Whew. That was a long one. Friday was like a whole week in itself.
The budget process wrapped up on the floor of the House and the Senate. On 2nd reading we saw 55 House amendments and 48 on 3rd reading. Over in the Senate there were 39 amendments on 2nd and 27 on 3rd. (That's 169 budget amendments for those of you keeping score at home.)
Needless to say, we were a teensy bit tired by the time it all wrapped just after 7pm on Friday. So, let's dig in. What all happened? (And did it really all happen Friday? Yes. Yes it did.)
A mirror amendment to the budget proposed to eliminate funding for gender and women's studies and all extracurricular programs was ruled not germane to the budget and withdrawn in the House but adopted by a 16-14 vote in the Senate. We'll have *a lot* more to say about the debate, the outcome, and next steps in a separate post.
The gender studies funding measures were budget amendments. It is really important to make the distinction between a bill and a budget amendment because:
Bills go through a committee hearing and debate process that the public can participate in, budget amendments do not. There is some good information on it in this piece.
They are not supposed to legislate in the budget. That's why the mirror amendment was ruled not germane in the House: there is no specific appropriation in the budget for the gender studies program so this was considered legislating.
It runs counter to the Wyoming Constitution to legislate through the budget. So we heard lots of objections in both chambers suggesting that certain "budget" amendments were not really about the budget but clear attempts to legislate.
After HB0020 Medical treatment opportunity act failed to be introduced a week ago, some enterprising legislators worked to bring Medicaid expansion amendments on 2nd and 3rd reading. The argument was that Medicaid is already in the budget and therefore totally appropriate for the amendment process. Expanding an existing program is a thing that the legislature does all the time--through the budgeting process.
There were three debates on the rules to determine whether or not to debate about expanding Medicaid. Ultimately, there was only one debate on the concept itself. That was Friday on the floor of the Senate. Though there was a lot of misinformation and the effort was unsuccessful, there were some really stunning moments. Of clarity, of compassion. Powerful personal stories.
Other bills we're tracking are listed below.
Three bills that address the military and are continuing to move through the legislature (SUPPORT!):
HB0053 Military department-discrimination or harassment grievances addressing sexual misconduct and gender discrimination complaints within the military
SF0045 Military department-annual report includes the addition of tracking sexual misconduct and gender discrimination complaints in the military
HB0016 Military assistance trust fund-authorized uses would allow members of the national guard to use funds for childcare
Two bills we like (that are still moving!) that would make higher education more affordable and accessible (SUPPORT!):
Other bills we're watching--with great concern (OPPOSE!):
HB0085 Child endangering - controlled substance use while pregnant which creates a new class of felonies for pregnant women who use methamphetamines or Schedule I or II narcotics during pregnancy without a prescription. Bills like these deter pregnant women from accessing prenatal care and have been taken off the books in other states for that reason.
SF0051 Fairness in women's sports claims to protect women and girls in sports, yet contravenes existing Wyoming HS Athletics Association's existing policy, removes local control, doesn't advance enforcement of Title IX, and is punitive toward trans girls and women who want to participate in sports.
Want to help? Reach out to your legislators! Ask them to support (or oppose) the bills listed above.