Monday, March 16, 2015

Introducing our Public Education & Outreach Coordinator

Greetings! My name is Melanie Vigil and I am the new Public Education and Outreach Coordinator for the ACLU of Wyoming.

Coming from the small town of Lander, WY, I graduated from the University of Wyoming with a Bachelor of Arts in Gender and Women’s Studies and Global and Area Studies. I am also slowly working towards a master’s degree in Public Administration, and I was recently appointed to the Wyoming State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

My family has lived and worked in the State of Wyoming for several generations. As an out lesbian living in this state, I see the need for not only nondiscrimination legislation for LGBT people, but a need for public education on the issue of discrimination, as well. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people should not be fired from their jobs, or otherwise discriminated against, for simply being who they are. 

The ACLU has taken a strong stance in support of nondiscrimination protections for LGBT individuals, which is why I am so proud to work for and represent the organization. The ACLU of Wyoming has acknowledged the need for public education on this issue in Wyoming, and has worked tirelessly to make my position a reality. As the Public Education and Outreach Coordinator, I will be teaming up with our friends at Wyoming Equality traveling across Wyoming holding town halls, doing presentations, and facilitating discussions surrounding LGBT discrimination in the state.

Since the recent failure of a statewide nondiscrimination bill at the Wyoming Legislature, the need to make Wyoming a fairer, more equal place is now more urgent than ever. I am excited to work for a cause and an organization I believe so strongly in, and look forward to contributing to the betterment of this great state I call home. 

Feel free to contact us if you are interested in learning more about the ACLU and our work to bring equal rights to the Equality State. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

ACLU of Wyoming Statement on Senate File 115

The ACLU of Wyoming released the following statement this morning regarding the Wyoming House of Representatives voting down Senate File 115 Discrimination:

We are deeply disappointed that the Wyoming House yesterday failed to protect gay and transgender people from discrimination in the Equality State. Although we were troubled by the broad religious exemptions and other amendments added to SF115, the ACLU and our many coalition partners who supported the original bill will continue organizing toward meaningful nondiscrimination protections for hardworking LGBT residents of Wyoming. 

Friday, February 6, 2015

Legislative Update: General Session Continues...

2015 General Session
63rd Legislature

HOUSE BILLS

SUPPORT

HB0015

Restoration of voting rights by department of corrections.

Sponsored by: Joint Judiciary Interim Committee

AN ACT relating to criminal procedure; amending and conforming provisions relating to restoration of voting rights to felons; and providing for an effective date.

We support complete restoration of voting rights for felons in order to continue rehabilitation and bring them into their communities as full citizens. This bill provides restoration for those convicted of non-violent felony or felonies for an individual who has completed all of sentence including probation or parole.


SUPPORT

HB0018

Drone Protection Act.

Sponsored by: Joint Judiciary Interim Committee

AN ACT relating to drones; specifying requirements for use of drones by law enforcement agencies; limiting use of  information obtained with a drone by governmental entities;  requiring reports; and providing for an effective date.


This bill protects citizens privacy rights by requiring a warrant issued under probable cause for any use of law enforcement or government agency surveillance.



HB0026

Solemnization of marriage.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Barlow and Baker and Senator(s) Dockstader

AN ACT relating to domestic relations; providing that religious officials shall not be required to perform a marriage ceremony; and providing for an effective date.


This bill is not necessary as the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution provides this protection.

THIS BILL DIED IN JUDICIARY COMMITTEE.

OPPOSE

 HB0028

 Investigative subpoenas.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Zwonitzer, Dv., Brown and Pownall and Senator(s) Hicks

AN ACT relating to criminal procedure; providing for the issuance of investigative subpoenas for internet fraud; providing for confidentiality; providing definitions; and providing for an effective date.





SUPPORT

HB0029

Marihuana possession.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Byrd

AN ACT relating to marihuana possession; amending penalties for marihuana possession as specified; and providing for an effective date.


The ACLU has supported decriminalization of all drugs since the 1970’s.

