Letter To The Editor: Sommers And Crago Are Quaking In Their Boots

Dear Editor: "Despite their numbers, the fat-cat Sommers, Crago, and their spend-happy brethren quake in their costly boots.  They feel the prairie winds shifting, carrying the robust aroma of fiscal conservatism, ready to topple their lofty tower..."

July 14, 20237 min read

Collage Maker 14 Jul 2023 05 05 PM 6483

Dear Editor:

 In the untamed expanse of Wyoming's political badlands, there roosts a daring posse of valiant conservatives known as the Wyoming Freedom Caucus.  These mavericks, as pesky as prairie dogs to some, serve as a relentless burr under the finely polished saddles of the pompous Speaker Albert Sommers and his lapdog, Rep. Barry Crago.  Yet, amidst their public caterwauling, they're as tight-lipped about the size of their vexing foe as a card player with a royal flush.

StateFreedomCaucus.org claims a motley crew of no more than a dozen legislators at the time of this writing.  The website notes that some members prefer anonymity.  Even if we were to count these unseen allies, equaling the number of those publicly declared, this renegade band would still be eight lawmakers short of a majority.  Yet, this veil of secrecy offers a handy smokescreen from the retributive lash of Sommers and his pack.  Those brave enough to publicly fly the Caucus's colors often find their committee assignments more sparse than tumbleweeds in December.

Despite their numbers, the fat-cat Sommers, Crago, and their spend-happy brethren quake in their costly boots.  They feel the prairie winds shifting, carrying the robust aroma of fiscal conservatism, ready to topple their lofty tower of profligacy.  Just look at Rep. Crago, who recently found himself as popular as a rattlesnake at a square dance for endorsing more spending amendments to the House Budget than any House Democrat.

Crago, always the artful dodger, tries to shift the blame onto the Wyoming Freedom Caucus.  Yet, he conveniently turns a blind eye to the significant number of property tax relief bills killed without a vote right under the eagle-eyed watch of Sommers and his posse.  And he sidesteps the specter of Medicaid Expansion, a pot of gold desired by liberals despite being rejected repeatedly.  Fortunately, the idea was stopped in its tracks like a spooked stallion by the Freedom Caucus.  Even when the well-intentioned HJ2 came along, Sommers and his dismal band blocked the Caucus from amending the resolution to cap property tax increases to fix the true problem faced by the hard-working citizens of Wyoming.

So, here we are, my fellow Wyomingites, duty-bound like cowpokes at a rodeo, to pull back the curtain and expose the deceit and manipulation of Sommers, Crago, and their company.  As the wise Mark Twain once said, 'It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.' So, let's stop playing the fool.  Let's stand with the Wyoming Freedom Caucus as they steer us toward a leaner, more efficient, and fiscally responsible government.

(Written with the help of ChatGPT, all data sourced from WyoLeg.govStateFreedomCaucus.org, and EvidenceBasedWyoming.com

Supporting data:

 HB (House Bills):

1.     HB0054 - Homestead exemption for primary residence - Died in committee, no recorded vote.

2.     HB0098 - Homeowners exemption for primary residence - Died in Senate Revenue Committee with no report.

3.     HB0121 - Property Tax deferral program - Died in Senate Revenue Committee Ayes: Senator Pappas Nays: Senator(s) Biteman, French, Ide, Mckeown

4.     HB0215 - Property tax exemption for elderly and veterans - Died in House Revenue Committee, no recorded vote.

5.     HB0227 - Increased assessed property value amount for veterans' annual exemption - Died in House Revenue Committee, no recorded vote.

6.     HB0236 - Tax exemption on Agricultural repair parts - Died in House Agriculture Committee, no recorded vote.

7.     HB0244 - Property Tax refund for rental properties - Died in House Revenue Committee, no recorded vote.

8.     HB0256 - Property Tax Holiday - reduction for 2023 - Died in House Revenue Committee, no recorded vote.

HJ (House Joint Resolutions):

1.     HJ0001 - Residential property taxation amendment. - Died in House Revenue Committee, no recorded vote.

2.     HJ0002 - Residential property classification addition tax code and constitution - Died in Committee of the Whole 37-25, not earning a two-thirds majority. Ayes: Representative(s) Allred, Andrew, Berger, Brown, Burkhart, Jr, Byron, Chadwick, Chestek, Clouston, Conrad, Crago, Davis, Eklund, Harshman, Henderson, Larsen, Lloyd, Larson, Jt, Lawley, Newsome, Nicholas, Niemiec, Northrup, Oakley, Obermueller, O'hearn, Olsen, Provenza, Speaker Sommers, Stith, Storer, Walters, Washut, Western, Wylie, Yin, Zwonitzer, Dan, Zwonitzer, Dave Nays: Representative(s) Allemand, Angelos, Banks, Bear, Haroldson, Heiner, Hornok, Jennings, Knapp, Locke, Neiman, Ottman, Pendergraft, Penn, Rodriguez[1]Williams, Sherwood, Singh, Slagle, Smith, Strock, Styvar, Tarver, Trujillo, Ward, Winter

