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Wendy Corr: Quit Changing The Time

in Wendy Corr
9360

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By Wendy Corr, Cowboy State Daily

Where does the light go, when you save it?

That’s where MY mind goes, when we “spring ahead”. Are we really saving daylight? 

Of course not – but every spring, we move our clocks forward in an attempt to “save” the daylight. To eke more sunshine out of every day, to relish in the “extra” time we’ll have outdoors or on our porches or in our windows.

Tonight, before we retire, we’ll go through the house, take clocks down from walls or press those little hard-to-find buttons on our alarm clocks, and move the hour number ahead just one. Unless, like me, you miss and have to keep the button pushed in until it moves all the way around again… but I digress.

Benjamin Franklin first had the “bright” idea to change the clocks twice a year. David Prerau, author of “Seize the Daylight: The Curious and Contentious Story of Daylight Saving Time”, says that in a letter to the Journal of Paris while he was the U.S. Ambassador there, Franklin proposed that by moving clocks forward, people could take advantage of the extra evening daylight rather than wasting energy on lighting. 

But the idea would not be put into practice until World War One, when it was used as a way to conserve fuel in 1918. But farmers – despite the myth – actually objected to the practice, because it meant they “lost” an hour of light in the early mornings, and their sun-dependent work put them out of sync with the merchants who bought and sold their goods.

So after the war, the action was dropped… Until the next World War – when FDR ordered the country to “spring ahead” year-round (not unlike what some states – including Wyoming – are asking to do right now).

In 1966, to prevent chaos between states, the action was regulated through federal law under the Uniform Time Act. But as time marches on, the hassle seems to be outweighing the benefits.

How many people miss church the second Sunday in March because they forgot to “spring forward”? How many pets wake their owners up at 5 a.m. to go outside, when their humans’ alarm clocks aren’t going off for another hour?

As a child, I remember how excited I was to change the clocks – all of a sudden, BANG! We could stay out later with friends, the light stayed with us longer… it was as if the sun itself was celebrating the coming of spring, and then later in the year, hibernating for the winter.

Then as I grew older, the magic part wore off. My body and brain couldn’t quite adjust as quickly – although it took just a few minutes to switch the house clocks twice a year, it took a week or more (and a significant amount of coffee in the mornings) to switch my biological clock over to the new “time zone”.

When I was a young parent, I remember the panic I felt (before cell phones updated their times automatically) when I realized that I hadn’t remembered to change my alarm clock, and we had to hustle around to get the kids (and ourselves) ready for church.

And even though I’ve passed the mid-century mark, it never fails that my mom will text me on Saturday before the time change: “Sweetie, don’t forget to change your clocks tonight!”

So I’m a fan of the movement afoot in legislatures around the country to eliminate this twice-yearly ritual, and just pick one time or another, for crying out loud!

Wyoming is one of fifteen states that have passed laws to make daylight savings time permanent. California, Florida, Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, Oregon, Idaho, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, Arkansas, Georgia, and Ohio have also expressed their exasperation with the switch between Daylight and Standard times by passing legislation to borrow an hour from the morning light and attach it to the afternoon.

But I wouldn’t be opposed to staying on Standard Time, honestly. Yes, we’ve gotten used to the sky staying light until 9:30 in June – but I’m sure we’d adjust our expectations after a while, just as we would if we all switched to Daylight Time and went to work and school in the dark at 8 a.m. in the winter.

And it would be an easier sell for the Federal government, which allows states to “opt out” of Daylight Saving Time (as Arizona and Hawaii already do). If we want to switch permanently to Daylight Saving, however, there are a lot more hurdles to jump through before Congress will even consider “allowing” states to make the change.

I say, let’s just pick a plan and stay with it. After all, the hours of daylight that we experience don’t change – it’s what we DO within those hours that matter. 

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Opinion: No Candidate With Only 30% Of Vote Should Lead 100% Of The People

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9350

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By Reps. Mark Jennings, Chip Neiman, Jeremy Haroldson, John Bear

If there is one lesson we have all learned over the last 5 months, it is that elections matter and preserving the integrity of our elections is our responsibility.   We must work hard to ensure our elections are conducted fairly and that the outcome reflects the will of the people.  It is hard to think of an issue that matters more at this crucial time in our nation’s history. 

Over the next 2 weeks, the Wyoming Legislature will be considering Senate File 145, which would require a runoff election in Wyoming elections when the highest vote-getter does not receive more than 50% of the vote.  In short, no candidate who wins 30% of the vote should be allowed to lead 100% of the people.  We support passage of this bill with an immediate implementation in 2022 and urge you to do the same.  Our representational form of government is founded on the basic principle that elections are decided by a majority of the people.  However, in Wyoming, the winner of the Republican primary often has barely 30% of the vote.  This effectively disenfranchises 60-70% of Wyoming voters.  The runoff bill would ensure that our elected leaders are clearly the choice of the majority of voters, not just a plurality.

