Over the last several years, moderate legislators within Wyoming’s borders have had to contend with a more conservative flank of the Republican Party. But those lawmakers who claim to represent the freedoms many residents cherish also buck that sentiment when it suits them.
In the most recent session of the Wyoming Legislature, bills sought to repeal gun free zones and allow for those licensed to carry concealed weapons to do so in government meetings and in schools. The legislation would have taken control out of the hands of local governing entities and handed it to the state. The attempts failed, though.
Another piece of legislation that garnered attention centered around county zoning authority regarding private schools. This one raised some eyebrows because it appeared Foster Friess was using his financial influence within the Legislature to get his way. It also took local control away from the governing body closest to the people. This bill awaits consideration from the governor.
Still another bill, House Bill 196, made it easier for large landowners to divide out smaller parcels of property to build homesites. Opponents of that bill said it would threaten rural planning efforts, undermining minimum lot requirements planners have established to protect what residents have said they value — primarily, open spaces. The governor signed this bill into law Feb. 27.
These are just three examples of bills in the Legislature this session that remove local voices from local decisions. For a party that advocates for smaller government, many of its members have tread heavily on the voices of the elected officials closest to the people while simultaneously lambasting federal government overreach.