Wyoming Liberty Group
New Governor + New Legislature = Change
Since the January 3, 2011 inauguration of Governor Matt Mead two weeks ago and the convening of the 2011 Session with its many new legislators, this observer has noted several changes beyond the usual, “what type of bills are being passed and who is being appointed to the executive branch offices.”
My first observation: more reading of constitutions. There are more US and State Constitutions open on legislators’ desks in the first two weeks than I have seen in my previous sixteen years in the Capitol. This is partly because five bills introduced in the first two weeks are related to the balance between states rights versus federal rights.
My second observation: two political philosophies. Two distinct political philosophies among the members in both Chambers are forming. I will call them the older “traditionalists” (old guard) and the younger “conservative constitutionalists” (new guard). Much, but not all, of this distinction is along age lines. As we saw in the elections, there were many more conservative Republicans elected this year than in past years. There were four members in the Senate and ten members in the House. These legislators are clear and articulate and have hit the session running in the first two weeks. Two examples of this group are Senators Larry Hicks and Senator Nutting. Senator Hicks has been called a “freshman but not really,” because he has done lobbying before and has drafted language for a few bills. Senator Nutting has drafted an amendment to the state constitution for health freedom. A bill of this depth and magnitude is not usually attempted as a first bill by a freshman. The bill is good and has moved out of Committee for floor discussion.
My third observation: more liberty issues are making it to the floor. Next is the change of passing liberty bills out of committee that have been killed previously two or three times spanning the last four to six years. This is a direct correlation to the amount of new conservative legislators elected in both Chambers. For example, a health care freedom amendment was passed out of committee in the Senate after failing the past two years. The committee reviewing the bill is made up of four Republicans and one Democratic (another change this years is the fact that so few Democrats were elected that it was impossible to have Democratic representation on all committees).