Members of the Wyoming House Freedom Caucus on Monday voted with House Democrats to stop hearing new bills before hearing a ban on transgender treatments for children.
Senate File 144, “Chloe’s Law,” is now dead after missing the state House of Representatives deadline for its first reading in the chamber. The bill would have allowed the state to revoke doctors’ licenses for performing transgender treatments on children.
Majority Floor Leader Rep. Chip Neiman, R-Hulett, called for the House to stop voting on new bills before it heard Chloe’s Law.
“I believe it was the right thing to do,” said Neiman in a text to Cowboy State Daily. “We made a full effort to get Chloe’s Law to the right committee and it was rejected by the body.”
The House Freedom Caucus tried twice to send Chloe’s Law to the House Health and Labor Committee, arguing that it was the proper committee for the bill. However, the House Appropriations Committee received the bill instead, altered it, and demoted it to a last-priority status.
Neiman said another bill that died alongside Chloe’s Law, Senate File 35, had a $10 million price tag, and was a main reason he called for the end.
But Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, who sponsored Chloe’s Law, said the bill’s death didn’t bother him because the Appropriations Committee changed it so much last week. Bouchard said he believes the changes were equivalent to the bill’s death.
“They killed it by gutting it,” he said.
House Speaker Pro Temp Rep. Clark Stith, R-Rock Springs, disagreed with that assessment, saying that even the amended version of the bill would have outlawed child gender transition surgeries.
“There is broad consensus on that issue, so it is unfortunate we could not get that past the finish line,” said Stith in a text to Cowboy State Daily.
Stith voted in favor of Chloe’s Law during the Appropriations Committee meeting.
Freedom Caucus And Dems Voted Together
Neiman is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of Republicans which usually fights for bills like Chloe’s Law. But Neiman and other members of the caucus voted to cut the voting short. From the video of the meeting, the following caucus members are shown standing in approval:
Reps. Allen Slagle (Newcastle), Clarence Styvar (Cheyenne), Tomi Strock (Douglas), Tamara Trujillo (Cheyenne), Ken Pendergraft (Sheridan), Dalton Banks (Cowley), John Bear (Gillette), Reuben Tarver (Gillette), Bill Allemand (Midwest), Mark Jennings (Sheridan).
They stood alongside Democrats Ken Chestek (Laramie), Liz Storer (Jackson), Mike Yin (Jackson) and Karlee Provenza (Laramie), who also can be seen voting to end the bills debate.
“It was very interesting to see that dynamic,” said Neiman. He said he also was grateful the House majority supported his motion with its vote.
“They certainly could have gone the other way, and we’d have stayed there and kept going – that was their choice,” he said.
Stith voted against ending the debate on new bills. He said he would have liked to get through the rest of the list.
Still, he added, “we got a lot done today… We had spirited, respectful and civilized debate.”
Chloe’s Law died with the gesture, but other bills did as well.
Senate File 136, a bill by social-conservative Sen. Bo Biteman, R-Ranchester, also died. It would have cut property taxes temporarily. Two more Biteman bills diverting state funds away from companies that use social credit scores in their decision-making also died. Biteman’s bills were low on the House priority list after they too received condemning votes from the Appropriations Committee.
Other bills that died included a Senate Joint resolution recognizing the service of late Congressman Lester Hunt; a transportation funding bill with a $150,000 price tag; a bill commanding school districts to adopt anti-bullying policies; and a bill clarifying that the state is responsible for tax assessment on independent power producers’ property.
House Speaker Rep. Albert Sommers, R-Pinedale, this month sent Chloe’s Law to his most experienced panel, the House Appropriations Committee, despite objections from the caucus that it should have gone to the Health and Labor Committee instead.
The Appropriations Committee voted to send Chloe’s Law to the bottom of the House’s list of bills, making it a last priority.
Sommers told Cowboy State Daily at the time that he didn’t expect the Appropriations Committee to disadvantage the bill, and he sent it to that committee because of the members’ vast experience.