Wyoming Liberty Group
In the 2015 Wyoming General Session, a bill to limit use of drones—or unmanned aerial surveillance—by the law enforcement failed in the Senate Judiciary Committee after passing the House. The bill was sponsored by the Joint Judiciary Committee following the 2014-15 interim, but underwent amendments on its journey through the legislature that ultimately kept it from going before the Senate. In its original format, the bill would have required police to get a warrant before using drones to conduct searches in criminal investigations. The bill was not considered in the recent 2016 Budget Session, but the topic is certainly not going away.
More fretting has begun about just what Merrick Garland would mean for the United States if confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice. But in focusing too strongly on one unlikely nominee, Garland, we may forget what a new Justice may mean for political free speech and association.
With adverse changes to the state’s economy, the 2016 Wyoming Budget Session lived up to its name far more than it did throughout the mini-boom of the last half decade. Nevertheless, the Legislature considered some important non-budget items. One short bill, Senate File 35, died a quick death on third reading in the Senate, with a final vote of 14-16. SF35 would have removed the provision in Wyoming law that prohibits paying ballot petition circulators for each signature they collect. (Last year, I mistakenly believed that this provision was removed in an omnibus reform to the initiative and referenda process.)
Wyoming citizens face a new threat from the State Legislature. However this threat is not a new tax proposal or another attempt to further regulate daily life. Rather, this threat is a power grab by legislative leadership to further concentrate power over the legislature in the hands of the top legislative offices. This will shift even more control over the rank and file lawmakers from Wyoming voters to micromanaging legislative leaders.
In an interview with Dustin Bleizeffer in WyoFile, former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson has a lot on his mind, particularly, according to the article’s title, “money in politics.” Indeed, in the last year Sen. Simpson has appeared on money in politics panels, published articles on campaign finance in magazines like Time, and is part of Issue One’s “ReFormers Caucus.” One would hope, then, that Sen. Simpson would have insights into the current state of campaign finance law. Alas, Sen. Simpson uses “money in politics” as rhetoric to simply rail against politics.
Almost three years ago, amidst the debacle over the notorious Senate File 104 (2013) which removed most of then-Superintendent Cindy Hill’s powers and reassigned them to an appointee of the governor, Hill sent a silly threat letter to certain legislators alleging defamation. Nothing ever came of it. The episode is but a footnote in a saga that ended with an important decision from the Wyoming Supreme Court overturning SF104. However, as reported in the Casper Star Tribune, Hill—again represented by attorney Robert DiLorenzo—recently went so far as to file a defamation lawsuit against state Representative Tim Stubson, who is also a candidate in the race to succeed Rep. Cynthia Lummis in the United States House.