By Rod Miller and Cat Urbigkit
Miller and Urbigkit are opinion columnists
Cat Urbigkit: Hey Rod, now that the legislature is in its final throes, seems like good time to check in. The year is off to a strange start, so let’s talk about things that we didn’t see coming. (As an aside, I didn’t have a Chinese spy balloon getting shot down by the military on my bingo card for the year, although as a bona fide American redneck, I enthusiastically support shooting strange objects out of the sky.) Tell me, what was a surprise to you this legislative session?
Rod Miller: Well Cat, while our lege didn’t directly address Commie balloon artistry in the sky, they did put a bunch of weird stuff on the table this session. For instance, it looks like our legislators want us to eat horse meat, they don’t want employers to slip microchips into our bodies, and they want to punish doctors who take scalpels to the gonads of babies. As a circumsized cowboy, I’m here to tell them that they’re seventy-two years too late.
These culture war “showboat” bills really aren’t that surprising though, given the ascendancy of the Wyoming Freedom Caucus. I have been pleasantly surprised, however, that most of their ALEC-influenced legislative initiatives have sputtered out and died. And their response has been to cry and whine about leftist pinko leadership in both houses that isn’t taking its role in the battle between good and evil seriously enough. Their response is not surprising.
Cat Urbigkit: Not on my bingo card was that 25 House Republicans would oppose a bill prohibiting child marriages. According to the voting records of the Wyoming Freedom Caucus, a pregnant child should not only have to carry the pregnancy to term, but that girl’s parents should also be allowed to arrange for a child marriage. Because, you know, family values, parental rights, etc.
To top it off, 15 of those same folks voted against Senator Fred Baldwin’s bill providing for safe care plans for newborns with alcohol or drug exposure. This wasn’t a spending bill, so the opposition wasn’t based on that.
The good news is that both these bills passed, despite opposition from what you’ve been calling “drugstore conservatives.” Have you come up with a better name yet?
Rod Miller: Not yet. The entries are still trickling in. I’m gonna compile ’em in a couple days, and submit ’em to our CSD Panel of Experts to come up with a winner for that new set of steak knives. So far nobody has submitted the moniker “TARP” for True American Republican Patriots,” but I don’t think all the suggestions have come in yet from the Park County Republican Men’s Full Gospel Gun and Glee Club. So far, the nickname for the Eathorne wing of the party that has grabbed my attention is “Platformicators.” That one has a ring to it.
Also, in the “not surprising” category, we have Harriet Hageman taking time out from her grueling work in Congress to lean on leadership in our legislature to pass some of these goofball Wyoming Freedom Caucus l bills. And “Hair On Fire” Harriet has the temerity to shove her weight around with the likes of Ogden Driskill and Albert Sommers. I couldn’t agree more with your characterization of those gentleman as Cowboys deserving the name.
Now, about Romeo Bouchard ….
Cat Urbigkit: You’re just trying to bait me into a discussion of the ethics-and-decorum-impaired section of the Senate. He’s Wyoming’s version of Marjorie Taylor Greene, but with an anger management problem. Just having to serve alongside a guy who sees evil and corruption in anyone who disagrees with him should qualify legislators for a pay boost – which they haven’t had in about 20 years anyway. Instead of hazard pay, they could call it the Bouchard Boost.
The stunner for me this week was when Wyoming Freedom Caucus members stood with all five House Democrats to end debate on House bills Monday – after all their complaints about House Speaker Albert Sommers sitting on a few bills and not allowing debate. Sommers committed to keeping the House in session through the evening so that all the bills could be heard, but Freedom Caucus member and Majority Floor Leader Representative Chip Neiman called for a halt to the proceedings, killing 9 bills in the process. Why? Because one of the bills on the docket came with a $10 million price tag. What nefarious thing was going to be funded? School crosswalks. Stunning.
Rod Miller: It may be wishful thinking on my part, but it looks like to me that this session was the high water mark of the Freedom Caucus. Their brittle, antagonistic, bombastic form of populism appears to be wearing thin with folks. It certainly hasn’t borne much legislative fruit. And the infighting has begun within their ranks. Their behavior contrasts starkly with that of Driskill and Sommers, and they don’t come out well in the comparison.
But there’s always next year. And there’s already scuttlebutt about an interim study to come up with a bill to wrest federal lands from the federal government. Talk about dead horses, sheeesh!
I’m reaching for the whiskey now. These are always fun, Cat. Thanks!
Cat Urbigkit: Easy there, pardner. They’ve still got at least another day for shenanigans, so hold onto your hat – it ain’t over yet!