Gov. Gordon Criticizes Out-Of-State Influences; Rep. Bear Calls Gordon “Arrogant” For Criticism

In remarks to the Legislature on Friday, Gov Gordon criticized legislation that was modeled on bills already passed in other states. Rep. John Bear said Gordon's remarks were "arrogant" and an excuse for "more conservative bills not passing."

Leo Wolfson

March 04, 20234 min read

Collage Maker 03 Mar 2023 05 25 PM 6359
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

In his end of the legislative remarks made to the Wyoming Legislature on Friday afternoon, Gov. Mark Gordon made it clear how he feels about legislation brought by national groups that may have already passed in other states. 

He told the Senate to remember that Wyoming is a unique state, which “should always focus on finding Wyoming solutions for Wyoming problems.” 

When Gordon delivered an almost identical remark in the House, it was met with tepid applause from some of the more conservative members of the body.  

A number of bills brought by hardline conservatives this year were modeled or directly copied off bills already passed in other states, and many of these legislators used this as justification for passing their bills. Gordon acknowledged this practice as “tempting,” but urged against it. 

He said what Washington, D.C. gives Wyoming is laws, think tanks and model legislation not crafted for the state. 

“It’s crafted for a national agenda,” he said. 

State Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette, chairman of the Wyoming Freedom Caucus, found fault with these arguments. The Freedom Caucus has been supported by a Washington, D.C.-based State Freedom Caucus Network since January. 

“It’s pretty arrogant to think that all bills made out of a state would be a bad fit for Wyoming,” he said. 

Bear said many issues hit other states first due to their larger population sizes. He said this gives these other states time to weed out problems and address issues before they come to Wyoming.

Bear believes Gordon’s arguments represent something else.

“It’s his way of excusing more conservative bills not passing,” he said.

Bill Thoughts 

Gordon complimented the Legislature for putting $1.4 billion into savings as part of its final supplemental budget, a move he said will allow tax dollars to benefit future generations. 

There was also legislation passed that will redesign the way money is saved. 

Gordon also complimented the passage of House Bill 4, a bill that extends postpartum Medicaid in Wyoming. He signed into law this legislation shortly after giving his speech, and described it as a “truly pro-life bill.” 

Gordon said he was disappointed that House Bill 83 died on third reading in the Senate. This legislation would have authorized the governor to negotiate and enter into agreements with tribes concerning hunting, fishing, trapping and gathering rights claims.

Gordon mentioned how he was recently informed by Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Cam Sholly that around 1,000 head of bison have been harvested by Native American tribes in the past two weeks at the Park.  

“No one was trying to overstep anyone’s rights,” Gordon said. “As citizens of Wyoming we were working to come together on an agreement, which would last beyond court challenges, beyond legal lawsuits.” 

Gordon said he remains optimistic the state’s relationship with the tribes remains strong and he will continue to work on this issue. 

Ag Focus In The House 

Gordon gave a slightly different speech to the House. 

Here, he made a point on agriculture, mentioning how his office is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and U.S. Department of Agriculture on getting emergency assistance for Wyoming’s livestock producers concerning the recent harsh winter storms. Rep. Bill Allemand, R-Midwest, rose first to give Gordon a standing ovation on this matter, which the representative had met with the governor about.  

“We know this has been a very tough winter,” Gordon said. 

Gordon said the possibility of delivering hay to livestock by aerial means is also being considered, but this option is very expensive. 

Until Next Time… 

Gordon expressed glowing pride for Wyoming in both speeches and said the state government understands the importance of separating its three branches while still valuing the importance of friendships and community. 

He said he is looking forward to the upcoming interim session and ended both his speeches on a high note. 

“God bless you for your work, may God grace you with a safe travel home,” he said. 

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter