Dave Simpson: Exposed When The Tide Went Out

Columnist Dave Simpson writes, "If your lawmakers voted to kill gun-free zones, then voted against a veto session, bring it up next time they come asking for your vote."

Dave Simpson

April 15, 20244 min read

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(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

“Only when the tide goes out,” billionaire investor Warren Buffet famously said, “do you discover who's been swimming naked.”

I thought of that quote recently, as the up-again, down-again saga of the gun-free zone bill played out in the recently-concluded legislative session.

You'll recall that the bill – supported by Second Amendment folks and those who don't believe signs prevent murders – surprisingly made it through the House of Representatives by a convincing margin.

My theory was that this was an easy vote for some House members, because it kept the Second Amendment folks off their backs in an election year, and they figured it was dead meat in the Senate anyway. Let them do the dirty work.

And at first, that's what happened. It died narrowly in a Senate committee. But then the Senate as a whole brought it back to life, voting it out of committee and onto the floor by a simple majority vote, even though the Senate president wanted a tougher two-thirds vote. So then the Senate passed the bill by a pretty good margin, as in the House.

Then, however, the people who voted for it but didn't really like it figured the governor would veto it. And that's what he did. But then there was talk of a special session to override several of the governor's vetoes, including the gun-free zone bill. (They could have also overridden that property tax bill the governor vetoed.)

So the lawmakers then voted against a veto session, and that's when, in the words of Warren Buffett, the tide went out, and some people who had voted to kill gun-free zones, voted against a special veto session.

Some were exposed, like people swimming naked when the tide went out.

The case has been made that it was a flawed bill, but that only makes the solid support in the House and Senate more curious. Like Big Daddy says in “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” there was a distinct whiff of “mendacity” in the air.

Bottom line: If your lawmakers voted to kill gun-free zones, but voted against the veto session, it could be that they never liked the bill in the first place, and were only placating Second Amendment folks like us, confident that it would be killed in the end.

And it was killed. Mission accomplished.

If your lawmakers played that game, bring it up next time they come asking for your vote. 

Also Chapping Our Cheeks...

If that wasn't enough to chap your cheeks, there was that amazing exchange between our lawmakers, who tried to rein in the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion folks at the University of Wyoming, and UW leadership.

(I figure true equity won't be achieved until I have a house as big as Bill Gates' house, so the whole concept is impossible. Opportunities should be equal, not government-mandated outcomes.)

The president of the university said, amazingly, that if the Legislature succeeded in cutting funding for DEI, well, they have other funds available, and they'd probably just fund DEI from those sources. So there!

At that point, you had to wonder if the UW tail wasn't wagging the Wyoming Legislature dog. It was galling, especially for those of us who doubt this whole DEI exercise.

So the University could lose millions if we dared to defy our Washington masters. And cutting DEI funds, even though a majority of our lawmakers wanted to, was out of the question. Case closed.

They said they would review their DEI programs, but in the end, what the legislature wanted apparently wasn't much of a concern.

What mattered was the money, not the Legislature's wishes. As the saying goes, we weren't arguing over right and wrong at that point, just debating the price. And you had to feel downright envy for the folks at Hillsdale College, where they don't take one cent from the government.

Then, the governor – once again the hallowed adult in the room – stepped in and line-item vetoed the DEI limiting provisions anyway.

So UW didn't even have to go to the trouble of defying our lawmakers, thanks to the governor.

I don't know about you, but sometimes I get the feeling these adults in the room are thumbing their noses at us.

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.