Dave Simpson: Gov. Gordon Protects Us From Ourselves

Columnist Dave Simpson writes, "Don't you get the feeling that the governor is rapping our knuckles for things most of us support wholeheartedly? That the guy who spoke at Harvard apparently thinks he deserves a more appreciative constituency?"

Dave Simpson

March 23, 20244 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

At a certain point, you begin to think it doesn't matter what the people of Wyoming think.

And you have to remind yourself that Wyoming is a distinctly conservative place, as evidenced by the fact that 69 percent of voters here supported Donald Trump in the 2020 election – highest in the nation.

That's us. Isn't it?

Well, maybe not.

Because when you examine the actions of our state government, it begins to look like that innate conservatism is not paramount in the minds of our governor, some in our courts, and our university.

The flurry of vetoes, bills stuck in drawers, and outright defiance of the clear will of the Legislature are stark testimony that what you think about important issues is often tolerated by our elected officials, not embraced. And sometimes defied.

It's as if, in many instances, they're protecting us from ourselves.

Late Friday Gov. Mark Gordon vetoed House Bill 125, which would have banned gun-free zones, apparently going back on a campaign promise made in 2018 when he first ran for governor. Aaron Dorr, of the Wyoming Gun Owners organization said bluntly, “Gordon is a liar.”

Despite passing by a large margin in the House, resurrected after dying in a Senate committee, then passing the Senate by a large margin, Gordon vetoed the bill, writing that it “erodes historical local control norms by giving sole authority to the Legislature to micromanage a constitutionally protected right.”

If you believe that signs protect us from dangerous perpetrators, and you don't wish to exercise your right to protect yourself with a firearm, you might agree with the governor. But Mark Jones of Buffalo, spokesman for the Gun Owners of America, estimates that 80 percent of Wyoming residents supported House Bill 125.

Dorr called citing local control “cheap political theater.”

Likewise, a legislative measure to cut funding for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programming and office at the University of Wyoming was met by defiance, as UW President Ed Seidel said funding could be found elsewhere, despite the will of lawmakers. (Sen. Charlie Scott of Natrona County called DEI “a monolith of wokeness.”)

Nevertheless, the governor vetoed the Legislature's wishes on DEI programming, but allowed defunding the DEI office to stand, saying vetoing both would “put millions of dollars of federal grants that regularly flow to the University at risk.”

Rep. Sheri Steinmetz, who sponsored the amendments, said the governor “is willing to do anything for a buck.

Ask your friends and neighbors how they feel about DEI, a craze that has many in the business world rethinking their initial enthusiasm.

Can't we just educate the kids at UW, and ignore these virtue signaling campaigns from the liberal fever swamps of higher education? Whatever happened to the much-touted cry of “Wyoming solutions to Wyoming problems?”

The governor did sign Senate File 99, banning “surgeries, cross-sex hormones, and puberty blockers” for minors, but only grudgingly, dubbing it “intrusive” and “straying into the personal affairs of families.”

You'll recall that the governor also looked down his nose last year at the bill banning boys from playing girls' sports, calling it “Draconian,” but allowing it to become law.

The governor did not sign House Bill 92, allowing it to become law without his signature. It requires schools to communicate with parents regarding issues involving their children, protecting parental rights.

Also receiving the disdainful no signature treatment was Senate File 99, banning schools from teaching sexual orientation or gender identify without prior permission, including trans-gender issues. It also becomes law without the governor's signature.

Don't you get the feeling that the governor is rapping our knuckles for things most of us support wholeheartedly?

And that the guy who spoke at Harvard about “carbon negative” goals, despite our state's role as an energy industry leader, probably believes deep down that he deserves a more with-it, appreciative constituency?

But he's stuck with us.

The bottom line, clearly, is to be more skeptical at election time, not putting much faith in what a candidate says about banning gun-free zones, or other campaign season promises.

Look around our state and you'll see that the problem isn't with the conservative beliefs most of us fervently hold, but with those who seem determined to protect us from ourselves.

We don't need our knuckles rapped.

Dave Simpson can be reached at: DaveSimpson145@hotmail.com

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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.