3.     HJ0004 - Residential property classification - Died in House Revenue Committee, no recorded vote.

SF (Senate Files):

1.     SF0070 - Tax Holiday for schools - Died in Senate Revenue Committee, no recorded vote.

2.     SF0090 - Creating Property Tax Relief Authority - Died, wasn't considered in the Senate Committee of the Whole.

3.     SF0104 - Property Tax mill levy adjustments - SF0070 - Tax Holiday for schools - Died in Senate Revenue Committee, no recorded vote.

4.     SF0110 - Personal Property Tax exemption - Failed third reading 14 to 17. Ayes: Senator(s) Biteman, Bouchard, Brennan, Dockstader, Ellis, French, Hicks, Hutchings, Ide, Kinskey, Laursen, Mckeown, Salazar, Scott Nays: Senator(s) Anderson, Baldwin, Barlow, Boner, Case, Cooper, Furphy, Gierau, Jones, Kolb, Landen, Nethercott, Pappas, President Driskill, Rothfuss, Schuler, Steinmetz 

5.     SF0125 - Property Tax limiting maximum taxable value increase - Died, wasn't considered in the Senate Committee of the Whole.

6.     SF0138 - Decreases Property Tax assessment rate - Died in House Appropriations Committee. Ayes: Representative(s) Larsen, Stith Nays: Representative(s) Henderson, Nicholas, Sherwood, Walters, Zwonitzer

SJ (Senate Joint Resolutions):

1.     SJ0012 - Constitutional amendment-property tax valuation. - Died in committee. Ayes: Senator Biteman Nays: Senator(s) French, Ide, Mckeown, Pappas

Passed Bills, Senate File, and Resolutions:

1.     HB0099 - Property Tax Refund program - Passed as House Enrolled Act 142. Ayes: Representative(s) Allred, Andrew, Angelos, Bear, Berger, Brown, Burkhart, Jr, Chadwick, Chestek, Clouston, Conrad, Crago, Davis, Eklund, Haroldson, Harshman, Heiner, Henderson, Knapp, Larsen, Lloyd, Larson, Jt, Lawley, Locke, Newsome, Niemiec, Northrup, Oakley, Obermueller, O'hearn, Olsen, Ottman, Provenza, Rodriguez-Williams, Sherwood, Slagle, Smith, Speaker Sommers, Stith, Strock, Styvar, Tarver, Trujillo, Walters, Ward, Washut, Western, Winter, Wylie, Yin, Zwonitzer, Dan Nays: Representative(s) Allemand, Banks, Byron, Hornok, Jennings, Neiman, Nicholas, Pendergraft, Penn, Singh, Storer, Zwonitzer, Dave 

2.     SJ0003 - Amends Constitution for tax exemption elderly and infirm - passed to become Senate Enrolled Joint Resolution 3. Ayes: Senator(s) Anderson, Baldwin, Barlow, Biteman, Boner, Bouchard, Brennan, Cooper, Dockstader, French, Gierau, Ide, Jones, Kinskey, Landen, Mckeown, Nethercott, Pappas, Rothfuss, Salazar, Schuler, Scott Nays: Senator(s) Case, Ellis, Furphy, Hicks, Hutchings, Kolb, Laursen, Steinmetz.

3.     HB0174 - Homestead exemption for primary residence - Passed the Legislature to become House Enrolled Act 39. Ayes: Senator(s) Anderson, Baldwin, Barlow, Biteman, Boner, Bouchard, Brennan, Cooper, Dockstader, French, Furphy, Gierau, Hicks, Hutchings, Ide, Jones, Kinskey, Landen, Laursen, Mckeown, Nethercott, President Driskill, Rothfuss, Salazar, Schuler, Scott Nays: Senator(s) Case, Kolb, Pappas

Wyoming Freedom Caucus Members

1.     REP. JOHN BEAR - CHAIRMAN

2.     REP. JEREMY HAROLDSON - VICE CHAIR

3.     REP. CHRIS KNAPP

4.     REP. PEPPER OTTMAN

5.     REP. SCOTT HEINER

6.     REP. JOHN WINTER

7.     REP. RACHEL RODRIGUEZ-WILLIAMS

8.     REP. ALLEN SLAGLE

9.     REP. BILL ALLEMAND

10.  REP. JEANETTE WARD

11.  REP. SCOTT SMITH

12.  REP. TOMI STROCK

Sincerely,

Doug Gerard,

Gillette, Wy

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