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Gun Control & Red Flag Laws: Wyoming’s Tyler Lindholm Says No

in News
1793

Cowboy State Daily sat down with Wyoming Majority Whip Tyler Lindholm to discuss national gun control measures following the mass shootings in El Paso and Dayton.

We asked Tyler if he was in favor of making AR-15s illegal, if he was OK with proposed Red Flag laws (recently endorsed by President Trump), if he supports Universal Background Checks, if stricter gun laws would decrease violence, and if our Constitution and gun laws should evolve with changing times.

Kraken: World’s First Digital Bank To Open in Wyoming

in Business/News
6360

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Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The world’s first bank dedicated to handling digital assets will open in Wyoming with state approval of an application to open a “Special Purpose Depository Institution.”

Kraken, a company that specializes in the purchase, sale and trade of digital currencies such as Bitcoin, won unanimous approval from the Wyoming State Banking Board on Wednesday to open a bank for the holding and trading of digital currencies.

The SPDI, to tentatively be called Kraken Financial, is the first of its kind to win bank charter recognition from both state and federal regulators, the company said in a news release.

The bank will be headquartered in Cheyenne and will provide comprehensive services for holders of digital assets, the company said, such as accepting deposits and allowing its customers to use their digital assets to pay bills, trade for other currencies or make investments.

Kraken described the bank as a bridge between “cryptocurrencies” and traditional economic systems.

In announcing the Banking Board’s approval, David Kinitsky, Kraken Financial’s CEO, praised Wyoming’s Legislature for making the changes to state banking laws needed to allow the handling of digital assets.

“We’re thrilled to work in a state so aligned with our philosophy and values,” he said. “Wyoming is a rare and shining example of how thoughtful regulation can drive innovation for (financial technology) companies.”

The company also said that Wyoming is the only place where such a bank could open and be successful.

“Though many regulators talk about fostering innovation, Wyoming is the only state to actually build out this vision in a concrete, commercially viable way,” its news release said.

The news was welcomed by legislators who worked to adjust Wyoming’s banking laws to allow such operations.

“Big news Wyoming!” Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, one of the legislators to work on the law, wrote on his Facebook page. “We just made history this morning. While I know this may seem a little geeky, it is huge news that Wyoming can and has expanded its economy and can now officially be considered a tech State.”

“And we’re off…. Wyoming people asked for economic diversity and THEY HAVE IT,” another advocate of the banking bill, Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, wrote on his Facebook page. “The first of many tech jobs and dollars for the state.”

Caitlin Long, a Wyoming native recognized as an expert in cryptocurrency and “blockchain banking,” also expressed excitement over the approval in a post on her Facebook page.

“As a (Kraken) shareholder, I’m thrilled, but even more thrilled for Wyoming,” she wrote. “True economic diversification and a big building block for attracting a new tech and financial services industry here.”

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Wyoming Gun Owners (WYGO) Slams Losing Candidates After Election

in News/politics
5921

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A conservative pro-gun organization is trumpeting its victories in its efforts to defeat legislative candidates in last week’s primary election that it saw as too moderate.

Wyoming Gun Owners (WYGO) has posted items on its Facebook page throwing barbs at defeated legislative candidates including state Sen. Michael Von Flatern, R-Gillette, and Erin Johnson, a Republican who sought to unseat state Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne.

“Senator Michael Von Flatern — you’re gonna have a lot more time to work on your cooking skills after that 64% – 36% shiner you took to the face (Tuesday) night,” read one posting, accompanied by a picture of Von Flatern baking. “Your mistake was in thinking that WYGO was like every other lobby group, that we would eventually want to play nice. We don’t want to play nice, we want to save our freedoms. You got in the way…..gun owners removed you.”

Von Flatern said he did not understand why WYGO was continuing to comment on candidates who were no longer in the race.

“I don’t have any idea why they’re doing it other than they want to prove a point,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “I would assume I’m done and they know that I’m done. They’re still attacking me because they’re vindictive. They won. They should just take it and go.”

