Wyoming Liberty Group

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Deflating the Myths Behind Citizens United Part 2: The Quality of Sovereignty

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.

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Taxpayer Funded Lobbying in Wyoming

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.

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Montana Faces Challenge to Unconstitutional Election law

By Anthony McConnell

A Montana group is taking the lead in overturning that state’s anti-free speech election law.

Western Tradition Partnership and a small painting business have joined forces to bring Montana into compliance with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which cited the Wyoming Liberty Group’s brief filed in the case. The court ruled that the FEC could not limit independent spending by corporations on elections.

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Dual Sovereignty

By Vern Cox

The Founders of our nations were gravely concerned about that the power of government should not become concentrated in one or a few persons or one in branch of government. They were also acutely aware, because of the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation, that certain powers must be given to a national government. In their wisdom, they devised a plan of government that was new and unique to our nation. That form of government is called "dual sovereignty."

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Medicaid Expansion and its Repercussions for Wyoming

According to the annual fiscal report from National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO) Wyoming received $257 million in federal Medicaid funds in 2008. The Census Bureau reports that 57,000 or eleven percent of all Wyoming residents were enrolled in Medicaid that same year. This means that the federal government paid Wyoming an average of $5,263 per Medicaid enrollee.

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Health Care Freedom Amendment Dies in Senate

By Anthony McConnell

After being introduced in the Wyoming Senate Tuesday morning the Health Care Freedom Amendment failed 18 to 12, just two votes short of the two-thirds majority needed to be introduced to committee.

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Trying to Save the Unsalvageable

On December 9, 2009, U.S. Sens. Kent Conrad and Judd Gregg introduced a bill to create a “Bipartisan Task Force for Responsible Fiscal Action.” The goal is to provide “a bipartisan solution” to “a perfect storm of exploding debt, brought on by rising health costs, a retiring baby boom generation, and an outdated and inefficient revenue system.”

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