Sunday, January 09, 2011

2011 Wyoming Legislature up in arms about nearly everything

At least three bills targeting the U.S. Affordable Health Care Act are on the Wyoming Legislature's docket. The Legislature gets down to business Tuesday in Cheyenne. No word yet on whether members plan to mimic their colleagues inside the Beltway by spending the first day reading the U.S. Constitution (edited Republican version) or the Wyoming Constitution. This won't be necessary if the Legislature adopts a proposal by Sen. Kit Jennings of Casper ( that would require all holders of civil offices to take a three-hour course on the Wyoming and U.S. Constitutions. While refresher courses on high school civics might be an eye-opener for Democrats and Republicans alike, not to mention the Tea Party faithful, this bill seems like a gigantic waste of time.

Speaking of gigantic time-wasters, here are the three bills (so far) that attempt to undo national health care reform (via Joan Barron and Jeremy Pelzer at the Casper Star-Tribune):
House Bill 39: Health care litigation fund
Sponsor: Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Interim Committee.
Summary: Creates a $2 million account for the state of Wyoming to sue the federal government over the federal health care reform law passed last year.
Background: On Monday, Wyoming will join 20 other states in a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of parts of the federal health care law expanding Medicaid and requiring that most Americans purchase health insurance.
Debate: Supporters say the health care law violates Wyomingites' constitutional rights and that the costs of a lawsuit will be cheaper than what the law would force the state to pay in health care funding. Opponents say the health care law needs to be given a chance to work and that the state has more important things to spend its money on than joining an existing lawsuit.
SJ 002: Health Care Freedom
Sponsor: Sen. Leslie Nutting, R-Cheyenne (
This bill would place on the general election ballot an amendment to the Wyoming Constitution to specify no federal or state law shall compel participation in any health care system by any person, employer or health care provider.
Summary: This bill is directed at the federal Affordable Health Care Act.
SJ 0003: Health Care Freedom-2
Sponsor: Sen. Charles Scott, R-Casper (
This bill would place on the general election ballot an amendment to the Wyoming Constitution to recognize individual rights to make health care decisions and to prohibit specified state actions limiting decisions. It also authorizes the attorney general to participate in litigation to protect the right to make health care decisions.
Summary: This bill authorizes the attorney general to sue the federal government and have the Affordable Health Care Act declared unconstitutional.
As a counterpoint to this nonsense, I offer up evidence of the benefits (thus far) that have accrued to Wyomingites through the Affordable Health Care Act. This comes from a new year's message on Jan. 2 from Chuck Herz, state chair of the Wyoming Democratic Party:
Obama’s signature accomplishment was the health care reform that had long eluded us. It was clouded by controversy and disinformation about what the reform does. But the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.
When fully operational in 2014 "Obamacare" will ensure that millions (thousands of Wyomingites) who’ve had no insurance or insurance that covers too little no longer need play Russian roulette with family health and finances. It will secure us from having to pay for those who choose to play Russian roulette, forcing others to pick up the tab when they can’t pay. Those with "pre-existing conditions" will get coverage. Preventive care will reduce risk of serious illness and costlier care. Your insurer can no longer cut you off just when you need expensive care on grounds of some technical error. Trials of promising ways to limit costs will begin. And according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, all this will reduce, not add to, the federal deficit.
Those who attack "Obamacare" owe an adequate alternative solution to all these problems and a national health care system that has cost us far more of our GDP, and delivered poorer health results (life expectancy, child mortality, etc.), than the systems of other nations.
Here are stats for you from the Obama for Wyoming site: 9,112 Wyomingites with pre-existing conditions will no longer be denied coverage by greedy insurance corporations; 72,000 uninsured Wyomingites will now be insured; and tax credits can be claimed by 44,600 individuals, 400 families and 10,900 businesses.

That ain't hay, now is it?

Repubs know that the longer thoughtful people in Wyoming and elsewhere have to contemplate the benefits of "Obamacare," the less likely they will want to have those benefits taken away. Especially when those benefits are threatened by men and women enjoying universal health care coverage provided by U.S. taxpayers. House Republicans were scheduled to begin debate on repeal of the Affordable Health Care Act this Wednesday in D.C. That has been put on hold due to the tragic events yesterday in Tucson, when one of their own House members was gunned down at a town meeting.

The Wyoming Repubs may get to the topic before their D.C.-based brethren and sistren.

To what end? Most of the newbies in the Wyoming State Legislature owe their elections to Tea Party activists and other voters who were Simply Wildly Indignant about Nearly Everything, real or imagined (mostly imagined). So legislators are carrying out the will -- real or imagined -- of the voters.

Still awaiting word on legislation to investigate Pres. Obama's American heritage ("He ain't no citizen -- I have proof he was born in Kenya!") and his religion ("He's a Muslim -- the Internet said so"). Other zaniness is sure to follow.

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