Wyoming Liberty Group
SHERIDAN, WY – Wyoming Liberty Group attorney Steve Klein testified before the Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee today at their first meeting before the 2015 Legislative Session. Klein testified in favor of changes to the Wyoming Election Code that relate to collecting signatures for ballot petitions.
On May 13, I gave short testimony about the problems with civil forfeiture in Wyoming at the Joint Judiciary Committee meeting in Rawlins. The Legislative Service Office is preparing two potential committee bills for the committee to consider at its next meeting in July in Newcastle. The first bill, if it is adopted by the committee and passes the Legislature, will end civil forfeiture in Wyoming and replace it with a criminal forfeiture system; the other will provide comprehensive reporting requirements for forfeiture practice. The first bill is exactly how the justice system should work, ensuring that proceeds of crimes are taken from criminals without significantly endangering the property rights of law-abiding citizens. The second bill, which could serve as an alternative or supplement to the first, will at least provide the public with a full accounting of forfeiture in Wyoming. This is very important, because the current law requires very little reporting, and those reports have not been filed by the Attorney General since 1998.
- Start by taking government out of the equation.
Fallout from legislation passed in 2013 commonly known as SF104, which removed most of the duties of the elected State Superintendent of Public Education and was later ruled unconstitutional by Wyoming’s Supreme Court, has legislators wondering what to do about the governance of the state’s education system. Discussion during a recent Wyoming Joint Education Committee meeting indicates that maybe, instead of looking for ways to further centralize and make the system more accountable to government, it is time to decentralize and return accountability to where it belongs: to parents and teachers.
In 2010, the website PolitiFact called Republican claims that Obamacare is a “government takeover” of healthcare the “Lie of the Year.” Last year, PolitiFact gave the title to President Obama’s claim that under Obamacare “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it.” Obviously, PolitiFact’s authority over what constitutes a “lie” is questionable given the contradiction between these two awards, and the website is subject to the same scrutiny we give everyone who speaks out about politics. But what if government gets to decide what constitutes “false” speech in politics and punish the “liars”?
CHEYENNE – Wyoming Liberty Group attorneys delivered a letter to the Wyoming Secretary of State and Attorney General today, asking them to immediately cease enforcement of a provision of the Wyoming Election Code that limits aggregate political contributions in state elections to $25,000. The letter follows a decision by the United States Supreme Court last week, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which overturned the aggregate contribution limit in federal law as an unconstitutional abridgement of free speech.
Local elected officials are often asked to vote for or against a private landowner’s application to build something on private property. Respect for private property rights means that an official should start with the presumption that she or he will vote to approve the application, despite pleas to deny the application from nearby landowners or residents. This default position is based on the fact that although neighbors have some right to influence land use on nearby property, those rights are specific and limited. Two permit applications—one recently submitted to the Laramie County Commission and the other to the Natrona County Planning and Zoning Commission—illustrate how elected officials must differentiate between an individual’s property rights and the protection of the property rights of neighbors. The aesthetic concerns expressed by homeowners in Laramie County are in sharp contrast to the concerns by residents living near a proposed industrial tank farm in Natrona County.
Last month, Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael filed an excellent gun rights brief with the United States Supreme Court. Since the AG filed the brief on February 12, just after the beginning of the 2014 Budget Session, I regretfully did not notice it. (From a quick search, it does not appear local media picked up on it, either, although the Associated Press put out an article that Fox News published.)