Also targeted by WYGO was Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, who is in the middle of his four-year term.

WYGO mentioned Driskill’s support for Von Flatern and Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, who lost in his re-election bid.

“Folks rumor has it ole Oggy was alternating between sobbing and panic attacks all day today,” another posting said. “You see, the Lindholm House seat is half of Oggy’s Senate seat. And Lindholm lost after calling for a tax increase….the same one Oggy called for.”

Driskill said he found attacks against candidates after they lose the election to be in poor taste.

“To trash somebody after they’ve lost and they’ve graciously congratulated the winner, to kick dirt on them and to gloat over it is un-Christian and it’s unbelievably crass and it’s really a bad way to do politics,” he said.

Driskill, who has been a staunch defender of Second Amendment issues while a member of the Legislature, said he found it interesting he would be labeled as “anti-gun” by WYGO.

He added WYGO used his association with other lawmakers to cast doubt on their stances.

“I think it’s pretty sad that I endorse somebody and they call them a liberal and (the candidate has) never had a chance to cast a vote (on legislation),” he said. “They decide they want to call them a liberal for whatever reason. I call it character assassination.”

Lindholm said he has not seen such comments being made after an election.

“I’ve never seen a pile-on after a defeat,” he said. “Usually the person who is defeated concedes and the person who won comes out and says ‘Good race, let’s move on to the next one.’”

Lindholm added that because WYGO is a lobbying organization, it may have to work with some of the people it has criticized.

“The reality is you’re going to have to work with these people again,” he said. “With this organization coming out and still swinging their baseball bat shows kind of a lack of understanding on the part of that leadership.”

Driskill and Lindholm agreed such tactics are more common in other areas.

“They’re creating the same exact culture that Washington, D.C., has,” Driskill said. “You take somebody down and strip their dignity. When you do this character assassination, you divide everybody into camps and you make everything partisan.”

Johnson, who challenged Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, in his bid for re-election, was also criticized by WYGO after the primary.

“Erin…..if you have to assure people you’re not part of the swamp, you’re in trouble. Which is, umm, why you lost,” said a post written in response to a posting from Johnson that discussed the campaign. “WYGO has dealt with scum like you for over a decade…and we’ll be exposing scum like you for the next decade. Nice try….but gun owners can smell a fraud from 100 miles away. #LOSER.”

Britney Wallesch, a Democrat who will face Bouchard in the general election, also questioned the tactic in her own Facebook post.

“It’s not enough that she lost because of blatant lies, which the governor himself refuted, but they had to gloat over it, too,” she wrote. “We can know a man by who his friends are.”

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Wyoming Election Recap: Tuesday Was Big Day For Conservatives; GOP Shifts To The Right

in Bill Sniffin/Column/politics
5856

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

After the primary election Tuesday, it sure looks like the conservatives won the soul of Wyoming’s Republican Party.

During the primary campaign, it was obvious the Cowboy State seemed to be moving toward a three-party system, with Democrats, far-right conservative Republicans, and Republicans, who are labeled moderate or RINO (Republican in Name Only) by their opponents.

If you are keeping score, it sure appeared to be a wonderful night for the conservative Republicans.  The primary election battlefield was littered with the carcasses of stalwart candidates who had been labeled moderate.

In Wyoming, what the heck does moderate mean?  After Tuesday, it appears that if you show that you might consider raising any kind of tax, then you are a moderate.  Based on these results, it also appears that if you do not sign a pledge for Wyoming gun owners, you could face stiff opposition.

And based on these results, it would appear that the next session of the Legislature could be a truly cantankerous battle between pragmatic moderates who might consider anything to balance the budget versus staunch conservatives who prefer cutting government programs as their way to balance the state budget.  And based on Tuesday’s results, it would appear many of Wyoming’s voters support that position.

Let’s look at some of the results:

Wyoming’s State Senate became more conservative as a result of contested elections in Tuesday’s Wyoming primary election.

