Wyoming State Legislature

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Wyoming State Legislature

Seal of Wyoming.png
General Information
Type:   State legislature
Term limits:   None
2014 session start:   February 10, 2014
Website:   Official Legislature Page
Leadership
Senate President:   Tony Ross (R)
House Speaker:  Tom Lubnau (R)
Majority Leader:   Phil Nicholas (R) (Senate),
Kermit Brown (R) (House)
Minority leader:   Chris Rothfuss (D) (Senate),
Mary Throne (D) (House)
Structure
Members:  30 (Senate), 60 (House)
Length of term:   4 years (Senate), 2 years (House)
Authority:   Art 3, Wyoming Constitution
Salary:   $150/day + per diem
Elections
Last Election:  November 6, 2012
15 seats (Senate)
60 seats (House)
Next election:  November 4, 2014
Redistricting:  Wyoming Legislature has control
The Wyoming State Legislature is the state legislature of Wyoming. It is a bicameral legislature, consisting of a 60 member Wyoming House of Representatives, and a 30 member Wyoming State Senate. The legislature meets at the Wyoming State Capitol in Cheyenne.

As of August 2014, Wyoming is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.

See also: Wyoming House of Representatives, Wyoming State Senate, Wyoming Governor

History

The Wyoming State Legislature began like other Western states as a territorial legislature, with nearly (though not all) the parliamentary regulations that guide other fully-fledged state legislatures.

Women's Suffrage

During its territorial era, the Wyoming Legislature played a crucial role in the Suffragette Movement in the United States. In 1869, only four years following the American Civil War and 35 years before women's suffrage became a highly visible political issue in the U.S., Britain and elsewhere, the Wyoming Legislature granted all women above the age of 21 the right to vote. The legislature's move made Wyoming the first portion of the U.S. where women were explicitly granted the voting franchise. News spread quickly to other neighboring territories and states. In 1870, the Utah Territorial Legislature similarly granted the voting franchise to women.

The move by the legislature was motivated by a number of factors, including bringing Eastern women to the territory to increase its population, to publicize the new territory, to bring more voters into the fold for existing political elites, and by genuine concerns that women should be allowed the vote.

Due to the territory's change of voting laws in 1869, the anti-suffrage U.S. Congress was hostile to Wyoming and its legislature. During proceedings to make Wyoming a U.S. state in 1889 and in writing a new constitution in 1980, Congress threatened to withhold statehood unless the law was changed. The Wyoming Legislature and territorial government sent a threatening telegram back to Washington, insisting that Wyoming would remain out of the United States 100 years rather than become a state without women's suffrage. The federal Congress withdrew its threat, and on July 10, 1890, President Benjamin Harrison signed into law Wyoming becoming the 44th U.S. state.

Wyoming's early entry into female politics continued into the 20th century. In 1925, Democrat Nellie Tayloe Ross became the first elected female governor of a U.S. state.

Sessions

Article III of the Wyoming Constitution establishes when the Legislature is to be in session. Sections 6 and 7 of Article III contain the relevant provisions. The Legislature is to convene in regular session for no more than sixty legislative working days every two years, and no more than forty legislative days in any year. In odd-numbered years, the Legislature meets for a general and budget session, beginning on the second Tuesday of January. In even-numbered years, the Legislature meets for a session devoted to budgetary matters.

Section 7 of Article III contains the provisions for convening special sessions of the Legislature. Special sessions can be convened by the proclamation of the Governor of Wyoming, or the Legislature can convene a special session of up to twenty legislative days if the session is requested by a majority of the members of each legislative house.

2014

See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions

In 2014, the Legislature was in session from February 10 through March 7.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2014 legislative session included addressing the state's budget, requiring for-profit hospitals to accept a percentage of charity care, increased school accountability and reforming retirement systems of state agencies.[1]

2013

See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 to February 27.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included "opting out" of the Affordable Healthcare Act and Medicaid, a 10-cent fuel tax increase, infrastructure improvements, and reforms to sex crime laws.[2]

2012

See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Legislature was in session from February 13 through March 9.

2011

See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Legislature was in regular session from January 11 through March 3.[3] The 45 calendar days that the Wyoming Legislature was in session during 2011 is tied with Utah, New Mexico, and Arkansas for the shortest legislative session in the country.

2010

See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Legislature convened for its biennial budget session, which lasted from February 8 to March 5.[4]

Role in state budget

See also: Wyoming state budget

The state operates on a biennial budget cycle. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[5][6]

  1. Budget instruction guidelines are sent to state agencies on or before June 15.
  2. State agencies submit their budget requests in September.
  3. Agency hearings are held by November 20.
  4. The Wyoming State Legislature adopts a budget in March. A simple majority is required to pass a budget.
  5. The biennial budget cycle begins in July.

The governor has line-item veto power as well as the authority to veto appropriations items, veto selected words and change the meaning of selected words.[6]

In Wyoming, the governor is constitutionally required to submit a balanced budget. In addition, the legislature is constitutionally required to pass a balanced budget.[6]

Cost-benefit analyses

See also: Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative Cost-Benefit Study
Map showing results of the Pew-MacArthur cost-benefit study.