Immediate implementation of the runoff bill is imperative because it is not uncommon for Wyoming elections to be decided by less than a majority of votes.  For example, in 2010, Matt Mead won the Republican gubernatorial primary with 29% of the vote and Rita Meyer placed second with 28.4% of the vote.  The 2 candidates were separated by a mere 714 votes.  This occurred again in 2018 in a 6-candidate gubernatorial race, when Mark Gordon won 33.4% of the vote, compared to Foster Friess’ 25.6%.  See a pattern?  We do.  If a runoff election had been required in either of those elections, it is likely the more conservative candidate would have won the runoff election.

Why does this occur so often?  Well, the vast majority of Wyoming voters are conservative Republicans.  In reality, the Wyoming Republican primary decides the race.  As a result, the Republican primary often attracts multiple candidates.  When multiple conservatives run against a self-labeled “moderate” or liberal candidate, the conservative voters historically split the conservative vote amongst several candidates and the moderate candidate wins a plurality.  It is sometimes referred to as a “circular firing squad.”

That’s how multiple state and national candidates won their elections.  And that’s how Rep. Liz Cheney hopes to win back her seat, despite dismal polling numbers.  However, this is not about Liz Cheney.  Our support for this bill is not about particular people or personalities, it’s about percentages.  Thirty percent of the voters should not decide our elections.  Can we run the risk of sending people to represent us who only garnered support from 30% of voters, or less?

Now, having lots of good candidates to choose from is not a bad thing.  We should encourage elections in which people have ample choices rather than only having select frontmen handpicked by political machines.   Therefore, discouraging good candidates from running and disenfranchising voters is not the solution.  Instead, borrowing the runoff election concept from other States, like South Dakota, Texas and Oklahoma, which have utilized them successfully for decades, is the better solution.  Again, no candidate who wins 30% of the vote should be leading 100% of the people.

The runoff election bill is overwhelmingly supported by the Wyoming Republican Party, which passed a resolution supporting runoff elections at its February State Central Committee meeting.  The runoff election concept is consistent with the Wyoming Republican Party ByLaws, which require a runoff election in its officer elections when the highest vote-getter does not receive more than 50% of the vote.  This ensures that our leaders have the support of the majority of the people, not just a vocal minority.

For these reasons, we support the runoff bill as long as it goes into effect immediately for the 2022 elections.  We encourage you to contact your Senator and Representative and urge them to do the same.  To find out who your legislators are, go to http://redistricting.state.wy.us/planviewer/ and email them or call them today.

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Bill Sniffin: Wyoming’s Long, Long, Long, Long, Long Year Of Plague, Economic Distress

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9305

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

The first big bombshell occurred almost exactly a year ago when the state high school basketball tournaments in Casper were cancelled because of a new virus on the world stage.

From then on, folks we have been on a long, strange journey. 

Last March, we were terrified by the TV images of horrific scenes in hospitals in New York City and in Italy.  If that was the plague it certainly appeared to be coming for us!

Wyoming put in lots of restrictions and cancelled just about everything and then we just stayed put – we sat around and waited for the apocalypse.  And waited. And waited.

My column on May 10, 2020,  pointed out how spectacular the statistics were in Wyoming with just eight deaths, lowest in the USA. We had more traffic deaths than Covid deaths. Our numbers of sick people were tiny compared to other states.  In a burst of bravado, I speculated this might be the biggest over-reaction in history.  

Few people had predicted that the Cowboy State would be so much safer than the rest of the world. 

Wyoming is a big, lonely empty place with six people per square mile.  New York City has 27,000 people per square mile. The Big Apple is full of crowded apartments and subways. New York City is a claustrophobic place for most Wyomingites. Watching the horror on TV of their emergency rooms and listening to the daily beseeching from Gov. Andrew Cuomo, well, it was easy to believe the world was coming to an end. This plague was coming for us, too. 

Milan, Italy, has 19,000 people per square mile.  Have you been to Italy? People there live long lives. These are truly the most loving and sociable people on the planet with many three-generation family units. Italian life span is 83.2 years. This compares to 78.5 in the USA. Watching the carnage on TV was awful. Yet 80 percent of the people who died in Italy were over 60 years of age and most had underlying health conditions.  Was this our future?  Back during the spring of 2020,  it looked like it could be.

It was not.  Most definitely. At least not right away.

With Wyoming being such a big open place, it was logical that it would be a magnet for tourists.  Everything here was shut down at first but then the dam burst in mid-June.  