A great place to start is House Bill 29, which would remove criminal penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana. This proposal would impose a civil, not criminal, penalty with a fine of up to $100 for a first or second offense. Reducing penalties for low-level marijuana possession would prevent thousands of people from becoming ensnared in the criminal justice system. Convictions for possessing even small amounts of marijuana can follow people throughout their lives. There are substantial long-term consequences to these charges, including potentially being disqualified from student financial-aid eligibility, loss of employment, veteran’s benefits, and incarceration. What we have now is a situation where the punishment simply doesn't reflect the conduct. 

A recent survey conducted by the University of Wyoming found that 62 percent of Wyomingites surveyed believe the penalty for marijuana possession should not include jail time. Decriminalization policies keep people out of jail and would eliminate many of the collateral consequences that flow from marijuana arrests, thereby reducing the gross number of people entering the criminal justice system.

Decriminalization also makes fiscal sense. According to the Bureau of Justice and the FBI’s Uniform Crime Reporting Program, Wyoming spent $9.1 million enforcing marijuana laws in 2010. That year, Wyoming made 2,254 total arrests for marijuana; 93 percent of those were for possession of a small amount, not for the manufacture or sale of marijuana.

THIS BILL DIED IN COMMITTEE OF THE WHOLE.

SUPPORT

HB0032

Hemp extract regulation.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) McKim, Barlow, Blake, Gay and Kroeker

AN ACT relating to public health; allowing supervised medical use of hemp extract; providing an exemption from  prosecution for possession or use of hemp extract;  providing for doctor supervision; creating a registration  program as specified; authorizing a fee for registration;  providing definitions; and providing for an effective date.



We would support this bill but feel that a broader medical provisions bill or complete decriminalization would be preferable.


SUPPORT

HB0038

PAC-campaign limits and funding.

Sponsored by: Joint Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Interim Committee

AN ACT relating to elections; repealing Wyoming's political action committee campaign contribution limits; allowing organizations to bear PAC related costs as specified; and providing for an effective date.



This change would bring Wyoming into compliance with recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions.




SUPPORT

HB0039

Aggregate campaign contribution limits-repeal.

Sponsored by: Joint Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Interim Committee

AN ACT relating to elections; repealing Wyoming's aggregate  campaign contribution limit; and providing for an effective date.
This change would bring Wyoming into compliance with recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions.




HB0049

Confidentiality of participants involved in execution.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Walters and Senator(s) Burns

AN ACT relating to criminal procedure; providing confidentiality for the identity of persons or entities involved in administering an execution; and providing for an effective date.



The ACLU does not support the death penalty and will strongly support any effort to abolish the penalty.


OPPOSE

HB0083

Religious Freedom Restoration Act.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Winters and Steinmetz and Senator(s) Dockstader

AN ACT relating to religious freedom; creating a Religious Freedom Restoration Act; providing definitions; limiting specified governmental actions that burden religious  freedom as specified; authorizing claims and defenses  against governmental action that burden religious freedom  as specified; providing for severability of the act; and  providing for an effective date.

 

An extremely broad poorly written bill that is most probably unconstitutional.



HB0090

Student religious liberties.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Kroeker, Baker, Edmunds, Gay, Halverson, Jaggi, Jennings, Loucks, McKim, Miller, Piiparinen, Reeder, Steinmetz and Winters and Senator(s) Dockstader

AN ACT relating to education; providing for voluntary student expression of religious expression in public  schools; specifying requirements for school districts; and  providing for an effective date.


The sections in the bill that provide for religious expression are not necessary as religious expression as outlined in the bill is already protected by the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.  There are many forums for the expression of religious speech both inside and outside of the public schools without making school events a forum for religious debate.



HB0091

HOUSE BILL NO. HB0091

Restoring constitutional governance act.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Kroeker, Baker, Halverson, Hunt, Jennings, Lindholm, Loucks, McKim and Miller and Senator(s) Case

AN ACT relating to criminal law; prohibiting enforcement of  federal law as specified; providing legislative declaration  that Wyoming is not a battlefield; providing definitions;  providing penalties; and providing for an effective date.



