Dave Simpson: What A Disappointing Legislative Session For The Reddest State In America

Dave Simpson writes: "The real mind-blower was rejecting (via the Speaker's drawer) the bill prohibiting the teaching of gender identity and sexual orientation to children. Have we lost our minds? This is the bill they shoved in the Speaker's drawer to kill?"

Dave Simpson

March 06, 20234 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

If you aren’t a little ticked off after this latest session of the Wyoming Legislature, you might be a Weak Sauce Republican.

Or a Democrat. (So few in number, yet wily and curiously effective, Wyoming Democrats tend to punch above their weight. Weak Sauce Republicans are putty in their hands – or simply undercover Democrats – which is why the state that scored the highest percentage of Trump votes doesn’t look all that Trump-like in its legislature.)

The rest of us, however, are Crazy (Like Us) Republicans, who while gaining in number in recent elections, still tend to get bamboozled on legislation we deem important, or caught short when bills we support end up dying in the Speaker’s drawer.

It’s the way the game is played, we’re told. The clever opposition might shanghai your bill at the last minute, amend it to say something entirely different, then laugh at you for not voting for what was once your own bill.

I admit I’m a Crazy (Like Us) Republican. And I’m happy that a couple common sense measures we like managed to survive the legislative obstacle course.

If you ask me –  and I can’t help noticing that you didn’t – it makes sense to prevent voters (Democrats) from switching parties in primary elections to support their least despised (Republican) opponent, or the most easily defeated (Republican) opponent. Primaries should be about choosing your preferred candidate, not about duplicity. Making folks declare their party before the candidate filing period makes sense. Let the Hatfields pick the Hatfields, and the McCoys pick the McCoys.

The theory has been forwarded, however, that this will simply encourage Democrats to become Republicans full time, to ensure the weakest Republican candidates.

Democrats masquerading as Republicans?  You know, just like in the legislature.

(Pundit Dan Bongino says in Congress, “There are many Republicans who are really Democrats, but no Democrats who are really Republicans.” Sound familiar?

The governor let that bill become law without his signature. Crazy (Like Us) Republicans no doubt are happy.

The other bright spot is the bill prohibiting boys from playing girls’ sports. I swam in high school, and the notion of guys competing against girls is ridiculous, as proven by trans swimmer Lia Thomas’s unfair domination. But our liberal friends are willing to jeopardize Title IX and women’s sports to support trans athletes. This bill is clearly needed, but it failed last year, and only barely survived the legislative process this year. We’ll see if the governor signs it.

Then there are the disappointments.

 At the very time we’re learning about Covid vaccines not performing as promised, and posing their own serious health risks, our legislature rejected a bill to prohibit mandatory vaccinations. Even the military isn’t requiring Covid vaccinations anymore. And the legislature rejected a bill that would have prohibited your employer from planting a chip in your body, like chipping a dog. (Glad I’m retired. I’ll be OK until they chip Social Security recipients.)

The real mind-blower was rejecting (via the Speaker’s drawer) the bill prohibiting “teaching gender identity and sexual orientation” to children in Third Grade and younger. That’s after it passed 18 to 12 in the Senate. Who on earth wants to talk about sex and gender to these little kids? Have we lost our minds? This is the bill they shoved into the Speaker’s drawer to kill?

Heaven help the elementary school teacher who strays into the subjects of sex and gender with my little grand daughters. I can’t think of anything that would result in two home-schooled kids sooner.

Likewise with the bill – unsuccessful – prohibiting trans gender surgery on teenagers. This Trump-country state can’t even pass a common sense bill protecting our vulnerable, evolving, sometimes confused kids from life-altering surgeries and drug treatments? And yet, that’s where we are, thanks to the Weak Sauce Republicans and a few persuasive Democrats.

As for the Crazy (Like Us) Republicans, we’re gaining in lawmakers and hard-won experience. We’ve got some real bulldogs on our side, so I remain optimistic.

But, for now, I’m often reminded of a quote from famed New York Mets Coach Casey Stengel:

“Can’t anyone here” (on our side) “play this game?”

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Dave Simpson

Political, Wyoming Life Columnist

Dave has written a weekly column about a wide variety of topics for 39 years, winning top columnist awards in Wyoming, Colorado, Illinois and Nebraska.