Senate Will Close Loophole That Allowed Driskill To Remove Committee Chair

The Wyoming Senate will close a loophole before the next legislative session that allowed Senate President Ogden Driskill to remove Dave Kinskey as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee last summer.

Leo Wolfson

March 08, 20244 min read

Sen. Dave Kinskey, left, and Senate President Ogden Driskill
Sen. Dave Kinskey, left, and Senate President Ogden Driskill (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

In many ways, the divide that has grown within the Wyoming Senate this legislative session sprung from a seed planted last spring.

That seed was Senate President Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, removing Sen. Dave Kinskey from his position as chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee. It sprouted on the first day of the session when the Senate’s first order of business was to overturn Driskill’s decision and reinstall Kinskey as the committee’s chairman.

“We’ve been left with a lot of questions that led to confusion and discord throughout the session,” Sen. Dan Dockstader, R-Star Valley, told the Senate Rules Committee on Friday.

The Rules Committee passed a resolution by a 4-1 vote Friday to address and clarify the Senate rules on changes in committee membership before the next legislative session. Sen. Mike Gierau, D-Jackson, was the only member to vote against.

Because of the ambiguity in this rule, Driskill was able to remove Kinskey, R-Sheridan, without convening the Senate. The rule states that no change shall be made in any committee except by vote of a majority of the members of the Senate. As currently written, however, nothing precludes the Senate President from changing the duties of a committee, so he didn’t remove Kinskey from the committee as a whole, just his position as chair.

But Driskill’s move has hung over the Senate 10 months after it was made.

On the first day of the legislative session, the Senate voted 17-14 to overturn Driskill’s action, reappointing Kinskey as chair of the committee. Driskill said that was essentially a vote of “no confidence” in his leadership.

“We need to provide clarity and get rid of the ambiguity,” said Sen. Larry Hicks, R-Baggs. “The Senate needs to have a clear understanding of the rules.”

Now Or Later?

There was little reference made to this series of events during Friday’s meeting and Kinskey, a member of the Rules Committee, made almost no comments.

The biggest point of contention was when the Senate should address the rule.

Dockstader argued it needs to happen immediately.

Driskill disagreed. Although he said the rule needs clarifying, he also feels very uncomfortable addressing it until his term as Senate President expires at the end of the year.

“I feel very uncomfortable changing that in the middle of my term,” he said.

Sen. Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, mentioned how when he was House speaker, he had to remove one of his committee members on very short notice for exhibiting inappropriate behavior.

“There are times when a presiding officer may encounter where a change was required,” Barlow said. “If the member is not stepping down voluntarily, a presiding officer does have a duty to that.”

The rest of the Rules Committee took Driskill’s recommendation to address the issue at the start of the 2025 legislative session. A two-thirds vote is needed to approve any rules change in the Senate.

The House has much more lenient rules for the removal of members, giving the House Speaker full discretion to do so.

Too Many Members

The Rules Committee also discussed an issue with the Senate Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee, which has too many members.

In the Legislature, each committee is supposed to have five members, but the Senate Ag Committee has six.

This happened when Driskill appointed Sen. Dan Laursen, R-Powell, following the 2023 legislative session. Laursen hadn’t been appointed to any standing committees entering that session as punishment for comments he made on the 2022 campaign trail, but Driskill put him on Ag after the session for exhibiting “unbelievably” good behavior.

But when he did that, Driskill he didn’t reciprocate and remove anyone from the committee, and it does not appear the rules would have allowed him to do so anyway.

Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, expressed concern that failing to take any action on the committee's membership could set a precedent for the Legislature that it’s acceptable to have more or fewer members on committees than allowed.

The Rules Committee agreed to make a statement that this committee is in violation, but will not take any action to change its membership. A new committee will be selected at the start of next year's session.

“I don’t see any harm in leaving it as six through the interim (session),” Driskill said. “I see no sense upsetting that committee.”

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter