Friday, January 7, 2011

2011 Wyoming Legislative Session Starts Next Week

The General Session of the 2011 legislature starts next week on January 11. Our new Governor, Matt Mead, will present his State of the State address at a Joint Session of the Legislature on January 12 at 10:00 A.M. in the House Chamber.

The legislature has a very good web site ( that allows you to track any bills you are interested in, find out the schedules for all session activities including committee meetings, and contact your legislator. In addition, there is helpful information on the best way to participate in the session.

The Wyoming Chapter of the ACLU follows a number of bills and provides information and testimony on those that directly affect the civil rights of Wyoming citizens. We will have daily updates on the progress of the legislature.

Below is a list of proposed legislation that we are monitoring:

HB0021 – Battery against a family member - AN ACT relating to crimes and offenses, removing time restrictions relating to second and subsequent convictions for simple battery against a family member as specified; amending penalties for subsequent convictions; and providing for an effective date.

The current penalties for this crime are fair and reasonable penalties; continually providing harsher and harsher penalties for crimes does not solve social problems and has driven the prison population to one of the largest and most expensive in the world.
We do not support this bill.

HB0023 – Sex offender registration amendments – AN ACT relating to sex offender registration and notification; amending the information sex offenders are required to provide; requiring specified juveniles to register as sex offenders; amending the information that shall be provided to the public; amending the registration requirements for specified offenses; conforming provisions; requiring offenders convicted but not yet sentenced to register as sex offenders; requiring notice by the offender who will travel out of the country as specified; eliminating language that may permit an offender who has not registered as required to avoid statutes after a specified time; clarifying conditions under which an offender may petition a court to be relieved of registration requirements; amending and creating definitions and providing for an effective date.

Sex offender registries are generally not supported by either law enforcement or treatment experts as they do not work; making juveniles register (the majority of which are victims themselves) not only gives true pedophiles a list of possible victims but ensures a more difficult and possible impossible rehabilitation for children.
We do not support this bill.

HB0024 - Voting rights – AN ACT relating to voting rights; repealing the time period required before restoration of voting rights to certain convicted felons; making conforming amendment; and providing for an effective date.

We support legislation that increases the opportunity to participate in the democratic process of voting, and contributes to the successful reintegration of ex-offenders into society.
We support this bill.

HB0040 – Compensation for persons exonerated based on DNA -
AN ACT relating to criminal procedure; authorizing compensation for persons exonerated based on DNA testing; specifying conditions, requirements and limitations on authorized compensation; conforming provisions; and providing for an effective date.

We support legislation that provides for compensation although would like to see a more fair level of compensation.
We support this bill.

HB0065 – Marital counseling - AN ACT relating to marriage; requiring premarital counseling before a couple may obtain a marriage license as specified; providing a waiting period before issuance of a marriage license for parties who fail to complete premarital counseling as specified; requiring marital counseling before a married couple may obtain a divorce decree as specified; providing a waiting period before issuance of a divorce decree for parties who fail to complete court order marital counseling as specified; and providing for an effective date.

The decision to marry or divorce is a private decision, as is the decision to seek counseling; this is not a decision that should be burdened by this type of statute.
We do not support this bill.

HB0074 – Validity of marriages – AN ACT relating to marriage; providing that marriages other than of a male and a female person are void; providing that marriages between more than two parties are void; specifying that Wyoming courts do no have jurisdiction over any domestic legal union involving parties who are not a male and a female person or where there are more than two parties to the contract; and providing for an effective date.

These bills are mean spirited anti-gay discriminatory bills that are unconstitutional.
We do not support this bill.

SF003 – Campaign finance-organizations – AN ACT relating to campaign finance; repealing restrictions on organizations making independent expenditures to advocate the election or defeat of a candidate; providing definition; conforming state law to a United States Supreme Court ruling; requiring notification in advertising; and providing for an effective date.

This bill would bring Wyoming into compliance with the opinion in Citizens United.
We support this bill.

SF0014 – Counties-election districts – AN ACT relating to county commissions; providing for redistricting by single member districts, at large representation or any combination of both; providing authority to county commissions to locate and amend county commissioner districts without election as specified; providing terms of county commissioners subject to districting and redistricting and providing for an effective date.

This bill has been filed as a result of the Fremont County Commissions loss in a voting rights case based on discriminatory voting practices. It is unnecessary and confusing and would not provide the relief that the commission is seeking.
We do not support this bill.

SF0036 – Seclusion and restraint in schools – AN ACT relating to public schools; requiring the state superintendent to adopt rules and regulations regarding seclusion and restraint in schools; requiring school district boards to adopt policies regarding the use of seclusion and restraint in schools as specified; defining terms; and providing for an effective date.

This bill is an important protection for both students and parents and requires the notification of parents when these measures are taken.
We support this bill.