We had record tourism in August, September, and October and despite 5 million visitors over the tourist season we saw no spike in Covid cases. It was almost an innocent time. How could Wyoming dodge this bullet?

Back on May 17, 2020, we made national news when a Cheyenne club became the first strip club in the country to reopen. I assume the dancers wore masks on their faces, despite little else.

Wyoming received some $1.25 billion in federal CARES aid. The Wyoming Business Council did a fantastic job of making grants to state businesses under guidelines developed by the legislature, which met by Zoom.  Zoom became one of the hottest businesses in the country as everybody jumped on the remote meeting bandwagon. 

While Wyoming remained one of the states with the fewest health-related restrictions in the nation through the spring and summer of 2020, that changed in the fall and winter as the number of active cases in the state skyrocketed from 3,266 on Oct. 24 to 11,861 one month later.

The increase prompted Gov. Mark Gordon and state Public Health Officer Dr. Alexia Harrist to impose a requirement that people wear face masks in public.

In the late fall of  2020 we peaked with 11,861 cases. Even Gov. Mark Gordon tested positive. On Dec. 7, he issued a statewide mask mandate. People were hunkering down. The plague had arrived in Wyoming with a vengeance. 

Because of Covid, Wyoming, in several ways, has been forever changed.

Many of the new systems and techniques put into place during the last 200 days  will continue on into the future. Biggest things will be state-wide meetings being held with Zoom, distance education, and telehealth medicine.

Wyoming people drive more miles per year than people in any other state, on a per-capita basis.  We have good roads.  We are small in population but have been almost desperate to get together for meetings, it seems. 

For 50 years, my typical Wyoming day often meant driving three hours to Casper or Rawlins or Rock Springs or Jackson or Cody or Pinedale for a two-hour meeting and then driving three hours home.  In the summers, we even would make the 4.5-hour trip to Cheyenne for a meeting and then drive back home in the same day.  

Not anymore. We will Zoom those meetings. 

Our legislators have been meeting almost non-stop by Zoom and I predict that whenever this darned pandemic ends, that option will continue.  The computer-generated meetings are not as comfortable as in-person meetings but they certainly work better than anything else I have ever seen. 

The months of December and January were rough but then the vaccines arrived. As I write this on March 12, 2021, times are good. Cases are way down. The mask mandate comes off this week. 

But sadly, the death toll almost hit 700 on the one-year anniversary. 

It has been a very long year.  Now in 2021, we can again  appreciate what normal life is all about. What a relief!

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Jim Hicks: Do We Still Measure Trips In Wyoming ‘By The Six-Pack?

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9297

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By Jim Hicks

BUFFALO – Watch out!  March came in like a lamb . . . so we probably shouldn’t hang the snow shovels up in the back of the garage yet.

One of the best stories we’ve heard around the village this week has to do with an “older” local couple who up-graded their transportation recently.

They didn’t buy a new car, but it was new enough to have one of those dash-board screens as part of the equipment.

That was a complete mystery to them, but a younger neighbor (in his early 70’s) volunteered to help them learn how to use it.

He explained one of the biggest advantages was a “navigation system” that would remove the Atlas Map book from his wife’s hands and save on a lot of “rolling” arguments.

He demonstrated how to “punch in” the address of destination and then simply push the “GO” button and a nice lady’s voice would give them directions during the trip.

“Let’s set one up and you can take mamma for a drive and see how it works,” he said.

So, he typed in “10 Hillside Avenue, Buffalo, WY” and told the happy couple to push the “GO” button and follow the nice lady’s directions.

They did that and the voice from the dashboard started telling them where to turn as they progressed.

It took them south of town near the high school and then west on the road toward Klondike Ave.

As they approached Willow Grove Cemetery the voice said “turn left here”. They were a bit surprised, but followed the directions.

That’s when they found out their helpful neighbor had a pretty good sense of humor.

The lady’s voice came over the speaker in the car and announced . . . “you have reached your final destination.”

Meanwhile, at one of those clandestine coffee meetings that have sprung up since the Covid crisis, we were being up-dated about what was going on with the Wyoming Legislature.

A lot of it has been conducted with computers over the internet with something called “Zoom” meetings where participants show up in boxes on a computer screen.

They say they are making progress, but also admit they are millions and millions of dollars short of what they need (mostly to finance education).  Those serious problems make issues in past years seem a lot less dramatic.

As recently as 2016 the lawmakers were struggling with what now appears not to be so important.  At that time Doug Osborn was serving as the Representative in House from Johnson County.

When the session was over he got a letter from one local voter that was pretty funny.

Noticing that the lawmakers had passed a bill to drop the sales tax from grocery items, this guy asked Rep. Osborn why he didn’t have to pay sales tax on olives when he still had to pay it on vermouth.

“It’s kind of like paying tax on bread, but not on butter,” he wrote. 

