Wyoming Liberty Group
Late Thursday President Obama signed a memorandum directing hospitals that accept Medicaid and Medicare funds must recognize a patient’s designated partner for visitation and consultation rights. Whatever side of our nation’s continuing debate over same sex marriages you may fall on, the continued proclivity of American presidents to use executive orders and presidential memoranda to settle controversial issues and run roughshod over the Constitution remains a repugnant practice in civil society.
In early February, Americans gather about to watch whether groundhogs see their shadows and get scared or gleefully prance into the year ahead. Just like groundhogs, somewhere along our journey in life, we all have shadows to face. Something amazing happens when we see those shadows for what they are and defeat the fear surrounding them.
Obamacare is now a reality. Wyoming’s families and businesses will now be subjugated into compliance with a massive change to our health care system, the magnitude of which supersedes that of Medicare and Medicaid combined. As Medicaid expands and the public option pushes private insurance out of the way, reimbursements for medical practitioners will fall to Medicaid-Medicare levels across the board. As the smallest health insurance market in the country, we will quickly be gobbled up by government-run health insurance. Like the first in a row of 50 domino bricks, the state of Wyoming will be the first to fall under the federal government’s pressure to socialize health care.
In my next set of blog entries, I’ll be discussing the fallout of the Supreme Court’s opinion in Citizens United. A national confusion has arisen over the meaning of the case and its role, positive or negative, in our democratic process. Amidst many shouting voices, some historic truths have been overlooked.
By Anthony McConnell
Since their invention, firearms have played a major role when individuals have sought to establish their independence. Just as our forefathers used firearms to tame the West and carve out a place far from the reaches of tyranny, so now the Wyoming Legislature is planning to use them to defend Wyoming’s sovereignty — though in a much less violent way.
Today, much of the popular press coverage of Citizens United focuses not on the victory for freedom at hand, but on a calculated campaign to inspire fear and doubt about trusting people with freedom. The self-styled reform crowd in Washington beats proudly a drum of panic — instilling the message that if more people speak, American democracy itself is doomed.
by Anthony McConnell
The term “lobbying” conjures all kinds of images — backroom deals, large corporations spending millions to influence the legislative process and Washington fat cats lining their pockets, but what few realize it that one of the largest lobbying powers is the government itself.
Government on government or “taxpayer funded lobbying” is a growing and often overlooked aspect of lobbying, according to a recent study by the Pacific Research Institute, which ranked Wyoming at the bottom of the heap along with West Virginia and New Hampshire in lobbying disclosure laws. Wyoming earned this ranking mainly because of a law that exempts all government officials from having to disclose information about their lobbying practices and its “sparse requirement for disclosure” of all people lobbying the state government.
While private sector lobbyists must report their spending and register with the state, government officials, such as city council members, county commissioners, school board members, do not have to have to follow the same rules. This means there is a lack of accountability and transparency when it comes to tax dollars being used for lobbying.
This exemption is apparently not enough because several governmental entities employ professional lobbyists in addition to their members direct lobbying activities. Of the more than 350 lobbyists registered with the state more than 60 represent either governing bodies, government agencies or government funded groups such as, the Wyoming Association of Municipalities whose members include 99 incorporated towns and cities in the state, Wyoming Association of County Officials, Wyoming Association of Conservation Districts, Wyoming Association of School Administrators and the Wyoming Association of School Boards — all of which receive dues paid for by tax dollars.
For some this still isn’t enough lobbying power. For example, the Town of Jackson Hole and the Jackson Hole Airport, a tax supported facility, both employ two professional lobbyists. Professional lobbyist fees range few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars.
The study concluded that even in the states that ranked high on the list such as Connecticut and Indiana there is still a great deal of improvement needed in the level of transparency when it comes to taxpayer funded lobbying. States like Wyoming that have exemptions for lobbying government by officials need to revamp their laws to require government officials to register as lobbyists and disclose how much in tax dollars is being spent on lobbying efforts.
After all, the more transparent the government the more accountable it is to the people.