Wyoming Liberty Group
The Cheyenne City Council’s decision about allowing a retail liquor license owner to sell his license to Cheyenne’s Sam’s Club is about more than liquor policy. It is really a referendum on whether Cheyenne is open to business. Perhaps not. The Council Finance Committee recommends that the Council block the sale. This is a signal to investors that the City is willing to flex its muscle to protect favored locals at the expense of outside investors.
Throughout the debate to expand Medicaid during the 2015 Legislative Session, opponents repeatedly claimed that the federal government couldn’t be trusted to keep its promise to cover 90 percent of Medicaid Expansion’s costs. So it should come as no surprise that the Obama Administration has now broached the idea of reneging on its existing financial promises. In a letter to the Deputy Secretary of Medicaid in Florida, the head of the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (or CMS) threatened to withhold funding to a Medicaid pilot program in the Sunshine State unless it expanded Medicaid. If successful, the federal government would have found a way to undermine the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision on Medicaid Expansion and foist a federal program that delivers woefully inferior healthcare onto millions more patients.
On the day before April Fool’s Day, Armstrong v. Exceptional Child Center buried any illusion that Medicaid Expansion will improve access to health care. In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court barred doctors, dentists and pharmacists from suing states for allegedly curtailing reimbursements for care they provide to Medicaid patients. Although the ruling doesn’t directly impact Medicaid’s promise to provide quality care for the poor, fulfilling that promise requires a wide and accessible network of physicians. By this metric, Medicaid hasn’t fulfilled its pledge for years and the Supreme Court just made it official.
The Legislative Service Office continues to post bills that will be introduced next month when the Wyoming Legislature convenes for the 2015 General Session. Recent appearances include some proposed joint resolutions. On the House side so far there is a proposed amendment to the Wyoming Constitution that would make the Wyoming superintendent of schools an appointed position. Although this is the legitimate way to enact the notorious Senate File 104 (2013) following the Powers v. Wyoming case, it is likely to be met with controversy almost equaling the original SF104 effort. Perhaps controversial, but more uplifting is House Joint Resolution 1, “Regulation Freedom.”
When the Environmental Protection Agency decided to go after Andy Johnson, they probably did not believe they were throwing a rock at a hornet’s nest. Since the story broke last week that the EPA is threatening Johnson, a welder who lives with his family on an 8-acre plot near Fort Bridger, with $75,000 a day in fines for constructing a pond on his property that is supplied by a small creek, the uproar has gone nationwide. As Johnson points out, if his pond—a pristine home to wild fish and source of clean water for his horses—is in any way a hazard to the environment, what isn’t?
In my first installment on state spending I reported that during the recession states have grown notably more dependent on the federal government. In 2008, the states got just over 26 percent of all their revenue from federal funds; in 2013 the National Association of State Budget Officers estimates that 31 percent of states’ spending is paid for by the federal government.