And the same guy told Rep. Osborn that the bill to ban open containers in vehicles was going to cause a lot of confusion in Wyoming. He claimed that everyone “knows Casper is one six-pack from Buffalo and Cheyenne is a little over a half-case away.”

(It was in jest and not a plea to support drinking and driving)

Rep. Osborn’s response was classic.  He told them age would take care of the problem.

“Soon,” he wrote, “you all will measure distances in “potty stops.”

And it’s probably good to see the lawmakers consider doing away with the death penalty. It’s almost never used and results in costing taxpayers millions as those cases drag out in court for years.

It’s not a new idea. In the late 1970’s the death penalty was being debated in the Wyoming Senate when one member got up and said . . . “well if they are gonna kill one of us we are gonna kill ‘em back.”

Another explained that he didn’t know if it was the right action to take or not, but he had noticed it put a stop to recidivism. (Most of us had to look that one up in the dictionary).

We hope you have a great week and the Bench Sitters will write again if they get time.

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Dennis Sun: Slower Mail, Higher Prices

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9228

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By Dennis Sun, columnist

Those who live in rural areas, as well as those living in urban areas, cherish electricity, telephone, broadband and a prompt U.S. Postal Service. It is something we’ve become accustomed to.

So far this year, everything seems to be reliable, except for the mail service.

We hear it has big troubles. Last year, the USPS had a booming business. The agency netted a positive cash flow of almost $2 billion in the first half of the year.

How can the USPS be in such financial trouble? From what I can find, there are two looming issues – a 2006 law passed by Congress and unions.

In 2006, Congress passed the Postal Accountability and Enhancement Act during a lame-duck session which required the USPS to pre-fund 75 years worth of retiree healthcare benefits in a span of roughly 10 years.

So far, the USPS has paid $20.9 billion into benefits, but the agency deferred around $47.2 billion as of September 2019. Those delayed payments still count as an expense, meaning regardless of the agency’s financial success over the last few years, its balance sheet will continue to report enormous losses.

I’ve heard there are six unions involved in the USPS, and those unions got to Congress during the lame-duck session of 2006. Lord only knows how it got passed.

At the moment, the USPS is implementing policies to slow down mail delivery, especially in rural areas, due to a loss of revenue.

Last year, President Trump appointed a donor to become the USPS Postmaster General, along with his appointees on the board. They cut overtime and other parts of USPS spending.

All at once, the mail slowed down and their customers started complaining – rightfully so. The complaints were enough to prompt Postmaster General Louis DeJoy to suspend operational changes in August 2020 after heavy criticism over postal delays. He now plans to release a new 10-year strategic break-even plan, which includes slower mail and higher prices, potentially as soon as late March.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairwomen Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) made the case for action as the USPS faces shrinking volumes of first-class mail, increased costs of employee compensation and benefits, and higher unfunded liabilities and debt.

Maloney drafted legislation on USPS financial issues, such as eliminating a requirement to pre-fund retiree health benefits and require postal employees to enroll in government-retiree health plan Medicare for a savings of $40 to $50 billion over 10 years.

DeJoy said the reform bill, the USPS Fairness Act, “Alone doesn’t solve the problem.”

One union is asking Congress to award the USPS an additional $15 billion and called for a separate modernization grant of $25 billion. The USPS will also ask the Biden administration to recalculate pension obligations, which would save the USPS around $12 billion.

In December, Congress converted a $10 billion U.S. Treasury loan to the USPS into a grant and now the USPS wants more stimulus dollars.

The USPS just announced a Wisconsin-based maker of military trucks, Oshkosh Corp., won a long-delayed $6 billion, 10-year contract to build as many as 165,000 mail trucks.

This is mind boggling!

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Dave Simpson: We’re Just As Bad As The Democrats

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9203

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By Dave Simpson, columnist

Readers respond to recent columns:

– A column I wrote about the death of Rush Limbaugh netted over 140 comments on Facebook, many of them skewering me for having listened to Rush for 32 years. They beat me like a rented mule.

In that column, I asked “…why is it so controversial to want a government that isn’t running up catastrophic debt…?”

To which a critic cited the amount the national debt increased under Donald Trump. (Plenty.)

The assumption was that I only blame Democrats for the debt. Not so. I have written here many times that I blame both parties for spending our grand children into crushing debt.

In fact, I tend to blame Republicans more than Democrats, because Democrats make no bones about spending us into oblivion. Republicans promise to do something about the debt, but never do. At least the Democrats are honest about their determination to outspend drunken sailors.

So it’s a continuous, bipartisan, spendthrift bacchanal, as our world-class porkers from both parties use borrowed dollars to reassure their own re-election.

And shamelessly mortgage the future of our grand kids.

