Lawmakers discuss the 988 Suicide Hotline and Under-Aged Marriage bills

Published: Feb. 15, 2023 at 10:12 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 15, 2023 at 10:13 PM CST
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - On Wednesday, we spoke with lawmakers about the 988 suicide prevention bill and under-aged marriage.

The Senate passed the 988 Suicide Hotline bill in its 3rd reading but with amendments.

They are proposing the Department of Health seek private funding and charitable tax exemptions.

Lawmakers in support say this bill helps Wyoming’s toughest challenge, suicide.

”We need to stand together and to say this is unacceptable in this state and were going to use every resource. every ounce of our being to make sure our kids are safe, our young adults are safe, and even our adults,” said Sen. Mike Gierau, S.D. 17.

But critics are proposing a 5-year sunset date; they say this would allow authorities to evaluate if the program is working.

“Oh I’ve seen health programs run for years without the proper examination when they really weren’t effective,, and particularly in a health program. I think a sunset date is very valuable,” said Sen. Charles Scott, S.D. 30.

The bill now goes to the house for concurrence.

Next, the Underaged Marriage Bill was up for discussion in the Senate.

This bill would create a minimum age for legal marriage; there currently is no minimum age in Wyoming.

“We have had two 14-year-olds married in Wyoming in the last 20 years,” said Sen. Dan Zwonitzer, H.D. 43.

This bill proposes the age of consent be 18 years old except 16 years with parental or court consent or for emancipated minors.

According to lawmakers, the house almost failed to pass a minimum marriage age bill; it passed the house by only one vote.

”We do protect minors in different ways... to get married in a situation that under our law would actually be a crime, such as a man and a minor female or younger people where theres more than 4 years of difference in ages, that seems counter intuitive to me,” said Sen. Cale Case, S.D. 25.

Critics of the bill say it proposes government overstep, and if a minor gets pregnant, the couple should be allowed to marry.

”There is some concern that the government shouldn’t be interfering with religious freedoms including what the minimum marriage age in Wyoming is,” said Zwonitzer.

The bill was pushed back till Thursday to be read in the Senate.

Lawmakers also said that the legal age for drinking is 21, and for joining the army or smoking, the legal ages are 18.