We got a week-end legislative update from a statewide partner. She titled her org's update: This Week Sucked.
Yup. Yup, it did.
We're sorry to be coming to you, already at the end of week three of the 67th Wyoming Legislature General Session, with mostly bad news. (Jen generally jokes that her business card lists her title as Bearer of Bad News.)
We're long overdue for a legislative update so let's just dive right in.
Let's start with the bright spots! There are some bright spots! (A few. We cling to them...) Here are a handful of good bills with some positive momentum:
They've had good earned media if you want to learn more (and support your local newspaper and public media outlet!):
Medicaid expansion waits in the wings by Jasmine Hall, Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Hardworking Wyomingites deserve access to health care op-ed by Tania Malone, Wyoming Tribune Eagle
HB 4 would ensure better health of moms and their babies op-ed by Sara Deur, Wyoming Tribune Eagle
Wyoming lawmakers move to extend Medicaid postpartum care by Aedan Hannon, Casper Star Tribune
Wyoming looks to crack down on violence against health care workers by Maya Shimizu Harris, Casper Star Tribune
State could soon have a “plan of safe care” for newborns born into a situation where there is addiction or drug misuse by Kamila Kudeska, Wyoming Public Media
Two bills related to the Indian Child Welfare Act move forward by Kamila Kudeska, Wyoming Public Media
Pandemic highlighted holes in early childhood services such as child care but a new bill would address that by Kamila Kudeska, Wyoming Public Media [NOTE! WWAN co-founder and VP of the Wyoming County Commissioners Association, Natalia Macker, is interviewed in this piece. Be sure to read it!]
And. Now. On to all the bads. Real bad. Real, real bad.
Looking ahead to Monday morning at 7:30am, pick your (literal) poison.
You can attend (and OPPOSE) anti-trans (and deeply misogynistic) legislation in Senate Education. SF0133 Student eligibility in interscholastic sports. Reach out to your Senator, reach out to every Senator on the Committee. OPPOSE THIS BILL.
You can attend (and OPPOSE) deeply flawed legislation that endangers lives (while doing nothing to protect prenates, neonates, and babies) in House Judiciary. HB0152 - Life is a Human Right Act. Once again, reach out to your Representative, reach out to every Representative on the Committee. OPPOSE THIS BILL.
But wait! There's more!
That is, by no means, all of the bad. Here are a handful of bad bills. We highlight these because they are moving quickly through the body. Blink and you'll miss them. By then, they'll have hit the Gov's desk for his signature.
SF0111 Child Abuse-sex change. S Labor, Health & Social Services Committee heard this bill Friday, watch here. SF0117 Parental Rights in Education. Wyoming's version of Florida's "Don't Say Gay" bill cruised through committee and ran through the Senate. Introduced in the House. TBD where it is going and when, we'll keep you posted. SF0109 Prohibit Chemical Abortions . Just like SF117, this faced little resistance (the one medical professional in the body tried to alert his colleagues to the disaster and deaths that await should this pass. Those entreaties went unheeded). Passed the Senate and moved on to the House.
SF0120 Restoration of Civil Rights. While we're absolutely supportive of the restoration of voting rights, we are absolutely opposed to the restoration of gun rights for domestic abusers. Did you know that homicide is the most frequent cause of death for pregnant women? Did you know that Wyoming was #3 in the U.S. for homicide rate when Men Kill Women? Did you know that domestic abuse is one of the most reliable indicators for later mass violence? Our colleagues at the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault also shared these data sets:
Giffords Law Center - Policy Center
America’s Uniquely Lethal Intimate Partner Violence Problem
There were also problems grafted onto good bills. Here are two examples:
HB0080 Medical treatment opportunity act - Medicaid reform. Great bill, would provide health insurance to 19,000 Wyomingites who find themselves in the so-called coverage gap. In committee, members added an amendment with gratuitous anti-trans language.
HB0034 School finance - mental health services. Great bill, provides mental health support in a K-12 setting. On the floor, members opted to add amendments with gratuitous anti-trans and anti-abortion language in them.
Why does this matter? It matters for a couple of reasons.
First, adding bad amendments into good bills is a way to try to make the bill so unpalatable to even its supporters that it can't be passed. We call it a "poison pill."
Second, because it is happening in good bills, little kernels of hate are being seeded in places where the average observer might not notice them. You have to be watching all the time. The vigilance alone is exhausting.
Third, it is part of an effort to get us to leave some people behind. We saw this so much with the elderly and disabled during the pandemic. "Sure, they died of COVID, but they were old or had pre-existing conditions." The subtext became that some deaths were more valid than others. And, in the process, we left the elderly and disabled to fend for themselves. Now, we're seeing it with anti-trans legislation. "So, we know you'll leave disabled people behind. What about trans people? Yes? Great, after this, we'll move on to someone else."
You've heard us say this before: If you throw in with fascists, everyone ends up in the woodchipper eventually. You think that just because they're not loading you in *now* that they won't ever. But what you've established when you say, "We don't care about some people," is that they can keep testing until they get to you.
Here's what we would recommend: Take care of yourself. Take care of the people around you. Don't compromise your core values. Take a minute to reach out to your Reps and Senators and tell them you stand firm for Wyoming and for the equality this state promises. That promise extends to everyone. Tell them to defeat the bad bills, defeat the hate.
And if they don't, we'll vote them out.
We'll be back next week with another update.