By Cowboy State Daily
A measure giving private schools the same exemption from county zoning laws as public schools has been allowed to become law without the signature of Gov. Mark Gordon.
Gordon on Friday announced he would allow SF 49 to become law despite his belief that the measure is flawed.
“I believe this bill is flawed and so I will not sign it; but as I have done with other bills, I will take this opportunity to recommend that the Legislature and local governments continue to work to find a better way to sort out the types of impasse that begat this legislation closer to home,” he said.
The bill, sponsored by Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, surfaced after leaders of the Jackson Hole Classical Academy said they encountered regulatory problems in their attempts to build a new campus in Jackson.
The bill would allow private schools to be exempt from county zoning rules, but would require those schools to substantially meet the standards set for public schools, which are also exempt from county zoning laws.
Gordon, in a letter to Senate President Drew Perkins, R-Casper, also noted that many argued private and public schools should be subject to the same rules.
“The change in statute contemplated in this bill erodes some degree of local control from all counties in Wyoming,” he wrote. “I still do not believe this bill offers the correct solution although I recognize the uniqueness of the situation which occasioned it.”
Gordon urged the Legislature to continue its work on the issue to reach a better solution to such disputes.
“The passage of this bill sets an unfortunate precedent and one that I believe could be corrected with some diligence, equanimity and foresight,” he wrote. “At my core, I believe that government is best closest to the people and when it governs least. This bill sits in the saddle between those two. I am committed to working with the county commissions, municipalities, the Legislature, and the people of Wyoming to find a better way to resolve these sorts of conflicts.”
The bill was among the last for Gordon to act on from the Legislature’s general session, which ended in late February.
(Disclaimer: The Jackson Hole Classical Academy was founded by Steve and Polly Friess. Steve Friess is the son of former Republican gubernatorial candidate Foster Friess. Foster Friess is an investor in the Cowboy State Daily.)