State senate races in Cheyenne, Gillette, Riverton, and Cody generated much of the excitement,      

In Campbell County, Incumbent Sen. Michael Von Flatern lost big to Troy McKeown, 1,507 to 626.  Von Flatern had literally been in the sights of the Wyoming Gun Owners, who campaigned vigorously against him. Von Flatern was viewed as a moderate.  A last-minute endorsement by retiring U. S. Sen. Mike Enzi could not save him.

In Laramie County, Sen. Anthony Bouchard held on to his seat, despite heavy opposition from Erin Johnson.  Bouchard’s margin of victory of 2,064 to 1,903 was typically close, as have been almost all of Bouchard’s races.   This result was a surprise to many observers as moderate Wyoming politicians like Sen. Ogden Driskill (R-Devils Tower) openly campaigned against Bouchard.

In Fremont County, State Rep. Tim Salazar moved up to win retiring State Sen. Eli Bebout’s seat with a 2,882 to 1,738 win over businessman Mike Bailey.  Bebout had been in the legislature for decades and was a former Speaker of the House and President of the Senate.

In Park County, Hank Coe was retiring after 31 years in the legislature.  County Commissioner Tim French defeated Rep. David Northrup, 2,174 to 1,442. Stefanie Bell got 1,205 votes. A lot of outside money went into this race.  French was considered by many to be the most conservative of the candidates.

In the House, the biggest upset occurred in District One in Crook and Weston Counties where Chip Neiman defeated Majority Whip Tyler Lindholm, 1,812 to 1,593. Neiman was considered the conservative in this race.  

In Park County, a mud-slinging campaign saw incumbent Sandy Newsome defeat Nina Webber, 1,237 to 868.  It was a hard-fought battle. Webber was considered the conservative with Newsome seen as a moderate.

In somewhat of an upset, Cheyenne Mayor Marian Orr finished third in the primary and will not compete in the general election for a second term. Patrick Collins 8,451 and Rick Coppinger, 2,959, finished first and second.

In another upset of a kind, a one-half cent sales tax to support economic development won in Fremont County by a vote of 5,132 to 5,001. With the state economy in the toilet, observers thought this tax would never pass.  The funds would be used for job development, airport funding, and local shuttle buses.

The two biggest guns running were former U. S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis easily winning the primary for U, S. Senate to replace retiring Mike Enzi and Incumbent U. S. Rep. Liz Cheney, who easily won her primary election.

When the smoke cleared, it clearly was a good night for the most conservative of Wyoming’s Republicans.  Earlier this year they dominated the GOP state convention and pretty much controlled the state platform, too.

As for the moderates, it might be back to the drawing board for them. They took a pretty good licking Tuesday, Aug. 18.

Editor’s note: Anthony Bouchard’s votes were updated to include the numbers for Goshen County at 11:15 a.m. on Aug. 19.

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Wyoming’s “Food Freedom Act” Featured on CBS Saturday Morning

in Agriculture/News
5768

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Wyoming’s first-in-the-nation Food Freedom Act was featured on CBS News on Saturday morning.

The legislation, championed by the late Rep. Sue Wallis and current State Rep. Tyler Lindholm, was passed in 2015 and made Wyoming the first state in the country to adopt legislation that deregulated many direct-to-consumer food sales.

In plain English, it means local food producers can take their products directly to market.

This was something CBS apparently found of particular interest in light of the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Farmers markets have proved to be invaluable during the pandemic by offering fresh food often in open air environments. And in one state it’s becoming even easier to sell homemade locally sourced food, thanks to a law passed five years ago,” said CBS anchor Michelle Miller.

The segment featured many Campbell County residents selling their food products at a local farmer’s co-op including Jordan Madison who makes and sells his own peanut butter.

“Madison doesn’t need his jars inspected or weighed and they’re not subject to any government oversight. He just delivered it to this co-op, where customers buy it directly,” explained the CBS reporter.

