October 8, 2021 |

The state legislature likely will meet in special session by the end of October to take up bills addressing vaccine mandates on Wyoming citizens.

The Legislative Service Office has not released any numbers publicly, but did inform members of the 66th Wyoming Legislature by email yesterday that the necessary threshold of emailed votes in a straw poll was reached by Wednesday’s 5 p.m. deadline.

According to the joint rules of the Legislature for a special session, 11 senators and 21 representatives were needed in the initial headcount to advance to a formal vote.

Representative John Bear of Campbell County, who favors passing laws to proscribing COVID-19 vaccine mandates, said the final number was 13 senators and 28 representatives. Bear said the final tally could even go higher.

File photo of the Wyoming State Capitol Building.

 

The official paper vote for the straw poll was sent to House and Senate members on Monday in a memorandum. Lawmakers must return their ballot to the LSO with a postmark of no later than today for it to be counted. With the first step in the process met, the stage is set for the Presiding Officers to conduct a formal vote for a special session. The formal vote sets a higher bar and requires a simple majority to pass.

Bear, who represents House District 31, told Bigfoot 99 that he is confident that the 31 representatives and 16 senators needed in the next round will vote to meet in a special session.

 

The vote on the rules would be the first order of business if a special session is called. Among the rules that could derail the process are keeping the session to three days and to three bills all addressing a single topic — COVID-19 vaccine mandates. Draft legislation is floating around already, Bear said, but likely will undergo changes in the next few weeks. Leadership will pick the bills that ultimately will be submitted for consideration.

 

What the bills look like will depend on what kind of votes happen in committees, and what amendments are attached. One bill has already been put out by the Joint, Labor Health. Other individual bills have also been drafted but still need vetting by leadership. Bear described a spectrum of bills that could come out of committees on Day 1 of special session.

 

If called, the special session would occur before the end of the month. Legislative leadership already has circled October 26, 27 and 28 on the calendar to hold the three-day session. It could happen sooner if Governor Mark Gordon, who has indicated that he opposes vaccine mandates and supports a special session to address the issue, steps in and calls for the legislature to meet. That would end the need for the legislature to conduct a formal vote and could move up the timeline on when they would meet.

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