senate Labor/Health Committee where is was not heard.

SF0097 – Born alive infant-means of care

The debate on this bill took many twists and turns; important considerations like liability of the parents and the provider. It took an almost Herculean effort to redirect the debate back to the point of the bill, those without a voice. As one legislator told me last week, if the parents or the doctor are inappropriately charged because of legislation, there is a process in place that will help them receive justice. But the injustice against the infant, which this bill addressed, is one from which there is no recourse. For the infant, it is too late. Well said. Passed both the Senate and the House and is now awaiting the governor’s signature.

Mirror amendments were brought to both the House and Senate versions of the budget bill which made appropriations to the University of Wyoming contingent upon not using any of its funds to provide for elective abortions. Both houses passed the amendment and the change was not vetoed by Governor Gordon.

HB0166 – Death penalty repeal

Our 2020 effort to repeal the death penalty failed to reach the 2/3 introduction required during a budget session. It failed by 3 votes.

To see a list of all of the bills brought in 2020, click here . To learn the fate of a bill, and to see vote counts, click on the bill number and then click on the “digest” tab.

Legislative Update 2/21/2020

SF0097 – Born alive infant-means of care passed the Senate Labor Health committee this morning by a vote of 4-1. It will now be put on General File.

HB0197 – Abortion-48 hour waiting period passed House Judiciary committee by a vote of 6-3 Tuesday morning and is on General File. It could be debated in the House this afternoon.

SF0131 – Human heartbeat protection act  has yet to be heard by the Senate Labor/Health committee. If it’s not passed out of this committee by Monday, the bill will time out for this session.

SF0117 – First responder workplace mental injury coverage is on the Senate General File and could be debated on the floor this afternoon.

SF0037 – Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact Has passed 2nd reading and will be up for 3rd reading next week.

New items:

HB0001H2048:Amendment Amended the House Budget bill with the following language:

As a condition of these appropriations, the University of Wyoming shall not expend any general funds, federal funds or other funds under its control for any of the following: (i) Elective abortions for students, except under the circumstances described in W.S. 35-6-117; 11 12 (ii) Group health insurance that provides coverage of elective abortions for students, except under the circumstances described in W.S. 35-6-117.”

This amendment passed 37-23, HOWEVER, 3rd reading Amendment #12 is being brought this afternoon to attempt to reinstate those funds. List of Representatives

HJ0003 – Supporting federal missing and murdered persons efforts– I testified in favor of this resolution yesterday morning. Since I started attending Tribal Relations committee meetings in 2015, I have heard time and again that Freemont County has one of the highest rates of domestic abuse and sexual assault in the nation. It also has a tragically low conviction rate which leads many victims to decide not to report. The jurisdictional boundaries between local, state, federal, and tribal agencies create loopholes in the system whereby jurisdictional responsibilities depend upon the race of the victim, race of the perpetrator and the location of the alleged crime. Jurisdictional boundaries create many other challenges on the Wind River Reservation as well. I told the committee I wish there was a book titled “Understanding Jurisdictional Issues for Dummies.” Because I would buy that book and read it twice. Until then, we need a commitment from the federal government to address this issue. That is what this resolution seeks to encourage.

As paragraph 48 of Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship states:

The principle of subsidiarity reminds us that larger institutions in society should not overwhelm or interfere with smaller or local institutions, yet larger institutions have essential responsibilities when the more local institutions cannot adequately protect human dignity, meet human needs, and advance the common good (Centesimus Annus, no. 48; Dignitatis Humanae, nos. 4-6).

SF0008 – Missing and murdered persons and other events-cooperation– seeks to address as much of the problem as it can at the state level by mandating Division of Criminal Investigation to create a database on missing and murdered indigenous persons, ensure the dissemination of criminal information to tribal law enforcement agencies and facilitate better cooperation among all of the agencies. As the original sponsor of the bill says, “this is just a start.” But it is an important one.   

HB0113 – Importation of prescription drugs-study– This bill is looking at a study to import prescription medications to lower costs. It passed the House Labor Health committee today by a vote of 9-0 and is now on the General File.

For an entire list of the bills and their status, click here.

Below are just a few of the bills of interest that are still alive this week.

SF0002 – Legislative budget

SF0097 – Born alive infant-means of care

HB0197 – Abortion-48 hour waiting period

SF0131 – Human heartbeat protection act  

HB0010 – Human trafficking-penalty for subsequent conviction

HB0026 – Tribal ID for voting

HB0046 – Special education funding

HB0048 – Voyeurism-amendments

 HB0098 – Defend the Guard Act

HB0108 – Ban on sanctuary cities and counties

HB0120 – CHIP-state administration

HB0123 – Pharmacists prescribing contraceptives

HB0127 – Prohibition of female genital mutilation

HB0144 – Minimum wage

HB0152 – Student hazing

HB0210 – Modifying termination of parental rights requirements

HB0212 – Select committee on tribal relations

SF0008 – Missing and murdered persons and other events-cooperation

SF0010 – Warrants for digital records

SF0079 – School safety and security

SF0117 – First responder workplace mental injury coverage