Lindholm, contacted by phone on Saturday afternoon, said Wyoming’s “common-sense approach of producer to consumer sales is the envy of most states due to the COVID-19 crisis.”

“Wyoming continues to lead the nation and other states are starting to take notice,” Lindholm said. “We didn’t enact this legislation for emergencies though, we were just tired of arbitrary rules.”

“By removing government from the equation, we have opened the door for communities to thrive,” he said.

The video received attention from legislators on both sides of the aisle. 

State Sen. Tara Nethercott, a Republican from Cheyenne, posted the video on her Facebook page saying it was “exciting to see Wyoming featured on CBS.”

“The Wyoming legislature has continued to de-regulate and allow entrepreneurship to thrive. Representative Tyler Lindholm has been instrumental seeing this through! Proud to support these efforts,” she said.

State Rep. Stan Blake, a Democrat from Green River, posted the video as well.

“So proud to have been a cosponsor of the Wyoming Food Freedom Act. Started by Representative Sue Wallis continued by Representative Tyler Lindholm. This is great for Wyoming’s citizens. Buy Local,” he wrote.

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Wyoming Legislators Host Lunch For Disabled Vets at Devils Tower

in News/Sturgis
5632

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Crook County legislators Ogden Driskill and Tyler Lindholm on Friday hosted lunch for a group of 20-plus disabled veterans who were on their way to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

The bikers were riding from Utah to Sturgis and were affiliated with the Veterans Charity Ride (VCR) group — a nonprofit organization that provides programs specifically designed to assist wounded and amputee combat veterans.

“As a veteran myself, I’m a big supporter of fellow veterans,” Lindholm said. “It is always good to lend a helping hand to some fellow and brothers in arms.”

Lindholm, R-Sundance, said the group had lunch at the KOA Campground and then toured the Devils Tower monument.

“They were in great spirits. It was a great honor for me to spend time with them,” he said.

Driskill, R-Devils Tower, who owns the KOA Campground, said he and Lindholm volunteered to sponsor the lunch when he heard the veterans were going to be riding through.

“We love vets and combat-wounded vets are in a special category of their own,” Driskill said.  “Our country is here because of them.”

The senator said the lunchtime discussion was focused on their bikes, the travels they made so far, and the upcoming celebration at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

“It sure makes you feel good to do something for these people,” he said. “They were excited to be here in Wyoming and they looked forward get to being in Sturgis for a full week.”

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Enzi, Barrasso Call For Reform In Meat Processing Industry

in Agriculture/Business/Food/News
5017

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso, both R-Wyoming, called on the U.S. Department of Agriculture on Tuesday to look into reforming the meat processing industry.

The two joined a bipartisan group of legislators in sending a letter to USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue asking him to consider areas for regulatory and programmatic reform in the industry.

“When high-capacity processing facilities experienced (coronavirus) outbreaks amongst employees, operations were forced to shut-off or slow down production, leaving the rancher with livestock they could not move and the consumer with either empty grocery shelves or overpriced products,” the senators wrote. “These pitfalls can be avoided in the future if we take action today to promote a diversified food supply chain. Regulations must be streamlined to remove barriers impeding small and medium-sized meat processors.”

The legislators included Democratic Sen. Doug Jones of Alabama, Republican Sen. Steve Daines of Montana and Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon.

In April, Wyoming legislators Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, and Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, called for an investigation into meat processors, accusing them of taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic to make record profits.

They both criticized the four major meat packing companies, Tyson, Smithfield, JBS and Cargill for creating a monopoly that hurts ranches and small cattle producers.

Driskill recommended the public call for an investigation into these companies and enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act, which regulates interstate and foreign commerce in livestock, dairy, poultry and related products.

Lindholm blamed the companies’ misuse of the Federal Meat Inspection Act as one of the problems behind rising beef prices for consumers, but not ranchers. 

