For those of you new to the Wyoming Legislature and a Budget Session, here are a few rules of the road that might help you find your way.
In a budget session, the only bill that doesn't require a 2/3 introductory vote is the state's budget. The budget bill is run as two "mirror bills" meaning that the same version is introduced in both chambers and worked simultaneously by the House and Senate. You can check out the budget bill here.
Because 2022 is a Constitutionally-mandated redistricting year, the new redistricting map will also be introduced without the 2/3 threshold. You can check out the redistricting bill here.
All other bills require a supermajority vote in their chamber of origin for introduction. That's 40 votes in the House and 20 votes in the Senate.
Because the Wyoming Legislature spends its "off season" or interim working assigned topics, hosting meetings, and working bills in Joint Interim Committees, these bills are the first to come up in the Budget Session. Even with the heavy lifting of the committees from May to December, these bills are still subject to the 2/3 vote threshold. We've already seen a few fail to get the required votes. You can check the list here.
Nonetheless, there are still some committee bills they've passed over in favor of taking up some of the individual bills that have been filed. We've seen anti-prenatal care (individual) bills advance while pro-health insurance (committee) bills are still in the drawer. And we've seen a lot of the (very small number) of women in the legislature run some bills that are really onerous for other women. We'll be digging into that more in a coming post.
For now, here are a few things we have on our radar that you might want on yours:
SF0001 General government appropriations./HB0001 General government appropriations-2. Summary: The budget for the 23-24 biennium. Why it matters: Budgets reflect the values of our state and provide resources for the programs, services, and people we deem most important. This biennium's budget includes resources for departments of Health, Family Services, Workforce Services, and education that matter to women.
SF0051 Fairness in women's sports Summary: Seeks to exclude trans women and girls from sports. Why it matters: Contravenes existing HS Athletics Association's existing policy. Removes local control. Doesn't advance enforcement of Title IX. Questions the humanity of young athletes. Jen wrote about Title IX and this bill this week in the Wyoming Tribune Eagle. (Occasional reminder: Subscribe to your local paper!)
SF0058 Wyoming council for women's issues - workforce services Summary: Moves the Wyoming Council for Women to Department of Workforce Services. Why it matters: DWS also produces educational information about the gender wage gap and women's economic needs making it a good fit for the WCW.
SF0089 Child protection - dangerous drugs. Summary: Considers it a felony child endangerment offense to use drugs while pregnant. Why it matters: Prenatal care is hard to access in Wyoming. Substance abuse is hard to access in Wyoming. Bills like these deter women from accessing prenatal care for fear of ending up in jail. Lack of prenatal care is associated with preterm birth, low birthweight, higher infant mortality, long-term health complications, higher rates of maternal mortality.
HB0020: Medical treatment opportunity act Summary: Expands Medicaid health insurance coverage to an additional 25,000 Wyomingites. Why it matters: Women are disproportionately affected by lack of access to healthcare. Wyoming Department of Health estimates women will be the largest group of enrollees.
HB0085 Child endangering - controlled substance use while pregnant Summary: Creates a new felony offense to use drugs while pregnant. Why it matters: Prenatal care is hard to access in Wyoming. Substance abuse treatment is hard to access in Wyoming. Bills like these deter pregnant women from accessing prenatal care for fear of ending up in jail. Lack of prenatal care is associated with preterm birth, low birthweight, higher infant mortality, long-term health complications, higher rates of maternal mortality.
HB0092 Abortion prohibition - supreme court decision Summary: Seeks to outlaw abortion in Wyoming pending the outcome of the SCOTUS case Jackson v Women's Health. Why it matters: Access to reproductive health care is essential for pregnant women because maternal mortality rates in Wyoming and the US are extremely high so pregnancy comes with significant risks.
Want more information? You can find more bills *plus* more about each bill over on our Legislative Efforts page. We'd also recommend subscribing to the Wyoming Women's Foundation Power Advocates so you can get their Action Alerts. And the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault does excellent daily updates.
Plus, here's a handy map of How A Bill Becomes A Law.