HB0094

Parental rights.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Jennings, Allen, Berger, Blackburn, Clem, Edmunds, Edwards, Gay, Halverson, Jaggi, Kroeker, Lindholm, Miller, Piiparinen, Steinmetz and Winters and Senator(s) Christensen, Dockstader and Meier


AN ACT relating to parents; providing for a parental right  to direct the upbringing, education and care of a child;  providing applicability as specified; and providing for an  effective date.



Another unnecessary bill as this right is conveyed by both the Wyoming and the U.S. Constitution.


SUPPORT

HB0097

Death penalty repeal.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Connolly, Baker, Halverson, Miller and Pelkey and Senator(s) Craft

AN ACT relating to crimes and offenses and criminal procedure; repealing the death penalty; repealing  procedures related to imposition and execution of death  sentences; conforming provisions; providing applicability;  and providing for an effective date.


The ACLU strongly supports the abolition of the death penalty; the penalty is not a deterrent, is administered by a flawed justice system, is expensive and is banned in all western nations except the U.S.

THIS BILL DIED IN COMMITTEE.

SUPPORT

HB0119
Death with dignity.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Zwonitzer, Dn. and Connolly

AN ACT relating to public health; providing that a capable 1 patient with a terminal disease may request prescription of 2 self-administered medication for the purpose of hastening 3 death; providing that patients have a right to information 4 as specified; specifying duties and responsibilities of 5 physicians as specified; specifying waiting periods and 6 residency requirements; specifying the effect of the act on 7 insurance policies; providing immunities for participation 8 in the act; specifying limitations; providing definitions; 9 granting rulemaking authority; and providing for an 10 effective date.



 HB0121

Constitutional convention limitations.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Laursen, Lindholm, Miller and Winters and Senator(s) Bebout, Driskill, Hicks, Peterson and Wasserburger

AN ACT relating to administration of government; specifying  limitations on delegates to an Article V convention;  providing definitions; and providing for an effective date. 


SUPPORT

HB0123

Juvenile records-expungement.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Throne, Esquibel, K. and Halverson and Senator(s) Burns and Craft

AN ACT relating to juveniles; providing for expungement of juvenile records as specified; providing prosecutorial discretion to petition to postpone expungement; providing conforming amendments; and providing for an effective date.



SUPPORT

HB0125

 Law enforcement citation quotas-prohibition.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Pelkey, Baker, Byrd, Edmonds, Esquibel, K., Halverson, Kroeker and Krone and Senator(s) Rothfuss

AN ACT relating to regulation of traffic on highways; prohibiting the use of citation quotas by law enforcement for traffic violations; and providing for an effective date.



OPPOSE

 HB0131

Change in party affiliation.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Blackburn, Edmonds and Wilson and Senator(s) Driskill and Meier

AN ACT relating to elections; amending a provision related to changes in party affiliation as specified; and providing for an effective date.


Another attempt at ensuring that no one other than Republicans can actually participate in the democratic process by prohibiting individuals from changing their party affiliation during a primary.

OPPOSE

HB132

 Juvenile confidentiality in court proceedings.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Throne and Halverson and Senator(s) Burns and Craft

AN ACT relating to children; providing for confidentiality of municipal and circuit court records for cases involving a juvenile; providing an exception; and providing for an effective date.


This is a very well-meaning bill but what it will accomplish is to protect the courts from any meaningful oversight by outside observers.  As a result of the legislatures refusal to make meaningful change in the juvenile system we continue to have these attempts to improve the system that end up with unintended consequences.


SUPPORT

HB134

Seized property.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Miller, Blackburn, Blake, Clem, Halverson, Jaggi, Kasperik, Kroeker, Piiparinen, Schwartz and Winters and Senator(s) Coe

AN ACT relating to seized property; specifying that  proceeds from the sale of forfeited property shall be  deposited in the crime victims compensation account;  repealing conflicting provisions; and providing for an  effective date.

A good bill that removes any incentive for law enforcement to make unethical stops in order to confiscate personal property.


