Lawmakers Argue Over Committee Assignment For Child Sex Change Bill

Some Wyoming lawmakers Thursday challenged state House leadership over which committee should hear Chloe's Law, which would prevent doctors from performing or prescribing transgender-related treatments for kids.

Clair McFarland

February 17, 20233 min read

State House Speaker Rep. Albert Sommers, left, and Rep. John Bear.
State House Speaker Rep. Albert Sommers, left, and Rep. John Bear. (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

Proponents of a proposal to outlaw transgender-related treatments for minors in Wyoming tried on Thursday to transfer the bill to a state House committee that may be more sympathetic to passing it.  

But that wasn’t the reason the bill’s proponents gave for attempting the transfer.  

Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette, asked Thursday during a House floor session to pull “Chloe’s Law,” Senate File 144, from the House Appropriations Committee and schedule it instead with the House Labor, Health and Social Services Committee.  

House Speaker Rep. Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale, referred Chloe’s Law to the Appropriations Committee on Wednesday after it crossed to the House with the Senate’s approval.   

Sommers overruled Bear’s request, saying House rules only allow a committee transfer on a bill if the assigned committee didn’t hear it in a “reasonable amount of time.” 

Only one day had passed since he referred the bill to Appropriations, Sommers said, adding that’s not enough time to justify shifting the bill to a different committee. 

The Challenge 

Bear didn’t accept the speaker’s response and challenged Sommers’ decision.  

“I think this is something that the state is very interested in setting in policy, so I believe we should advance it,” said Bear.  

That prompted debate from other House members about Bear’s challenge. 

Those backing the challenge argued that the Appropriations Committee is very busy, whereas the Labor Committee has a looser schedule and could hear the bill Friday morning.  

Representatives opposing Bear’s challenge said the Appropriations Committee consists of experienced House members and meets more often than other committees.  

Rep. Cyrus Western, R-Big Horn, said he supports Chloe’s Law but opposed the challenge because demanding a transfer after just one day would be “premature.”  

Rep. Pepper Ottman, R-Riverton, countered, saying the Labor Committee could hear the bill as early as Friday morning, and committee chairman Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, is “more than willing” to hear it.  

Zwonitzer did not testify on the challenge.  

Appropriations Will Hear It

The chairman of the Appropriations Committee, Rep. Bob Nicholas, R-Cheyenne, disputed the challenge and said he plans to hear Chloe’s law on Tuesday.  

Multiple members on the Labor Committee, including Republican Reps. Sarah Penn (Lander), Jeanette Ward (Casper) and Ken Clouston (Gillette), tend to vote in favor of Republican-sponsored bills confronting social issues.  

But delegates speaking on Bear’s challenge did not address the outlook for Chloe’s Law in either committee: they instead argued within the “reasonable amount of time” rule.  

The sponsor of Chloe’s Law, Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, said he does believe the Labor Committee would be more sympathetic toward the bill. He indicated that he also believes the Labor Committee would have been a better fit to hear it.  

“Why would a bill such as Chloe’s Law be put in one of the busiest committees in the Legislature when Health and Labor’s schedule is so light?” asked Bouchard. “That’s the question the voters should be asking themselves.”  

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Clair McFarland

Crime and Courts Reporter