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Legislators: Wyoming Tops in the Nation For Re-Opening Business

in Coronavirus/News
4292

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In contrast to a group of Republican legislators who criticized Gov. Mark Gordon’s reactions to the coronavirus pandemic, two lawmakers from northeastern Wyoming said Wyoming is further ahead in opening businesses than any other state in the nation.

Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower and Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance took to YouTube on Thursday to discuss the governor’s most-recent health orders and why they put Wyoming ahead of the pack nationally.

“As it stands tomorrow, the State of Wyoming will be farther ahead than any state in the nation in regards to relaxing [public health] orders,” Lindholm said. “Farther than any state and that includes South Dakota. South Dakota is going to be behind us.”

South Dakota has been singled out by the national media as the state that has most strenuously resisted statewide “stay-at-home” or “shelter-in-place” orders. However, there is little — if any — difference between the policies of South Dakota and those of Wyoming.

Wyoming officials closed only schools, businesses likely to draw more than 10 people and businesses providing personal services, such as hair salons and tattoo parlors. Its leaders never ordered a closure of “non-essential” businesses or ordered people to remain in their homes.

On Tuesday, Gordon and Dr. Alexia Harrist, the state’s health officer, announced that gyms and businesses providing personal services will be allowed to open Friday.

Seven Republican members of the Legislature, in an open letter to Gordon, asked why it made sense to let some businesses open, but leave restrictions in place for others and continue to limit gatherings to 10 people or fewer.

Driskill and Lindholm, dubbed the “crypto cowboys” because of their work in technology, said people apparently do not understand that businesses can apply for for an exemption to the restrictions that are still in place.

Driskill said because the governor “kicked it down to the county level”, businesses have the freedom to apply for exemptions.

“That’s the exciting news, “Lindholm said. “You own a restaurant or a bar, you can put in an exemption with your county health officer right now,”

He said as long as businesses show how they will keep the restaurant clean, have a plan in place for social distancing and agree to screen patrons, they can work with their county public health officer to get an exemption.

The state has said that county health officers can ask for an exemption to the state health orders to allow specific businesses to open or for a county-wide variance from the orders to allow all of the businesses in a certain category to open.

Lindholm said the public health officer from Weston county is working with county commissioners and local officials to submit such a plan.

“This is great,” Lindholm said.  “This is Gov. Gordon recognizing that Crook County and Weston County damn sure don’t look like Teton and Laramie counties.” 

“This is a really good opportunity and I hope our counties take advantage of that,” Driskill said.  “We don’t have the cases up here.”

Both cautioned that in order for the rules to continue to be relaxed, Wyoming citizens need to follow public health guidelines like social distancing.

“The models keep getting destroyed because of the actions of the people of Wyoming,” Lindholm said.

“Wyoming has done a phenomenal job of flattening the curve,” Driskill said. “Assuming we continue to follow these practices, we won’t have new cases. If people ignore the protocols, we will go backwards on this.”

Lindholm did sound a note of caution, however, stating that warmer temperatures should bring more good news for the state but “then winter will come around.”

“By that time, I hope it is a cured situation,” he said.

Lindholm said most of the restaurant and bar owners he spoke to on Wednesday were “pretty pumped” to hear they could apply for an exemption, but not all.

“I did get my ass chewed a couple times,” he said. “I’d rather be just kicking open the doors. I think we can handle this ourselves without any type of restrictions but that’s not the reality that we’re living in.”

“These are just baby steps to get everything open,” Driskill said.  “You will see a lot of things will relax quickly.”

In typical Lindholm fashion, the lawmaker had some fun when concluding the first segment of the YouTube broadcast by reminding people that quarantine orders still exist for out-of-staters.

“If you are some yahoo from Colorado to come in to Wyoming, you still have to quarantine for 14 days and stay the hell away from everybody,” Lindholm said.  “Because we know that Colorado has the coronavirus.”

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Legislators Call For Investigation of Meat Processors For Monopolistic Practices

in Agriculture/Coronavirus/News
Cows
3839

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

Two Wyoming legislators joined Wyoming’s congressional delegation in calling for investigations into the four major beef processors in the United States, as the companies continue to make record profits during the coronavirus pandemic.