A good bill that removes any incentive for law enforcement to make unethical stops in order to confiscate personal property. Washington Post article outlines Federal concerns: (Wyoming law currently allows for civil asset forfeiture by law enforcement.)



OPPOSE

HB0156

Abortion–ultrasound information.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Reeder, Gay, Halverson, Jaggi, Jennings, Kroeker, Loucks and Steinmetz and Senator(s) Dockstader, Meier, Peterson and Ross


AN ACT relating to public health and safety; requiring  physicians to provide patients with specified information  before certain nonemergency abortion procedures; providing  and amending definitions; and providing for an effective  date. 


§  This bill is an unwarranted intrusion into medical care. 
§  This bill imposes delays and threats to women’s access to medical services.
§  Waiting periods burden all women seeking care but are especially difficult for low-income women, rural women, working women without sick leave, and battered women.
§  This bill inserts the term "unborn child" repeatedly into the Wyoming Statutes.  Use of    this term reflects a religious viewpoint.  Doctors should not be required to use this term rather than the medically accurate term "embryo" or "fetus".

SUPPORT


HB0164
Student data privacy.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Steinmetz, Hunt and Reeder and Senator(s) Anderson, J.D. (SD02)

AN ACT relating to public education; requiring consent  prior to sharing of personally identifiable student  information; requiring reporting; and providing for an  effective date.


OPPOSE

HB0186

Human trafficking-forfeiture of property.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Connolly, Berger, Halverson, Kroeker, Krone and Northrup and Senator(s) Burns, Craft and Rothfuss


AN ACT relating to human trafficking; providing for forfeiture and seizure of specified property; specifying the procedures for forfeiture and seizure of property; providing exceptions; specifying distribution of proceeds from forfeited property; and providing for an effective date.


 

OPPOSE

HB0187

Marihuana impact study.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Krone and Northrup

AN ACT relating to controlled substances; providing for a1 study of marihuana impacts as specified; requiring a report; providing an appropriation; and providing for an effective date.






SUPPORT

HB0230

Compensation for exoneration based on DNA.

Sponsored by: Representative(s) Pelkey, Baker, Clem and Lindholm and Senator(s) Esquibel, F.


AN ACT relating to criminal procedure; authorizing  compensation for persons exonerated based on DNA testing  and found factually innocent; specifying conditions,  requirements and limitations on authorized compensation;  retaining governmental immunity as specified; conforming  provisions; providing for stay of order of expungement as  specified; providing an appropriation; and providing for an  effective date.



OPPOSE

HB0232
Open meetings.
  
Sponsored by: Representative(s) Nicholas, B. and Senator(s) Nicholas, P. and Perkins

AN ACT relating to public meetings; authorizing a governing body to take action upon confidential information during an  executive session; and providing for an effective date.



 The current law provides that discussion of confidential information may be taken in executive session but that any action taken must be done in a public session.  There is no reason to allow officials to take actions in a secret session; it is the duty and responsibility of the public to practice over site over public officials and this demands transparency.


SENATE BILLS


OPPOSE

SF0012

Trespassing to collect data.

Sponsored by: Joint Judiciary Interim Committee

AN ACT relating to crimes and offenses; creating the crimes of trespassing to unlawfully collect resource data and unlawful collection of resource data; limiting use of unlawfully collected data; providing for expungement;  providing definitions; and providing for an effective date.



This bill would protect agribusiness and landowners against whistleblowers of any kind including journalists looking to shine a public eye on their wrongdoing including animal abuse and polluting of public land and streams.  These are very bad bills that, when passed in other states have brought court battles as a result of their suppression of freedom of speech and broad applicability.  Private property rights are already protected from trespassers this is a law to protect property owners against pubic knowledge of misconduct.

SF0013

Method of execution-1.

Sponsored by: Joint Judiciary Interim Committee

AN ACT relating to criminal procedure; amending the method of execution of a death sentence; and providing for an effective date.


This bill would provide for the use of a firing squad to carry out executions.


SUPPORT

 SF0014

Asset forfeiture-2.

