As students, most of us learned that the power of the purse belongs to the legislative branch. Our founders wisely believed that those in charge of spending taxpayer money should be closest to the people- that they should represent them.
If you are politically progressive or live in one of the top five most populated cities in Wyoming, you will find that you are well represented by the Wyoming House Appropriations Committee. If you are traditionally conservative or live in a place other than Cheyenne, Casper or Laramie, you may find that those holding the purse strings wouldn’t agree with you on many matters of policy.
Nearly half of the House Appropriations Committee represents Cheyenne. One member represents Laramie. Another, Casper. Lawmakers from Rock Springs and Lander fill the other two slots. Not only do six of the seven members hail from county seats– urban population centers for a state like ours– every member votes with the Democrats over 80% of the time. That threshold increases when voting on how to spend tax dollars.
The House Appropriations Committee oversees every detail of the state’s budget and examines any bill that contains an appropriation, making this group of eager spenders the most powerful in the legislature. The group also had the opportunity to hear other bills of consequence during the most recent legislative session.
For example, the Appropriations Committee was sent House Bill 105, a measure to repeal gun free zones in Wyoming (despite the fact that the bill did not spend any tax dollars). The committee attempted to replace the bill with their own version- the only difference being that the committee’s substitute version ended up adding gun control measures to Wyoming law. Thankfully, this attempt to sneak gun control into the Wyoming statute books was unsuccessful.
The Appropriations Committee was also sent Senate File 144, a bill to ban the barbaric practice of chemical and surgical mutilation of minor children. The seven urbanites unironically mutilated the bill, stripping out prohibitions against removing healthy body parts of minors and deleting the bill’s enforcement mechanisms. This bill was sent to the committee even though it, like House Bill 105, did not contain an appropriation.
Also sent to the Appropriations Committee were two bills to protect Wyoming’s investments and key industries from the financially disastrous practices of ESG investing. After two hours of testimony on these measures, the committee unveiled its own substitute versions- again, lacking teeth and enforceability.
Important bills being sent to this powerful committee does not happen by accident. The Speaker of the House has the sole power to send bills to committees, along with the sole power to appoint members of committees. The decision to send these and other important bills to the Appropriations Committee was solely a decision of Speaker Albert Sommers.
It was also the Speaker’s decision to create an Appropriations Committee consisting only of socially liberal legislators from big cities, and now it appears that the President of the Senate sees some benefit in a Senate Appropriations committee loyal to the Uniparty’s cause as well.
In appointing a new chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, President Driskill is attempting to re-create the committee in his own image. Now, both the Senate and House Appropriations Committees are led by Cheyenne attorneys representing wealthy districts in Laramie County.
This, combined with the track record of the House Appropriations Committee, does not bode well for the rest of the state. While Wyoming citizens struggle with rising costs and taxes, the Cheyenne ruling oligarchy plans how they will spend your hard earned tax dollars.
Rep. John Bear, Wyoming House District 31
Chairman, Wyoming Freedom Caucus