Chuck Gray Blasts Gordon For Vetoes On Property Tax Relief, Abortion, Gun Rights

In a fiery letter to Gov. Gordon, Secretary of State Chuck Gray on Thursday said the governor's vetoes on property tax relief, abortion, and the elimination of gun free zones are sending Wyoming "in the wrong direction."

Leo Wolfson

March 28, 20247 min read

Secretary of State Chuck Gray, left, shakes hands with Gov. Mark Gordon at the beginning of the 2024 Wyoming legislative session at the Capitol in Cheyenne.
Secretary of State Chuck Gray, left, shakes hands with Gov. Mark Gordon at the beginning of the 2024 Wyoming legislative session at the Capitol in Cheyenne. (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

Secretary of State Chuck Gray hasn’t been shy voicing his opinion during the first year-plus in office, whether or not that opinion was asked for.

And while Gov. Mark Gordon didn’t ask for it, Gray is letting the governor know what he thinks about some of the high-profile vetoes he recently made.

State law requires the Wyoming governor to send a notification to the secretary of state for every bill he doesn’t sign into law after the Legislature has adjourned.

In a Thursday letter to Gordon acknowledging receipt of his vetoes, Gray went further and provided six pages of detailed responses to 11 vetoes the governor made.

“Wyoming can and should lead the way in providing meaningful property tax relief, protecting the unborn, defending our Second Amendment rights from tyranny at all levels, ensuring a way to fight back against attacks on our core industries and guaranteeing that our only land grant university represents the values of Wyomingites, not leftist elites,” Gray wrote. “Unfortunately, your vetoes do not do that, and in that way set us in the wrong direction.”

Gordon’s office declined to comment on Gray’s letter.

Gordon vetoed eight bills and sections of five other bills. The eight vetoes marked the most made by a governor in more than 20 years.

Property Taxes

The first bill Gray takes exception with is Senate File 54, which would have exempted 25% of the fair market value of home values up to $2 million. Gordon vetoed the bill, calling it “socialistic” and “Bidenomic” because it didn’t benefit the energy industry and its funding sources.

Gray responded, calling Gordon’s veto itself “Bidenomics.”

“To call a bill that would provide a 25% tax exemption on assessments ‘Bidenomics’ is absurd,” Gray writes. “Biden has overseen the largest tax increase in American history through inflation and a number of passed tax increase measures.”

Gray said this bill would have provided a solution for broad-based tax relief and had been studied over a two-year period.

“The vetoed bill SF 54 was the heart of providing across-the-board relief for the double-digit property tax increases seen for years,” Gray wrote.

Gordon did sign four other property tax relief bills, including legislation offering a 50% exemption for longtime homeowners in the state and a 4% cap on year-to-year tax increases.

Although Gray acknowledges these, he said they are too limited and do not provide complete relief.

Gun-Free Zones

Gordon also vetoed House Bill 125, which would have banned gun-free zones in Wyoming.

In his veto letter, Gordon said he thought the measure would have eroded local control over firearms regulations.

Certain Second Amendment groups like Gun Owners of America have blasted Gordon for this action.

In his Thursday letter, Gray does as well, describing the legislation as a pro-Second Amendment bill.

Gray sees gun-free zones as “soft targets” that he believes increase the likelihood of mass shootings. He also argues against the bill subverting local control, claiming the gun-free zones infringed on local control in the first place.

“The veto of this pro-Second Amendment bill will prevent Wyomingites from being able to defend themselves in many different situations,” Gray wrote.

As a member of the State Building Commission, Gray said he plans to bring a motion to allow the public to concealed carry in the Capitol and state buildings.

In his veto letter, Gordon offered to take a similar, but more measured approach, saying he will direct the State Building Commission to begin a process to reconsider rules to allow concealed carry permit holders to exercise their rights within the Capitol and other appropriate state facilities.

Gordon also signed four bills he touted as being pro-Second Amendment.


Gordon also vetoed a bill that would have regulated Wyoming’s abortion clinics under the Wyoming Department of Health and required pregnant women to get ultrasounds before they get an abortion.

The governor said he vetoed HB 148 because it had amendments he viewed as making the bill vulnerable to legal challenges.

Gray, who refers to abortion clinics as “abortion mills” in his letter, says this legislation would have put in place “common-sense regulations” on abortion clinics while the constitutionality of Wyoming’s abortion bans continues to be considered and paused in court.

Gordon and others have estimated that more than 500 abortions were performed in 2022, which he cited as a downfall to the delay in action on previous constitutionally questionable pro-life legislation that was drafted. He surmised that HB 148 would have been challenged in court, which Gray agreed with, and ultimately paused, which Gray disagreed with.

“There are many reasons why Wyoming courts would not have gone in that direction,” Gray wrote. “Rather, this bill would have likely provided needed regulation of abortion mills while the Wyoming Supreme Court is making a decision regarding previously passed bills and would have saved thousands of lives in the process.”


Gray criticized a veto Gordon made on a piece of the budget that prohibited the University of Wyoming from using any state money for the school’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Office and related programming. Although Gordon slashed the dedicated funding appropriation, he allowed the school to continue using state money for related DEI programming.

“You make the deeply troubling argument in your line-item veto letter that this footnote would jeopardize federal funds to the university,” Gray writes. “Wyoming can’t allow the threat of the loss of federal dollars to compromise our values. I’m deeply disappointed by your veto action and explanation.”

Gordon also narrowed a bill that will give public money to parents who want their children to receive private schooling in Wyoming, cutting out all income earners except those who make 150% or less of the federal poverty line.

Gray said this cut denies educational savings accounts to “huge swaths of Wyoming citizens.”

“I’m confident the removed provisions would have survived constitutional muster and am disappointed that the full potential of this bill wasn’t able to be realized due to your line-item veto,” Gray wrote.

Gordon also vetoed a law letting state-authorized charter schools apply for their own grants. In his veto letter, Gordon called the bill an attempt to cinch Wyoming’s fledgling school choice movement together with bailing wire.

Gray said the bill would have increased the independence and autonomy of Wyoming’s charter schools. He also said it would have removed uncertainty for some schools regarding timing of the receipt of funds from their school districts, a key challenge he said a recently-opened charter school in Chugwater faced.

Gray also criticized Gordon’s vetoes on bills that would have provided $75 million for the state of Wyoming to fight federal overreach into the state, a “trigger bill” on a proposed federal law exempting from federal inspection requirements animals and meats that are slaughtered and prepared at custom animal slaughter facilities for distribution within the state, and a bill that would have allowed certain mining operations to have less state regulation.

A budget cut for a Wheatland water tower also drew Gray's ire because Gordon said he was doing it because its primary supporter voted against the budget.

"Your explanation is retaliatory and puts lives in danger, while also discouraging needed discourse on the budget in the future," Gray writes.

Gray And Gordon

Gordon and Gray have maintained a somewhat tumultuous relationship since Gray took office in 2023. The governor has vetoed multiple efforts proposed by Gray, and in turn Gray has sharply criticized Gordon on a number of issues.

The two have also engaged in some heated back-and-forth exchanges during State Loan and Investment Board meetings.

There were no such public spats between Gordon and former Secretary of State Ed Buchanan, who Gordon appointed to a judgeship in 2022.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter