A power outage was a minor hiccup for Wyoming lawmakers in Cheyenne on Friday afternoon, but ultimately didn’t slow their work at the state Capitol.
According to Black Hills Energy, the outage, which began around 2 p.m., impacted 4,050 customers throughout downtown Cheyenne and outlying areas, mostly in the west part of the city.
Deep in their debates on the 2023 supplemental budget that had to be completed by the end of the day, members of the state House and Senate couldn’t use the outage as an excuse to play hooky.
Lawmakers relied nearly completely on natural light into their chambers through the handful of windows in each hall and stained-glass ceilings above.
“It almost feels like a throwback to the way things were done before the invention of electricity,” said Rep. Daniel Singh, R-Cheyenne.
Singh was returning from lunch when the outage hit and was locked out from the parking garage, forcing him to park on the street outside the Capitol. He was late, but so was the rest of the body as House staff had to adjust to continue without having to rely on microphones.
Also lost was the livestream of legislative happenings on YouTube, as the video cameras had no power to source from.
Rep. Landon Brown, R-Cheyenne, said this may have to some shorter debates.
“It’s kind of cool not debating for the cameras and doing it with only our voices,” Brown said.
Backup generators kept the hallways of the Capitol mostly lit, rendering the power outage no worse than a mild inconvenience. The power was restored by about 3:15 p.m.
This isn’t the first outage a Wyoming Legislature has had to deal with.
Matt Obrecht, director of the Legislative Service Office, said they lost power in 2018 while working off-site because of renovations at the Capitol.
“It was even weirder because that building didn’t have any windows,” Obrecht said.
He said this resulted in people reading bills they were considering aided by the lights from their cellphones.
He said prior to those renovations at the Capitol that the Legislature would not have been able to continue working as there were no windows in either chamber.
Since the Legislature already convened by the time of the outage, the body still has to count the day toward its overall allotment of 37.