– A month ago, I wrote about a ride I took on a B-52 bomber back in 1981, flying over South Dakota, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah and Idaho. The crew practiced mid-air refueling, then flew at 500 feet (very low) diagonally across Wyoming, simulating bomb drops near the towns of Douglas and Powell.

In that column, I mentioned a Wall Street Journal article, which reported that the aging B-52 will be in use until 2050 – a full 90 years after its design and entry into service. Two B-52 replacements – the B-1B and the B-2 – have not panned out. The B-1B developed problems with it’s movable wings, and the B-2, at $2 billion per plane, was deemed too costly.

That sparked this email from a reader in Palmdale, California:

“Dear Mr. Simpson:
“I enjoyed your story of flying low in a B-52.
“Am writing you to comment on the reason the B-2 bombers became $2B aircraft.
“B-2 production was humming along when the Berlin Wall came down and soon after the fall of the Soviet Union. The Cold War was now over. The requirement for the B-2 in the arsenal re-evaluated.

“The first cut to production was from 132 to 75, then later to 21. The $2B to build each airplane is due to the non-recurring expenses being charged to just 21 aircraft.
“Think of it as if General Motors built the Saturn factory in TN, engineered the product, tooled it up, built up a supplier base, trained workers, produced 21 cars then suddenly ceased production, and shut it down. Those 21 cars would each carry a very heavy price tag.”

Well, that explains it. Thanks to my Palmdale reader.

– In a column last week, I mentioned old retired guys – like me – who have taken over the cooking duties in their homes, giving their wives a break after they cooked for decades. I cited a poem titled “Pot Wrasslers” by the late cowboy poet Curley Fletcher. And that elicited this response from “a Wyoming gal in Colorado:”

“Dear Mr. Simpson:

“I love that you are working at being the at home Pot Wrassler! It sounds like you are getting pretty brave and creative. Cooking is actually fun, I think, and a science.

“Too many people, at least in the cities, don’t bother cooking anymore – prepared deli meals, fast food, or God help us all, UBER Eats. Now that is certainly NOT even close to Pot Wrassling. Those folks wouldn’t last a day on the cowboy trails.

“Thanks for a fun article. Keep Wrassling.”

Years ago, when I ran a newsroom in Nebraska, I noticed that the younger staff members went out to lunch or dinner pretty much every day. Then I would hear them complain that they just never seemed to have enough money. I told them they ought to quit spending money eating in restaurants so often, and buy a Crock Pot. Put a cheap hunk of meat in there with some carrots and potatoes, and there’s your dinner for a couple days.

Nobody ever took my advice.

Dave Simpson can be contacted at davesimpson145@hotmail.com

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Jonathan Lange: ‘No Such Thing As A Free (School) Lunch’ – Let’s Get Wyoming Education Right

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9180

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By Jonathan Lange, columnist

Governor Gordon’s recent “State of the State” address urged legislators to address Wyoming’s education program in the long term. “This is far more than a budget issue,” he said, “and I want our stakeholders and our communities to be involved in establishing a plan and vision.” Wise words.

It was refreshing to hear the governor go beyond the worn-out bromides that the only way to serve Wyoming’s children is through budget increases. He noted that: “Education is changing.” No doubt, he was talking about the seismic effects that COVID-19 had in driving students online and masking them once they returned.

But changes in educational attitudes had been underway long before COVID-19 crushed funding sources, scattered communities, and muted voices. Increasingly, parents have been calling for reformed educational structures that are more responsive to local voices and family values. When Zoom brought classrooms under the watchful eye of parents everywhere, it only accelerated that trend.

“People want, and need, more opportunities and approaches,” Gordon said, “Wyoming needs to respond.” He is not the only one saying it. This year’s legislative session has a flood of education bills filed for introduction. Nearly 10 percent of more than 400 bills under consideration deal with education. 

As legislators begin the task of sorting through this stack of bills, let us reassert some basic pillars of education. These should be the drivers of educational reform, not mere afterthoughts.

First, the education of minor children is not the primary responsibility of the state, but of the parents. This is—and must remain—the bedrock principle of every decision that the legislature makes. To follow the governor’s call for the involvement of “stakeholders and communities,” in the law-making process means to recognize that the principal stake holders are the parents themselves.

This is not a departure from the Wyoming Constitution’s requirement that “The legislature shall provide for the establishment and maintenance of a complete and uniform system of public instruction.” Rather, it reminds the legislature that this constitutional provision was written by Wyoming parents and for Wyoming parents.

Wyoming’s school system should not serve the interest of the state—or any other actor that might coopt the education system to advance its own agenda. Our legislators must not be overawed by the slick slogans of monied lobbyists claiming to speak for the children. This is especially true when those voices would overpower the voices of parents themselves, as though lobbyists and bureaucrats are better equipped to love children than their own parents.