While retail beef prices have surged due to consumers hoarding beef, prices paid ranchers for cattle continue to stay low. State Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, noted that cattle prices are some of the lowest he’s seen in 40 years of ranching.

“This as bad as it’s ever been,” Driskill said. “We’re really in a segment where people are going to see mass closures in the ag industry.”

Driskill and his Wyoming House of Representatives colleague Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, both criticized the four major meat packing companies, Tyson, Smithfield, JBS and Cargill, for creating a monopoly that hurts ranches and small cattle producers.

Driskill recommended the public call for an investigation into these companies and enforcement of the Packers and Stockyards Act, which regulates interstate and foreign commerce in livestock, dairy, poultry and related products.

The simple step of shopping locally for meat would also be of major help, the senator added.

“The people who produce beef and the consumers are both losing out right now with this monopoly,” Driskill said. “People need to come out and say ‘If you’re going to break the ranchers, at least give us cheap food.'”

On the other hand, Lindholm blamed the companies’ misuse of the Federal Meat Inspection Act as one of the problems behind rising beef prices for consumers, but not ranchers. He believes the four major meat processing companies are using the act to push out competitors, allowing for them to process more than 80% beef in the country.

Lindholm suggested a complete repeal of the act in favor of letting the states decide how to regulate meat processing. He agreed with Driskill about buying meat locally as a solution.

“Major corporations are going to make the American West disappear,” he said. “Everyone loves seeing the green landscapes and wide open spaces out here, but the reason we have that is because of agriculture. We have to find suitable ways to promote local agriculture.”

On Thursday, U.S. Sens. Mike Enzi and John Barrasso and U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney signed on to a bipartisan letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, requesting it provide immediate assistance to cattle producers.

The letter asked USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue to take advantage of the resources provided in the recently-enacted Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Stabilization (CARES) Act, including the replenishment of the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC) and additional emergency funding. This would facilitate the stabilization of farm and ranch income for producers who are facing market volatility in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout, the letter said.

“The COVID-19 outbreak has demonstrated the need for domestic food security,” the members of Congress wrote. “All farmers and ranchers are vital to our country’s ability to keep food on the table in a future pandemic or related crisis, and many producers, including young producers, are often highly leveraged and cannot fall back on years of equity in a time of crisis. As such, we urge you to quickly deliver relief to producers as we work to lessen the economic impact of this pandemic.”

Both Driskill and Lindholm praised members of the delegation for calling on the USDA, but Driskill also admitted that the federal help will come with a bit of a stigma.

“We don’t want government payments,” he said. “We just want the ability to compete in a fair marketplace. This isn’t about getting rich. We just want to get a fair share of the profitability.”

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Bob Geha: 48-Hour Waiting Period for Abortions Approved in House

in Health care/News/politics
3214

By Bob Geha, Cowboy State Daily

A measure that would impose a 48-hour waiting period on women seeking an abortion won final approval from the House on Friday.

HB 197 was approved on the House floor on its third and final reading by a vote of 39-17.

The bill was amended to reduce a proposed sentence of 10 years for doctors who do not observe the waiting period to one year, a $1,000 fine or both.

The change was supported by Rep. Tyler Lindholm, R-Sundance, who said the penalty originally proposed in the bill was too strict.

“To apply a 10-year felony provision to that when we don’t apply the same standard to a rapist is absurd,” he said.

However, other amendments that would have reimbursed women for temporary housing, meals and other expenses while waiting the 48 hours was rejected.

Rep. Sara Burlingame, D-Cheyenne, said the amendment would have provided much needed support for women who are poor.

“I am trusting this body to say if we’re gonig to ask women to do this, we will set aside the money,” she said. “Not for all women. If you have means and you can go to Jackson, you’re on your own. But if you’re poor, then the state acknowledges your right to medical care … “

The vote sends the bill to the Senate for its review.

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