When I was first elected to Wyoming’s state legislature in 2018, I asked a seasoned legislator if he had any advice for me. Without hesitation, he asked, “Do you want to be taken seriously?” Of course, I answered in the affirmative.
He responded, “If you want to be taken seriously, be a serious legislator.” I have thought a lot about that conversation over the years and what he meant by that. I have come to learn that public service is serious business.
I have learned that being a serious legislator means focusing on the things that make Wyoming better, trying to build solutions to the difficult problems our people are facing, working with my constituents, listening to their problems and finding ways to solve them. Being a serious legislator also means refraining from the finger pointing and the performance politics that infects every level of our politics today.
To that end, late last year, my fellow conservatives and I introduced an agenda for the upcoming state legislative session in February that we’ve called “A Conservative Commitment to Wyoming.”
I was raised in Wyoming and every day I feel grateful for the beautiful, free, and prosperous state which my family and I call home. I feel truly blessed to be fortunate enough to serve this state in the State Legislature.
However, because Wyoming is the best state in the nation doesn’t mean we don’t have serious and urgent problems to tackle. Together, based on our conservative principles, we can solve those problems and make Wyoming better.
Our success as a state has attracted newcomers over the past several years who now call Wyoming home. As longtime Wyomingites know all too well, this has meant increased home values—and higher property taxes that have followed as a result.
Those on fixed incomes or who otherwise find themselves in the situation of suddenly not being able to afford to live in their own homes need property tax relief. That’s why we’ve proposed giving homeowners an exemption on the first $75,000 of home value while simultaneously capping increases at 5% to solve this problem.
True conservatives believe in lower tax without hurting local governments, those closest to the people. At the same time, we protect Wyoming citizens from seeing their property tax increase simply because the value of their home increased.
Second, Wyomingites deserve affordable heat and electricity to their homes. We are blessed as a resource rich state and the families that live here should be able to flip on the lights and keep themselves warm during the winter without worrying about utility bills breaking the bank.
Too often, our utilities build infrastructure and incur expenses based on the priorities and policies of left coast liberal states like Oregon and Washington. Under our proposal, that would no longer be possible. We will make sure that those utilities spend money based on what is best for Wyoming.
Ensuring Wyoming continues to flourish while maintaining the values that make this state great means we must deliver for the next generation a quality education in our schools.
Our educational agenda must prioritize respecting the rights of parents who know their children best. This is why we’ve introduced legislation that would protect our public school system while empowering parents to make the choice of where to send their kids to school.
Parents also deserve to know what their kids are being taught in school—full curriculum transparency—and to be respected as a vital, leading part of their child’s education and development. True conservatives support a parent's bill of rights.
We are also living through a mental health crisis in our country that is especially felt here in Wyoming. We are seeing more and more people feeling isolated or unsure of where to turn when they need help. Wyoming has one of the worst suicide rates in the country.
One doesn’t need to ask around too much to hear heartbreaking stories from folks about the loved ones they’ve lost. Every life is precious, and we should be doing all we can to support our fellow citizens who are most at risk of taking their own life. That’s why we intend to fully fund our suicide hotline number and ensure resources are available to those contemplating this tragic decision. True conservatives are 100% pro-life from conception to natural death.
I love Wyoming and I love serving my neighbors, my community, and my state in the legislature. I know that’s also true of every one of my colleagues. Every elected representative knows best the issues facing their district and the concerns and priorities of their constituents.
While we all work on what matters to each of us, I urge my colleagues in the upcoming session to stop the finger pointing and work together to be serious conservatives for Wyoming.
Super Bowl winning coach Herm Edwards once said, “A goal without a plan is a wish”. We’ve got serious goals with a serious plan to achieve them. Let’s get to work.
Rep. Cyrus Western (R-District 51) serves as House Majority Whip in the Wyoming House of Representatives