Second, policy makers and parents alike know that “there is no such thing as a free (school) lunch.” Money, whether received from a national education organization or bestowed from a government agency, will inevitably come with strings attached. Those strings must be disclosed with full transparency in order truly to count their cost.

On the other hand, parents and policy makers must remember always that this money did not come from the government, but from the parents and grandparents of Wyoming students. For legislators, that means faithful stewardship of hard-earned dollars that were taken from their students’ homes. For parents, it means demanding that your dollars be controlled locally. 

The third principle is subsidiarity. While acknowledging that community cooperation is necessary to accomplish some educational tasks, subsidiarity demands that such cooperation take place as close to the parents as is possible for the task. 

Sometimes, it means that education dollars should be put directly into the hands of the parents themselves. When parents find that their child needs something that the local school cannot provide, parents should be given the option to be refunded some of their tax dollars to compensate for the expenditure. 

It is simply unfair to expect parents to pay twice—once for an education product that they cannot use, and again for the education that their child truly needs. Legislators should not second-guess such a parent’s assessment of what is necessary for his child. To do so is arrogantly to deny the first principle of education. 

Of course, refunds of government money can easily be laden with strings that violate the principle enunciated above. Legislators should be careful to restrain themselves from the human tendency to use such money to manipulate parents. When possible, such refunds are better accomplished by tax credits than by refunded taxes.

Finally, it is important to acknowledge that conservation of the status quo is not the same as conservatism. Legislators and parents should take this watershed moment as an opportunity to reassess every aspect of Wyoming’s education policy. The principles of child-centered, parent-driven education are what need to be conserved, not past compromises. 

Parents, in cooperation with legislators should work to reject progressive harms that have become baked into current law. As the governor said, “Wyoming needs to respond.”

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Marti Halverson: I Strongly Oppose a Convention of States

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9156

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To:  Senate Minerals, Business & Economic Development Committee

From:  Marti Halverson

            Re: Senate Joint Resolution 2, Convention of States-2

Gentlemen –

I strongly OPPOSE this Resolution and urge your NAY vote.

My testimony against Senate Joint Resolution 2, calling for a Convention of States, comes from the perspective that our current Constitution is pretty darn near perfect.  I don’t think it needs amending.

The three calls:

1.  “. . . impose fiscal restraints on the federal government . . .”  This is an admirable goal, but it is beyond naïve to think an amendment to the Constitution is going to restrain any administration with a currency printing press at its disposal.  The Office of Management and Budget, House and Senate Budget Committees, House and Senate Ways and Means Committees, and other actors involved in this country’s fiscal and budget policies, are capable of such smoke and mirrors that any “restraint” imposed by the Constitution will become just another minor hurdle to work around.  A recent example is President Obama’s claiming the PPACA (“Obamacare”) was “paid for” – while hiding $750 million stolen from Medicare to pay for it.  Crafty government officials and congressional staffers can spin a budget to fit any restraint a convention fantasizes it can impose.  And – do not doubt this – any new attempt to fiscally restrain Washington, D.C. will be the excuse any administration needs to impose massive tax increases.

2.  “. . . limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government . . .”  The power of the federal government is already limited by Article 1, Section 8 of the original Constitution, plus the Ninth Amendment and the Tenth Amendment.  I can’t imagine what amendment could be brought that is more explicit, or include more limitations than those.  As the federal government has, for 200 years since Congress first proposed an unconstitutional Transportation Department, felt unlimited in its power and jurisdiction, aided and abetted by a complicit judiciary that finds the rights to “privacy” and “dignity” in our Constitution, no amendment could possibly overcome congressional compulsions to act for the “general welfare” – even though that is only in Preamble, not the Constitution itself.  (And, make no mistake – there is vigorous debate that the clauses of the Preamble are NOT part of the Constitution.)  Finally, for those who think, however mistakenly, that the Supreme Court of the United States is the ultimate authority, remember that its Chevron deference gave all the power to the unelected agencies to interpret the laws as they see fit.  The states and we citizens of those states don’t have a chance of limiting the power and jurisdiction of the federal government as long as that ruling stands.

3.  “. . . limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.”  This is an especially egregious call, in my opinion.  Our US senators and representatives are the only members of the federal government that come home to face the voters.  I stipulate that many of them are part of the numerous problems that have plagued our relationship with the federal government, but they are only one cause of the very serious congressional and governmental dysfunctions.  The others are:

• the REAL “permanent political class” that are long-serving, partisan, unelected bureaucrats at every level who cannot be fired;

• long-serving, powerful, partisan unelected congressional and congressional committee staffers;

• long-serving, unelected, powerful highly paid special interest-lobbyists who write the bills for the long-serving, unelected, partisan congressional committee staffers;

•rotating, highly paid academic and crony-capitalist contractor consultants;

• wealthy, partisan, issue-oriented foundations that work with and influence the administrative, rule-writing, unaccountable bureaucracy, today commonly referred to as the “fourth branch of government,” a branch that is neither Constitutional nor democratic.

