Analysis: Casper Republican Has Most Success Passing Bills In 2024 Session

A Cowboy State Daily analysis shows that Casper Republican Sen. Jim Anderson was the most successful in the Legislature in getting individual bills passed during the 2024 legislative session.

Leo Wolfson

April 11, 20246 min read

State Sen. Jim Anderson, R-Casper
State Sen. Jim Anderson, R-Casper (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

Casper Republican State Sen. Jim Anderson was the grand champion of the 2024 legislative session if one were to judge the frequency of bills passing into law as a marker of success.

A Cowboy State Daily analysis of bills sponsored by Wyoming’s 93 state legislators finds that Anderson was the most successful in getting his co-sponsored bills passed into law during the 2024 session, with seven of the nine bills he signed his name to earning Gov. Mark Gordon’s approval, a 77% success rate.

As governor, Gordon has the power to veto bills passed by the Legislature, an action he made at an unprecedented rate during the recently completed legislative session. Gordon’s vetoes hurt the passage rate of all lawmakers who signed their names to legislation that he nixed.

Some of the bills Anderson co-sponsored provide property tax relief, designate an official state holiday to promote literacy, clarify oil and gas laws on state lands, and increase the Medicaid reimbursement rate for hospice care.

What Does It Mean?

The rate of success a legislator has in getting bills passed into law is by no means the sole indicator of his or her worth as a lawmaker, and if anything is likely nothing more than talking point. But it does show a larger strategy as far as the types of legislation that is easiest to pass into law, and what kind of priorities lawmakers make as far as the types of bills they choose to attach their support to.

In politics, less-controversial, apolitical bills generally have a higher chance of success.

Sen. Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, had the highest rate of success for sponsored bills passing into law during the 2024 session, going 3-for-3.

“It’s been my approach throughout my time in the Legislature to pick bills brought to me from my community, fix a problem, or both,” he said.

Barlow said he focuses during budget sessions on only signing his name to simpler, less-controversial bills, so that he can spend most of his energy on the budget bill.

He’s sponsored plenty of controversial bills of his own in the past such as an ad valorem tax liens on minerals, but reserves bills like these for the general session when there is more time to spend on them.

“I go to what I think is most doable,” Barlow said. “There’s nothing magical about it.

The bills he co-sponsored during the recent session clarify a loophole in his 2023-passed legislation restoring gun rights to non-violent felons, provide a process for certain malt beverage manufacturers to terminate franchise agreements with distributors without cause, and change and define the state’s definitions of solid waste, solid waste management facility, recycling and advanced recycling facilities.

Just as in the case of the malt beverage bill, Barlow said he’s often inspired to sponsor bills brought to him by constituents who need help with a problem.

Barlow said he also makes a point to only co-sponsor bills that he would feel comfortable championing himself if the lead sponsor of the bill happened to drop out.

This was the case with a blockbuster property tax bill brought by Rep. Steve Harshman, R-Casper, that would have eliminated most property taxes in Wyoming while increasing the sales tax rate.

“We needed to have a big conversation about our tax structure. I felt that bill compelled that,” he said.

State Rep. Trey Sherwood, D-Laramie, center.
State Rep. Trey Sherwood, D-Laramie, center. (Matt Idler for Cowboy State Daily)

Democrat Most Success In House

Rep. Trey Sherwood, D-Laramie, had the highest rate of success in the House for co-sponsored bills passing into law, with three of her six receiving Gordon’s approval. As one of only five Democrats in the House, her success is particularly notable.

“I support straightforward, common-sense legislation,” she said.

The bills Sherwood co-sponsored were similarly benign, changing the distribution of fees collected for electrical inspections and clarifying requirements for electrical inspectors, creating an adult hearing aid program in Wyoming, and requiring local governments to honor reciprocity when recognizing licenses issued to contractors.

Of highest consideration for Sherwood is whether a bill seems honest, transparent and will positively impact Wyoming families.

Sherwood said she takes a simple approach to deciding whether or not she will support legislation and isn’t dissuaded if she doesn’t believe a bill has a strong chance of passing or if it’s brought by a member of a different party.

“I think about policy and how it will impact my constituents,” she said. “If I feel strongly about a bill, I will put my name to it even if I think it’s a long shot.”

Freedom Caucus Approach

Members of the Wyoming Freedom Caucus were generally less successful than other legislators in getting bills passed into law by percentage.

The biggest reason for this was that, on average, the Freedom Caucus members signed their names to many more bills than other legislators. Reps. John Bear, R-Gillette, and Scott Heiner, R-Green River, topped the list, attaching their names to 55 and 47 bills respectively.

Rep. Ken Pendergraft, R-Sheridan, who is aligned with the Freedom Caucus, had the highest success rate, with 20.5% of his co-sponsored bills passing into law.

Rep. Scott Smith, R-Lingle, was the least successful, going 0-for-23 on bills he co-sponsored and 0-for-2 on his own bills.

Some farther right lawmakers have expressed pride in sponsoring bills that face an uphill battle. The crafting of any bill costs money and time for Legislative Service Office staff.

Barlow said legislators have varying motivations for sponsoring and co-sponsoring bills that can range from wanting to help their constituents to making a political statement to simply starting a conversation on a topic. He tries to gain a broad range of political support when collecting co-sponsors on his bills, rather than just securing support from people who he already knows will vote for his bills.

“I think it will have more chance of success if you can show broad support,” he said.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at

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Leo Wolfson

Politics and Government Reporter