Illustration by Amanda Pittman

DERAILED: How Wyoming’s Legislature got off track, and how to steer it back (series intro)

The Wyoming Legislature has become more concerned with squabbling over hot-button national issues than addressing the real problems of our state. In a new series, Better Wyoming looks at how this happened, and what we need to do to get back on track.
Women in Rawlins will have to drive 100 miles to deliver a baby in a hospital.

Wyoming lawmakers stand by as two more hospitals close their maternity wards

Wyomingites understand that we do not have the cutting-edge medical facilities that big cities offer. But that does not mean we should force small-town women to face stressful and even dangerous situations in order to safely give birth. Our state can have a hospital system that serves us all. But that means we need legislators who are willing to help support it.
Nothing to see here, folks. Just some foreign currency drying off after a nice Wyoming bath.

Wyoming’s laws invite dirty money with no benefit to state residents

Russian oligarchs and other bad actors take advantage of Wyoming’s lax laws governing trusts and LLCs to hide their fortunes here. What do we get for acting as a global dirty money laundromat? Not much.
The Legislature's tax giveaway won't help Wyoming coal workers—but it will put money in CEOs' pockets.

Wyo. Legislature finally (sort of) admits that the coal industry is dying

Unfortunately, state lawmakers’ responses to the industry’s decline won’t save jobs or help coal communities. They will, however, lead to less funding for public schools and higher energy costs for Wyoming residents.
Actual image of Wyoming lawmakers redrawing the state's election map

Save the politicians, screw the people: “Redistricting” showed the bald self interest that drives the Wyoming Legislature

Members of the public made clear their wishes for better representation during the Wyoming Legislature’s 2022 “redistricting” process. But in the end, the chaotic ordeal confirmed that most lawmakers’ number one priority is protecting their own political interests.
As anti-choice grassroots advocates have grown more powerful, the Supreme Court ruling has seemed like the only thing preventing abortion bans.

Wyoming Legislature passes law to ban abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned

The Equality State will become the 13th in the nation with this kind of “trigger law,” which would put a ban into effect if the U.S. Supreme Court reverses its landmark reproductive rights decision.
Voters showed up from across the state in person and on Zoom to testify against SF-97.

Outcry confronts bill to restrict Wyoming voting, prompting committee to kill it

More than a dozen Wyoming voters showed up to ask the Wyoming House Appropriations Committee on Monday to defeat Senate File 97, which would limit who can vote in primary elections. They argued the proposal would make voting more difficult and force residents to vote blind. After more than an hour of testimony against it, the committee agreed and thumbed the bill down.
There are two sides to every story, said Driskill, including the Holocaust.

Wyo. House Education Committee kills school censorship bill

Sen. Ogden Driskill, the bill’s sponsor, argued that his proposed law would ensure historical events like the Holocaust receive more balanced treatment. Its opponents said it would amount to drawing a target on teachers’ backs.
Abortion bans don't end abortion. They just force women to find other means.

Wyoming edges toward banning abortion

A bill moving through the Wyoming Legislature would completely ban abortion in the state—even in cases of rape and incest—in the event that the U.S. Supreme Court overturns Roe v. Wade. Another would immediately outlaw “abortion pills,” which can be more readily accessible for Wyoming women unable to travel great distances to end a pregnancy. The progress of these bills demonstrates a radical shift over the past five years in the Legislature’s position on reproductive rights.
Senators Bo Biteman and Charlie Scott led the effort to derail the adults' work.

Wyoming Senate scraps “redistricting” plan in a reckless power play

County clerks, legislators, local officials, and members of the public worked for months to reach consensus on a new statewide election district map. On Tuesday, the Wyoming Senate voted to throw that plan in the trash and start from scratch with just seven days remaining in the 2022 legislative session. The Senate’s move is a last-ditch attempt to give outsized influence to rural areas that have lost residents over the past decade, while under-representing more urban areas like Cheyenne that have experienced population growth.