What amendment, or amendments could a convention possibly bring to fix all this?

“Officials” who are political appointees are already serving at the pleasure of an incumbent President.  As a matter of fact, they are the only government officials that are “term limited.” 

Most of the employees of the federal government are protected by the 1883 Civil Service Act, enacted in the Progressive Era, and strengthened regularly since, and their unions.  Witness the efforts of two Presidents and the many years it took to finally fire the director of the Veterans Administration.

Our country’s earliest document, The Articles of Confederation included term limits, known at the time as “rotation” but were omitted in the 1789 Constitution in favor of frequent elections.  Those who stood against term limits in 1789 argued that regular elections by the people could be a better check on corruption than constitutional limits, and that such restrictions would create their own problems.

On the other hand, long-serving representatives and senators use their tenure to more effectively advocate for constituents who need to deal with the deep-state bureaucracy, recently called “the federal colossus,” of the Social Security Administration, Medicare or Veterans Affairs, just to name three, than new congressmen who arrive in Washington, D.C. with expiration dates stamped on their foreheads.

Please know that the average tenure of a US Congressman is 6.5 years.  The group US Term Limits lost in the United States Supreme Court, in a unanimous decision (US Term Limits v. Thornton).  A Constitutional amendment is their final recourse.

Exactly WHO is driving Term Limits?  And, exactly, WHY?  Exactly WHO is so invested in limiting the terms of the only people that have to “go home” to face the voters, and to assess, first hand, the impact of their decisions, that so much money and effort has been poured into this terrible idea?  Term limits may add “rotation” to the legislative branch, but it will only cede additional power to a permanent, fourth branch of government – bureaucratic staffers who do not stand for election.

In summary: 

It is naïve to expect any amendment to the Constitution to impose fiscal restraints on a body whose livelihood depends on unrestrained financial largess; “ways will be found” to circumvent any restraints imposed by an amendment.

Many states, including Wyoming, are now developing mechanisms by which the power and jurisdiction of the federal government may be limited.  One mechanism is Thomas Jefferson’s “rightful remedy” – nullification.

One only needs to look at California to see Exhibit A of the utter failure of term limits and its consequences.  Term limits is the ultimate dream of the unelected bureaucracy.  Without those pesky electeds to deal with, that “fourth branch” of powerful, rule-making, regulation-imposing, can’t-be-fired, actual powers-that-be will be unfettered in their tyranny.

Please vote NO on SJ2, calling for a convention of states.

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Rod Miller: The Model Is In Your Hand

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By Rod Miller, columnist

The poet Gary Snyder once wrote that “when making an axe handle, the model is in your hand.” Wyoming’s legislature should remember this truism while struggling with hate crime or anti-discrimination legislation for the Equality State.

A copy of the Constitution of the State of Wyoming is readily available to each legislator, and I hope that they each carry a dog-eared, highlighted copy of this most egalitarian and humane document in their pocket. The model is in their hand.

Here’s what our constitution has to say about discrimination, from Article I, at the very front of the document: Sec. 2. Equality of all. In their inherent right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, all members of the human race are equal.

Sec. 3. Equal political rights. Since equality in the enjoyment of natural and civil rights is only made sure through political equality, the laws of this state affecting the political rights and privileges of its citizens shall be without distinction of race, color, sex, or any circumstance or condition whatsoever other than individual incompetency, or unworthiness duly ascertained by a court of competent jurisdiction.

I’m no lawyer, but it looks to me like anytime that anyone violates another Wyomingite’s “natural and civil rights” because of who they sleep with, what they worship, how they act or dress, or any other reason that sets them apart, then they have violated our constitution. I see no wiggle room. None at all.

Now, nothing in our constitution requires that you have to accept or love a person whose lifestyle or appearance is so different from yours that it makes you blow snot bubbles. It only says that their rights are exactly the same as yours. The Wyoming Constitution renders “identity politics” moot.

If you want to read up on requirements for whom you should love or accept, I’d suggest the Gospel of Matthew, chapters 5-7. The Framers of the Wyoming Constitution weren’t preaching salvation, they were just laying down the law.

Here’s a simple suggestion to legislators who are struggling, on one side or the other, with writing anti-discrimination legislation. Don’t load it up with a lot of lawyer talk, and a litany of do’s and don’ts.

Just cut and paste the above sections of our constitution and add something like, “Anyone found guilty of violating another human being’s natural and civil rights in Wyoming will be subject to a fine of X dollars, and a term in prison of X years.” The model is in your hand.

