Wyoming Senate Committee moves forward with bill that would add restrictions to health orders

Published: Mar. 3, 2021 at 12:04 PM CST
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Senator Troy McKeown (R-SD24) explained Senate File 80 on Wednesday morning to the Senate Labor, Health, and Social Services Committee. The bill passed out of committee with a 3-2 vote. Senator Anthony Bouchard (R-SD06), Senator Lynn Hutchings (R-SD05), and Sen. McKeown voted in favor of the bill. Chairman Fred Baldwin (R-SD14) and Senator Dan Furphy (R-SD10) voted against the bill.

Senator McKewon said the bill puts limitations on health orders. If the legislature were to pass SF0080, health orders couldn’t go into effect without a 48-hour notice. During that period, counties could opt out of the health orders. The bill would also require the Wyoming Legislature to ratify health orders that last longer than a 30-day period.

Renny MacKay, policy director for Governor Mark Gordon, testified during Wednesday’s meeting. MacKay said that Governor Gordon supports another bill, SF0030. No one on the Senate Labor Committee asked MacKay any questions. The vote happened just one day after Gov. Gordon delivered his virtual State of the State to the legislature. In his speech, the Governor asked the legislature not to get sidetracked. He also supported the State Health Officer, Dr. Alexia Harrist, saying she responded to the pandemic by following science, not politics.

County Commissioners also testified during the committee that they supported SF0030, which would set up a task force to review Wyoming’s pandemic response. However, the commissioners who testified also said that some counties may want the power given to the commissioners in SF0080.

During the meeting, Sen. Bouchard said, “The people at the top [those making the health orders] just look at the people above them. And we need thinkers here or else we need some accountability. I mean aren’t you hearing that from your constituents?”

Senator Hutchings said, “I’m finding is that I’ve had two people oppose this bill.” Sen. Hutchings said “floods” of people have told her they want to see this bill passed. Sen. McKeown, one of the sponsors of the bill, said, “It’s our job down here to protect everybody’s liberties and freedoms, not take them away.” Sen. McKeown said that the state health orders in place because of the COVID-19 pandemic are unconstitutional.

The Senate Labor Committee Chairman, Sen. Baldwin, said he does think things need to be changed moving forward. He voted against the bill because he considers it a knee-jerk reaction. “I would like to look at all the possibilities,” he said. “That’s necessary before you make knee-jerk changes. I think that’s what this bill represents; it is a knee-jerk change. But I think sometimes when you make knee-jerk reactions, you tend to make mistakes.”

Don’t forget to share your responses during the session with us. You can email grace.foulk@gray.tv with a quick statement about SF0080, SF0030, or any of the other bills introduced during the session. You can also upload a video response to our webpage or Wyoming News Now app. We’ll be airing them throughout the session on our morning and noon shows.

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