By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
A representative from Gillette has decided to not to seek the censure of one of his colleagues for breach of conduct, he confirmed to Cowboy State Daily.
Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette, told his colleagues on Friday that he was going to bring a motion to censure “one member and possibly two members” of the body this week, but he said Tuesday he had changed his mind.
“I simply evaluated what would lead to the best result as far as maintaining decorum as we go forward with technology like video conferencing,” Bear told Cowboy State Daily late Tuesday.
“The public nature of censure and the potential divisiveness of the debate would not improve the legislature’s reputation nor our decorum, so I chose a more private path of petitioning leadership to change the consequences to something more appropriate and more likely to reduce further breeches of decorum,” he said.
During a House debate on Thursday, the third day of the Legislature’s ongoing special session, Rep. Steve Harshman, R-Casper, who was participating in the session by Zoom, was overheard using foul language directed at fellow Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper.
“Chuck Gray, f*****,” he was heard saying. “Little f*******.”
Harshman, the former Speaker of the House, did not realize his audio was on when he made the comments.
Harshman was reprimanded on Friday by his successor, House Speaker Rep. Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, who identified three breaches of conduct Harshman committed on Thursday: Addressing the body without permission from the chair, using a name of another member and inappropriate language.
Harshman’s Zoom privileges were also revoked for the duration of the special session, called to chart Wyoming’s response to a proposed federal coronavirus vaccine mandate.
A censure, a formal expression of disapproval with no binding effect, must be approved by a majority of those in the House. Had representatives voted to support it, Harshman would have been the first legislator in recent history to be censured.
Bear had said last week he would bring a motion to censure Harshman and one possibly one other unidentified House member when representatives returned to the Capitol to resume the special session Wednesday.