Maybe we DO need a statute that codifies our constitution with regard to civil rights. That’s a sad commentary on us, though. It means that we either don’t know what our constitution says on the matter, or else we don’t believe in it enough to act accordingly.

This is most certainly NOT socialistic, libtard drivel. There is nothing more conservative than a deep belief in the constitution, and a willingness to defend it by living it in our day to day lives.

So, if it takes a hate crime or anti-discrimination statute to realize the humanistic dream of our Wyoming Founders, then I’m all for it. But it shouldn’t stray too far from the model.

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Bill Sniffin: Only Trump Can Beat Cheney Out Here In Cowboy State

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By Bill Sniffin, publisher

If you had asked me three weeks ago if U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney was beatable in her quest for reelection in 2022, I would have said “no way.”

Today, the landscape has shifted.

Former President Donald Trump has retaken charge of the national Republican Party.  He did that at the big CPAC meeting Sunday.

From that podium, he singled out Cheney as a “war-monger” and made it clear he is holding a world-class grudge against Wyoming’s sole U.S. Representative. Nobody holds a grudge better than Trump and he is putting Liz into a special category. Like a crazed pit bull, he says he is coming for her.

When the U. S. House voted to impeach Trump in January, just ten Republicans joined their 222 Democrat counterparts voting in favor. Cheney was the most prominent and has been vocal since then in defending her vote.

Trump is not alone in his disdain for Cheney. Almost half of Wyoming’s county Republican committees have censured Cheney (plus the state committee) and some even demanded she resign.

Trump wants to make an example out of his war with Cheney and Wyoming will be that battleground.

So, could the normally unbeatable Liz Cheney be defeated in 2022?  It all comes down to Trump.  First he would have to designate a single Wyoming candidate he wants to support early, perhaps in the next few months.  Then he would promote that single candidate and will come to Wyoming and hold a rally (or two) for that candidate.

He will also send in surrogates like Donald Trump Jr. and others to stump for this mystery candidate.

And, he will open the floodgates of campaign money to support this one, single Republican candidate for U.S. House in the Wyoming primary again Liz.

This strategy will see this mystery candidate’s popularity grow as he or she travels the state pressing the flesh and slamming Cheney over the next 16 months.  Much of that Trump money will be used to finance the best ground game the state has ever seen – this is where the campaign literally goes door-to-door convincing every Wyoming citizen one-on-one to support this person.

By the time August of 2022 comes around, the polls could show the race a dead heat.  Then Trump will fly back into Wyoming to administer the coup de grace. On election day, the mystery candidate will have defeated Liz with 43,000 votes to her 42,000 votes with a group of wannabes picking up the other 15,000 votes.

So, who will be the mystery candidate?

State Sen. Anthony Bouchard of Cheyenne has already picked up some national money as he is going full-bore into an anti-Cheney campaign at warp speed. As the founder of the WYGO (Wyoming Gun Owners) group, he has access to thousands of die-hard supporters, state-wide.

Rep. Chuck Gray of Casper has created a flashy TV ad on YouTube and is running full-tilt.

State Rep. Ocean Andrew was thought to be the beneficiary of U. S. Rep. Matt Gaetz’s (R-Florida) anti-Cheney visit to Cheyenne recently.  Not sure if he is running but do not count him out. Any Republican who can win a House seat in liberal Albany County has some pulling power.

Brian Miller of Sheridan touts his military credentials.  He ran a statewide primary campaign last year for U. S. Senate that was won by Cynthia Lummis in a landslide.  

Darin Smith of Cheyenne has run for U. S. House before and is popular statewide. He also was campaign manager for Foster Friess’ gubernatorial race in 2018, when Friess finished second to Mark Gordon in the GOP primary.

Jillian Balow has expressed some interest.  She has handled a difficult time as Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Two smart guys from Jackson with access to big campaign money would be Dave Dodson and Bob Grady. Dodson ran hard against John Barrasso for the U.S. Senate seat a few years ago and has that experience behind him. Grady is well-connected and savvy.

Without Trump singling out one of these guys or gals out or if another mystery candidate comes forward, all these candidates will engage in the oh-so-common Republican firing squad. They get in a circle and start shooting. And Liz would emerge as a big winner in the end.

Whoever runs, Trump will need to open up his treasure chest. Cheney spent over $3 million last year defeating Democrat Lynnette Grey Bull.  This was one of the highest amounts ever spent in a Wyoming race.  Would a 2022 race cost $5 million?  $10 million? 

We are seeing lots of anti-Cheney sentiment around the state but it will be to no avail without Donald Trump, himself, directing traffic.  Stay tuned, folks. This could be momentous.

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