Sponsored by: Joint Judiciary Interim Committee

AN ACT relating to the Wyoming Controlled Substances Act; amending and expanding procedures and requirements for forfeiting and seizing property; providing definitions; conforming provisions; and providing for an effective date.
This bill is an important bill to protect private property from seizure by law enforcement without criminal conviction or court oversight.
SUPPORT
SF0018
Expungement of misdemeanors.

Sponsored by: Senator(s) Case and Burns and Representative(s) Greear and Zwonitzer, Dn.

AN ACT relating to criminal procedure; providing for the  expungement of records of conviction of misdemeanors as  specified; and providing for an effective date.



SUPPORT

 SF0036

Personal identifying information-definitions.

Sponsored by: Joint Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Interim Committee

AN ACT relating to crimes and offenses and consumer protection; amending definitions relating to personal identifying information; and providing for an effective date.



Expands the definitions of personal identifiers and provides privacy protection.

SUPPORT

SF0037

State protection of data privacy.

Sponsored by: Joint Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Interim Committee

AN ACT relating to administration of government; specifying  powers and duties of the department of enterprise  technology services over data privacy; specifying that  department data privacy policies and standards shall be the  minimum privacy requirements adhered to by state agencies;  and providing for an effective date.



Broadens privacy protections.

SUPPORT

SF0038

 Controlled substances-first offense for possession.
Sponsored by: Senator(s) Case and Representative(s) Kroeker

AN ACT relating to controlled substances; providing for  deferred prosecution for the first offense of using or being under the influence of a controlled substance; and providing for an effective date.

SUPPORT

SF0041

Employee online privacy.

Sponsored by: Joint Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Interim Committee

AN ACT relating to labor and employment; prohibiting an  employer from requesting or requiring access to a personal  internet account of an employee or prospective employee;  prohibiting an employer from taking adverse action against  an employee or prospective employee for failing to disclose  information to access a personal internet account;  providing exceptions; prohibiting waiver of rights;  providing for civil penalties; providing a civil cause of  action; providing a definition; and providing for an  effective date.



SUPPORT

SF0045

 Digital information privacy task force-reappropriation.

 Sponsored by: Joint Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Interim Committee

AN ACT relating to the administration of government and  privacy; specifying staffing for the digital information  privacy task force; designating a committee to receive task  force report; reappropriating money; and providing for an  effective date.



SF0049

Initiative and referendum-revisions.

Sponsored by: Joint Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Interim Committee

AN ACT relating to initiatives and referendums; repealing prior initiative and referendum provisions; creating  separate initiative and referendum provisions; revising  initiative and referendum procedures and language; removing  restrictions on circulator qualifications and pay as  specified; and providing for an effective date.



SUPPORT

SF0050

Tribal liaisons.

Sponsored by: Select Committee on Tribal Relations

AN ACT relating to administration of the government; amending provisions relating to tribal liaisons; repealing and conforming provisions; providing an appropriation; and providing for an effective date.



The tribal liaison position is an important position to ensure that the State of Wyoming and the tribes have a working relationship that is beneficial to both parties.

SUPPORT

SF0052

Elections-vote centers and electronic pollbooks.

AN ACT relating to elections; authorizing the use of electronic pollbooks; authorizing the use of vote centers; establishing a procedure for changing polling locations;  providing definitions; making conforming amendments;  repealing certification of pollbooks by election judges;  and providing for an effective date.




SUPPORT

 SF0054

Election Code-revisions.

Sponsored by: Joint Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Interim Committee

AN ACT relating to elections; providing definitions; clarifying and amending campaign reporting requirements; amending term limit provisions to comply with decisions of  the Wyoming supreme court; conforming language to prior  statutory changes; limiting distribution of the election  code; requiring oaths as specified; amending notice of  appointment provisions; amending time limits applicable to  the acceptance of nominations; amending time limits for the delivery of absentee ballots; amending absentee ballot  formatting; altering obligations to initial ballots;  acknowledging a canvassing board's ability to validate 11 noninitialed ballots; amending provisions related to write-in candidates; making grammatical changes; specifying the  official who prints names on ballots; and providing for an  effective date.

