October 14, 2021 |
If the 66th Wyoming Legislature meets in special session this month, Republican lawmakers will have to initiate the process without the help of Democrats in either the upper or lower chamber. The House and Senate Minority leaders this week sent a letter to the Presiding Officers that all Democrats will vote “no” on a special session and “no” on any proposed rule changes if a special session does convene.
The Democrat caucus is a small one. The Wyoming senate has 30 seats. Democrats hold only two. The State House has 60 members. Seven are Democrats.
Two-thirds of the members in each chamber must approve a special session. With 20 aye votes needed in the Senate and 40 in the House, the holdout by the minority party won’t derail the process. It will put a spotlight on moderate Republicans.
Rule changes are needed to keep the special session to three days, three bills and one topic. Any one of those criteria could be a deal breaker with or without the help of Democrats.
In their letter dated October 12th, House Minority Leader Cathy Connolly and Senate Minority Leader Chris Rothfuss noted that the federal rules regarding how OSHA may enforce the forced COVID shots that the White House called for last month are still not released. They also argued that whatever rules are released would take precedence under the Supremacy Clause over any law the legislature might pass. This argument ignores the fact that numerous states run by Democrats have legalized marijuana in defiance of federal rules against the drug. Some Republicans in the legislature, Senator Ogden Driscoll, have said that Wyoming might use the marijuana model pioneered by states where pot is legal to ignore any federal law requiring mRNA therapy injections for COVID. Connolly and Ruthfuss also worried that the $75,000 cost of a special session would be a waste of taxpayer money.
Recent data shows that Wyoming is among the states where residents are skeptical about the jab. Only 42 percent of Wyoming’s population is fully vaccinated. Even among those who voluntarily took the jab, it’s unclear how many support a federal mandate forcing the shot. In any case, minority leaders said a special session would rush the legislative process and limit public input on the bills up for consideration.
Meanwhile, Governor Mark Gordon is pushing forward with a legal challenge outside the legislative process. In a release yesterday, Governor Gordon said he and the attorney general are continuing to prepare a potential lawsuit against the “threat of the Biden Administration’s proposed vaccine mandates.” The state will take the White House to court as soon as specific policies regarding a mandate are released.
To that end, the governor said the attorney general is building potential arguments and strategies to challenge what Gordon said is “federal overreach” and intrusion into the private sector.