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By Leo Wolfson, State Politics Reporter
State Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, is outraged that his bill that would prohibit doctors from performing underage gender-change treatments has been relegated to the bottom of the Wyoming majority floor leader’s drawer.
“If the WY GOP does NOT publicly censure the Speaker and the members of the Appropriations Committee for killing SF-144, Chloe’s Law. They are part of the problem!” Bouchard posted to his Twitter account Wednesday night.
House Speaker Rep. Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale, has deferred to the House Appropriations Committee, which voted against SF 144, aka Chloe’s Law.
The committee expressed concerns about the constitutionality of the proposed legislation and whether it fits with a Wyoming Constitution provision promising Wyomingites autonomy in their health care decisions.
The committee changed Chloe’s Law significantly and returned it to the House floor with a 5-2 “do not pass” recommendation, which puts it at the back of the line of the House’s hearing schedule.
The deadline for hearing bills that have advanced out of committee is Monday.
Bouchard Calls Out ‘Liberal Republicans’
“When they motion, do not pass, it goes to the bottom of the general file,” Bouchard told a commenter to his original post. “With do not pass, it has low priority. And all other bills must be heard first. The liberal-Republicans are the WY Democrats.”
Sommers told Cowboy State Daily that despite Bouchard’s protests, he believes the bill will be heard before the deadline.
SF 144 Not The Only One
He has kept in his drawer – a term used for sitting on legislation and letting it die without taking action on it – SF 117, which would forbid public school teachers from teaching sexual orientation and gender identity themes to children kindergarten through third grade. Sommers has not assigned this bill to a committee.
In that case, Sommers told Cowboy State Daily there are serious concerns the bill may not pass constitutional muster.
He also is sitting on Senate File 111, a bill that would have enabled prosecutors to charge anyone administering or performing child gender change treatments with child abuse.
Sommers said he didn’t assign the bill to a committee because it was similar to Chloe’s Law, but Chloe’s law was better, which is why he assigned it to the committee.
Sommers Has Support
In a Thursday press release, House Speaker Pro Tempore Rep. Clark Stith, R-Rock Springs, defended the decisions made by Legislature leadership this session.
“It is the role of the leadership of the House of Representatives to ensure our limited time resources are not wasted on bills that represent bad policy for our citizens or duplicate bills that have already died,” he said. “That is why we must focus on the bills that will move Wyoming forward.”
He went on to say that pushing through legislation with obvious problems will likely lead to challenges, which could mean wasted time and effort.
“Bills that are poorly written, negate local control, legislation that restricts the rights of people, duplicate bills or debate or risk costly litigation financed by the state are not ready for the green books and will not be considered,” Stith said.
Although it has been happening with increasing frequency in recent years, a censure from the Wyoming GOP is not necessarily a well-timed event.
These censures typically come during the party’s central committee meetings, which are held quarterly throughout the year. The next central committee meeting is scheduled for May.
Bouchard told Cowboy State Daily he has heard “not a word” from the state party about his request.
Wyoming Republicans recently condemned U.S. Sen. Cynthia Lummis during their meeting in January for her vote to support the federal Respect for Marriage Act, which codifies same sex marriage into federal law.
The Fremont County GOP also took a vote to censure her, but it did not pass.
A condemnation is considered a lesser rebuke than a censure.
The last censure from the party came at its meeting in September 2022 when it censured Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, for attempting to recruit an independent candidate to challenge Secretary of State Chuck Gray in his general election campaign.
The party also garnered national attention for censuring former congresswoman Liz Cheney when she spoke out against former President Donald Trump, prompting the Republican National Committee to later follow suit.
‘WY Woke Republicans’ Running the Show
In a separate social media post Thursday morning, Bouchard lambasted the Legislature’s lack of movement on his bill.
He included a link to a Tuesday press release from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who said he believes sex-change procedures performed on minors is child abuse under Texas law.
“What a CONTRAST other RED States are to Wyoming!” Bouchard tweeted. “Republicans in a WY House Committee voted as a block to GUT and KILL SF-144 Chloe’s Law! Texas is just another example of what is going on. WY Woke Republicans are in control of the House!”
Although Wyoming voted for Trump by a larger margin than any other state in 2020, some Republicans have complained that the leadership within the Legislature isn’t conservative enough.
“We need Wyoming solutions to Wyoming problems,” said Stith. “This session the Legislature has seen a lot of bills that were not written in Wyoming.
“These nationally written bills often come with a one-size-fits-all approach that requires more vetting to ensure they solve Wyoming problems and not create problems.”