Sponsored by: Joint Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Interim Committee





SF68

 Property rights ombudsman.
Sponsored by: Senator(s) Hicks, Anderson, J.D. (SD02), Driskill and Emerich and Representative(s) Brown, Hunt, McKim, Sommers and Winters

AN ACT relating to the office of state lands and  investments; creating the office of private lands and  energy ombudsman; providing duties for the office;  providing rulemaking authority; authorizing a position;  providing an appropriation; and providing for an effective  date.




OPPOSE

 SF0080

Trespassing to collect data-civil cause of action.

Sponsored by: Senator(s) Hicks, Christensen, Driskill and Kinskey and Representative(s) Baker, Halverson and Miller

AN ACT relating to trade and commerce; providing a civil  cause of action for trespassing to unlawfully collect  resource data; limiting the use of unlawfully collected  data; providing definitions; and providing for an effective  date.


This bill would allow private landowners to sue whistleblowers, environmentalists, journalists, researchers for uncovering illegal activity on their property or in their business.  This would be on top of the criminal charges that could be under SF12.

SUPPORT

 SF0083

Parole board authority.

Sponsored by: Senator(s) Esquibel, F. and Representative(s) Byrd and Zwonitzer, Dn.

AN ACT relating to criminal procedure; providing for an inmate to petition for a commutation of sentence on an annual basis; and providing for an effective date. 



SUPPORT

SF0115

Discrimination.

Sponsored by: Senator(s) Rothfuss, Burns, Christensen, Coe, Nicholas, P., Pappas, Von Flatern and Wasserburger and Representative(s) Brown, Connolly, Lockhart, Madden, Paxton, Petroff and Zwonitzer, Dn.

AN ACT relating to discrimination; prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity as specified; providing an exception; and providing for an effective date.













SUPPORT

SF0132

Wyoming Fair Housing Act.

Sponsored by: Senator(s) Scott and Representative(s) Stubson and Walters

AN ACT relating to housing discrimination; defining  prohibited practices; providing for conciliation and  hearings; providing penalties; and providing for an  effective date.











SF0139

Open and revised elections.

Sponsored by: Senator(s) Rothfuss and Scott and Representative(s) Petroff and Zwonitzer, Dn.


AN ACT relating to elections; providing for primary  elections allowing any voter to vote for any candidate;  amending definitions relating to qualifications of  political parties; eliminating election of precinct  committeemen and committeewomen at primary elections;  providing for advancement to the general election;  providing for filling of vacancies in nomination; making conforming amendments; requiring planning regarding ranked  choice voting as specified; and providing for an effective  date. 0




OPPOSE

SJ001

Right of privacy-constitutional amendment.

Sponsored by: Joint Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Interim Committee

A JOINT RESOLUTION proposing to amend the Wyoming Constitution by creating a new section providing that the right of individual privacy is essential to the well-being of a free society and shall not be infringed without the showing of a compelling state interest.

Without a constitutionally protected right of access this could be used to block citizens right to public documents.

From Montana Constitution:

 Section 8. RIGHT OF PARTICIPATION. The public has the right to expect
governmental agencies to afford such reasonable opportunity for citizen participation in the
operation of the agencies prior to the final decision as may be provided by law.

Section 9. RIGHT TO KNOW. No person shall be deprived of the right to examine
documents or to observe the deliberations of all public bodies or agencies of state government and

its subdivisions, except in cases in which the demand of individual privacy clearly exceeds the
merits of public disclosure.

Section 10. RIGHT OF PRIVACY. The right of individual privacy is essential to the
well-being of a free society and shall not be infringed without the showing of a compelling state
interest.



 SJ0004

Constitutional convention.

Sponsored by: Senator(s) Peterson and Representative(s) Winters

A JOINT RESOLUTION requesting Congress to call a convention to amend the United States Constitution as specified.






SUPPORT

SJ0007

Resolution declaring Chicano history week.
Sponsored by: Senator(s) Esquibel, F.

A JOINT RESOLUTION to declare February 2 through 8, 2015, as Chicano History Week in the state of Wyoming.