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 which indicated that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. Among the challenges states faced were a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. Wyoming was one of 11 states that made rare use of cost-benefit analyses in policy and budget processes.[7]

Ethics and transparency

Following the Money report

See also: Following the Money 2014 Report

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending.[8] According to the report, Wyoming received a grade of C- and a numerical score of 68, indicating that Wyoming was "middling" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.[8]

Open States Transparency

See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. Wyoming was given a grade of C in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data is to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A -- Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.[9]

Population

Wyoming remains the smallest state by population in the United States. However, the Wyoming Legislature is not the smallest. The Nebraska State Legislature, with only 49 members, is the smallest legislative body out of the 50 states.

Redistricting

See also: Redistricting in Wyoming

The Wyoming State Legislature is responsible for drafting the new, redistricted maps. The initial drafting usually occurs in the Joint Interim Committee on Corporations, Elections, and Political Subdivisions, and then must pass through both the House of Representatives and the State Senate. The Governor of Wyoming holds veto power over the map.

2010

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Wyoming's population increased from just under 494,000 to over 563,000.[10] This increase of 14.5 percent was higher than the national average, but Wyoming still had less people than the average size for one Congressional district.[11]

The Joint Interim Committee on Corporations, Elections, and Political Subdivisions decided to keep single-member districts and the current configuration of 30 members in the Senate and 60 members in the House. Only 34 of the 90 old House and Senate districts were within the accepted five percent margin of error from the ideal population, suggesting that many districts would have to be reshuffled.[12] After having public hearings, the Committee adopted a complete map in December of 2011, and gave it final approval in January of 2012. The Senate and the House both passed the final map by very wide margins (28-2 in the Senate and 51-8 in the House) and Governor Matt Mead signed the map into law on March 6, 2012.[13][14]

Senate

The Wyoming Senate is the upper house of the Wyoming State Legislature. There are 30 Senators in the Senate, representing an equal amount of constituencies across the state. Each member represents an average of 18,788 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[15] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 16,459.[16]

Like other upper houses of state and territorial legislatures and the federal U.S. Senate, the Wyoming Senate can confirm or reject gubernatorial appointments to the state cabinet, commissions, boards, or justices to the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Partisan composition

Party As of August 2014
     Democratic Party 4
     Republican Party 26
Total 30


The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Wyoming State Senate from 1992-2013.

Partisan composition of the Wyoming State Senate.PNG

House of Representatives

The Wyoming House of Representatives is the lower house of the Wyoming State Legislature. There are 60 Representatives in the House, representing an equal amount of constituencies across the state. Each member represents an average of 9,394 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[17] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 8,230.[18]

Partisan composition

Party As of August 2014
     Democratic Party 8
     Republican Party 52
Total 60

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Wyoming State House from 1992-2013.

Partisan composition of the Wyoming State House.PNG

Legislators

Term limits

Members of the Senate and House of Representatives have served without term limits since the Wyoming Supreme Court declared term limits unconstitutional in 2004, overturning a decade old law that restricted Senators and Representatives to serving no more than twelve years.

Salaries

See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the Wyoming Legislature are paid $150/day. Legislators receive $109/day per diem, set by the legislature.[19]

Pension

Wyoming does not provide pensions for legislators.[20]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

Wyoming legislators assume office the first Monday in January following the election.

Joint Committees

The Wyoming Legislature has 12 standing committees.

History

Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, Wyoming
Partisan breakdown of the Wyoming legislature from 1992-2013

Wyoming Senate: Throughout every year from 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the Wyoming State Senate. The Wyoming State Senate is one of 13 state senates that was Republican for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. Wyoming was under Republican trifectas for the final three years of the study period.

Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.

Wyoming House of Representatives: Throughout every year from 1992-2013, the Republican Party was the majority in the Wyoming State House of Representatives. The Wyoming House of Representatives is one of nine state Houses that was Republican for more than 80 percent of the years between 1992-2013. Wyoming was under Republican trifectas for the final three years of the study period.

Across the country, there were 577 Democratic and 483 Republican State Houses of Representatives from 1992 to 2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of Wyoming, the Wyoming State Senate and the Wyoming House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of Wyoming state government(1992-2013).PNG

SQLI and partisanship

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the Wyoming state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. Though Wyoming had a number of Republican trifectas during the course of the study, both its highest and lowest rankings occurred during divided governments. In 2007 it finished 24th, and in 2010 it finished 4th, marking a large shift in a short amount of time.

Chart displaying the partisanship of the Wyoming government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

External links

References

  1. wyofile.com, "Legislature 2014: What you need to know about the budget session," December 3, 2013
  2. Cody Enterprise, "Wyoming Legislature set for ‘wild ride’," January 2, 2013
  3. National Conference of State Legislatures, "2011 Legislative Sessions Calendar," accessed June 6, 2014(Archived)
  4. Wyoming Legislative Service Office, "2010 session dates for Wyoming Legislature," accessed August 1, 2014
  5. National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
  7. Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
  8. 8.0 8.1 U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
  9. Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
  10. U.S. Census Bureau, "2010 Census: Wyoming Profile," accessed August 1, 2014
  11. U.S. Census Bureau, "Congressional Apportionment," November 2011
  12. Wyoming Tribune Eagle, "Redistricting process gaining momentum," May 22, 2011
  13. Wyoming Tribune Eagle, "Redistricting plan clears both House and Senate," March 10, 2012
  14. Pinedale Roundup, "Gov. Mead signs redistricting plan into law," March 8, 2012
  15. census.gov, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
  16. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population," April 2, 2001
  17. census.gov, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
  18. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population," April 2, 2001
  19. NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
  20. USA Today, "State-by-state: Benefits available to state legislators," September 23, 2011