Wyoming Legislature update Jan 19 & 20
by Albert Sommers – House District #20 Representative
January 22, 2015
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Hello Sublette County, this is Albert Sommers reporting from Cheyenne on Tuesday morning. Last night in the Education Committee we heard two bills, which elicited great debate. HB23 would eliminate the budget amendment from last session that forbid the State Board of Education from considering the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS). I supported this budget amendment last session, because I did not believe the State Board had a standard setting process that was well defined, with ample public input. I do not have an issue with the standards themselves, as I believe others are more qualified to judge their merits. However, I do believe it is my responsibility to ensure the process is comprehensive. Last night in committee, I supported the bill to remove the prohibition on the NGSS, because the State Board has substantially improved their standard setting process over the last year. I am also bringing a bill, which will statutorily increase the public input into standards. Budget footnotes should not be used to create legislation, because it leaves the public out of the process, with no opportunity to comment. Budget footnotes have been overused by both the Appropriations Committee and members of the legislature in general. I hope this will highlight that problem, and slow this usage down. HB73 came to the committee, and it changes the length of time before a standard has to be reviewed from 5 years to 10 years. This does not prohibit the state board and the Department of Education from initiating a standard review earlier than 10 years, but it does not mandate a review until 10 years. This provides more stability to districts, which is the number one complaint I hear from my districts. My bill will increase this time period to 8 years. Both school districts in Sublette County supported both of these bills, including the boards. Both boards supported eliminating the restriction created by the budget amendment, even though they did not necessarily support all of the NGSS standards. Both of these bill passed committee unanimously.
Monday, January 19, 2015
Hello Sublette County, this is Casey Terrell reporting for Representative Sommers, who is in committee.
The second week of the 63rd Legislature had legislators hit the ground running as they began to hear 3rd readings on several bills. One such bill garnered much discussion and that was HB-17 which deals with sexual assault protection orders. The main point of contention with the bill arose on a pair of amendments to the bill, one which failed and another which passed. Representative Sommers supported the amendment which failed, because he believes the courts should have the discretion to decide whether the court protection order lasted up to one year, rather than the 3 months put forth in the first amendment. Representative Sommers also agreed with the passed amendment’s change to ensure that those accused would not have their identities released before they were found guilty.
Another highly debated bill was being presented to the committee of the whole was HB-18 which deals with restrictions on drone usage law enforcement. The bill requires that law enforcement must obtain a warrant prior to the use of the drone, and evidence that is collected by the drone that is not specified in the warrant will be null and void. This bill has passed committee of the whole but will have several more readings before it is voted on as law, so be sure to let Representative Sommers know what you think.