Shooting The Breeze With Cat And Rod: Previewing The 67th Wyoming Legislature

Columnists Cat Urbigkit and Rod Miller team up to discuss Wyoming's 67th Legislature. Or as Cat puts it "It's been too long since we've annoyed CSD readers with our insightful political punditry..."

Cat Urbigkit

January 11, 20235 min read

Collage Maker 11 Jan 2023 04 30 PM
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

By Cat Urbigkit and Rod Miller
Miller and Urbigkit are opinion columnists

Cat Urbigkit: Rod, it’s been too long since we’ve annoyed CSD readers with our insightful political punditry, so editor Jimmy’s baiting us into doing it again, turning our focus to the Wyoming Legislature.

There are lots of new faces in Cheyenne this session, and it’s going to be interesting to see what plays out.

While we have some members who seem focused on what I view as the agenda of national conservative groups, I’m heartened that there are far more members focused on the nuts-and-bolts of making Wyoming government work better for the people.

Care to make any predictions?

Rod Miller: Lemme gaze into my crystal ball, Cat.  Ok, I see a few of the Freedom Caucus, populist GOP wingnuts trying to hijack the lege for their own soapbox. But I predict they’ll do little more than make bigger fools of themselves.

I think both Ogden Driskill and Albert Sommers will prove to be good trailbosses, fully capable of keeping the rowdies out of the bars and houses of ill-repute while the herd’s in town.

It might be the case that this session will be less about legislation than it is about the behavior of our elected representatives.

There is an element within both houses that appears to be more interested in food fights and sound bites than good governance. If leadership can keep those nincompoops in line, they just might get some important work done.

Cat Urbigkit: Based on the bills that have already been filed, there is some good and serious work ahead.

Most of the about 200 pre-filed bills are sponsored by committees, and these committees have done their homework, considered public input, and have crafted bills to fine-tune and improve various programs. But we’ll have hundreds more bills filed in the coming weeks, and that’s when it’s sure to get crazy.

So while I’ve got high hopes, I know there was some selective hearing going on during Governor Mark Gordon’s State of the State address to the legislature Wednesday morning.

Governor Gordon reminded legislators of a longstanding Republican principle in which “government works best when it is closest to the people and when restrained from interfering with personal liberty.” I was cheering when I heard that, but I’m guessing some will prefer to ignore the whole ‘restraint from interfering with personal liberty’ thing.

Rod Miller: Yep, too many of the self-styled “libertarians” need to spend a lot more time reading Mill, Voltaire and Paine, and less time listening to InfoWars.  There is too much work to be done to spend time posturing.

The situation in the Colorado River drainage is dire enough that the Wyoming Legislature needs to address it from a different direction than culture war rhetoric. 

While both our Trigger Law and corner crossing are currently meandering through the judicial system, if either issue requires legislative action during the session, that action must be the clear-headed kind, and not knee-jerk populism.

The state is relatively flush right now, and there should be dough enough to take care of our needs.  So it will be instructive to watch which direction the money gets thrown. Both Deep Throat and the Apostle Matthew (6:21) spoke to this.

Cat Urbigkit: You are so right on the Colorado River situation. That’s why Representative Sommers and Senator Larry Hicks are sponsoring HB60, establishing the Colorado River authority.

Sommers and Hicks know their stuff, and the rest of the legislature needs to follow their lead on this one.

Speaking of knowing where your treasure is, the Wyoming Republican Party State Central Committee has outlined its legislative priorities.

Promoting Wyoming’s vast energy resources, strengthening our educational system, and saving funds for the future while addressing inflation all made the list.

Oops, my bad. That was Governor Gordon’s list, not the GOP’s.

The GOP’s top 7 legislative priorities are:
1) Election Integrity
2) Runoff Elections
3) Pro-life Legislation
4) Oppose all New Taxes with the Exception of Parity Taxes on Energy
5) No New Protected Classes of People
6) No Legalization of Marijuana
7) Audit of Wyoming’s Relationship with the Federal Government

Rod Miller: All hummed, I would assume, to the tune of Big Rock Candy Mountain. 

I couldn’t help but notice that the Wyoming klavern of the Freedom Caucus wants legislative rules changed to do something about clipping the wings of all those moderate Republicans who keep foiling the Freedom Caucus’ agenda.

Now THERE is a worthwhile issue for the entire legislature to tackle, an intramural pissing match among Republicans. Sheeesh!

Like Hunter Thompson advised, “Buy the ticket, take the ride,” so grab a deep seat and a tight rein, Cat. 

I think we should check in with each other from time to time during the session, to compare notes and kibbitz about the electeds. Approached with a healthy sense of irony, a citizen legislature can be fun to watch.

Cat Urbigkit: Let’s do that,Rod. Good to chat off and on today, as I took breaks from feeding hay and getting one truck after another stuck in the snow. Time to wrestle out of the snowboots and have a snort of sour mash. Cheers, my friend, ‘til next time!

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Cat Urbigkit

Public Lands and Wildlife Columnist