2020 Legislative Preview

The Wyoming State Legislature convenes on Monday, February 10 for its budget session. We wanted to offer a quick primer on the Wyoming State Legislature before things really get fast and furious over there.


Things you might want to know:


By constitutional mandate, the Legislature meets 60 days per biennium, hosting 20-day budget sessions in even numbered years, and 40-day general session in odd numbered years.


Most everything you need to follow along with the Legislature during the session can be found on their website.


We'd encourage you to get familiar with your elected officials—especially because it is an election year. Find your district, Senators, and Representatives here. You never know, you might just decide to run against the incumbent after listening to the session.


Bills are starting to drop. You can click 2020 Legislation to see what has come out. (If you want to see the most recent bills first, click "Last Action Date" twice and it will show you the most recent bills first.)


And sign up here for recent updates. Sometimes, you have to sign up and see how much mail you get to figure out how much mail you want. But this is the place to start if you want them to fill your inbox.


Things we want you to know:


Joint Committees—made up of members of the House and the Senate—completed their Interim Committee Meetings and work last Friday, when the Joint Appropriations Committee wrapped up their budget hearings.


This is the place where we remind readers that there are 12 men on *and zero women* on the Joint Appropriations Committee responsible for our state's budget. There are only 14 women in the entirety of the Wyoming Legislature. Eight (8) women out of a total of 60 House members and six (6) women out of a total of 30 Senate members.


Why it matters:


In case you’re thinking that equal representation isn’t essential to equitable policy, let us take this moment to disabuse you of that notion.


And let’s use Nevada’s State Legislature as the counterpoint to Wyoming’s. In 2018, voters made Nevada’s Legislature the first in the nation to have a female majority (even if it is only barely a majority). In its 2019 session, Nevada’s elected women proved why that matters: They advanced dramatically different legislation, including pay equity bills, personal safety and assault bills, and changed the tenor of the conversation entirely (fewer "Good morning, little ladies" and more accountability around sexual harassment and casual misogyny).


There seem to be two main types of policies that benefit women that get consistently overlooked or fail to advance when there are not diverse viewpoints in a Legislative body.

  1. Policies disproportionately benefit women but women are never discussed in the policy debates because the default human is assumed (usually implicitly) to be male. Minimum wage and Medicaid Expansion are great examples of this type of policy.

  2. Policies that are explicitly about women—think paycheck fairness and the pink tax—are routinely dismissed as not real or fluffy luxuries that "we’ll get to after we deal with *real* issues." Or, more to the point, these issues are dismissed in predominately male Legislatures.

In fact, closing the gender wage gap and implementing pay equity policies would move the Equality State toward true equality. Covering the tens of thousands of individuals—mostly women—who are currently uninsured because of the failure to expand Medicaid would save lives and increase worker productivity and improve the economy. Removing the discriminatory taxation on tampons that only impact women would free up their capital to reinvest in their families. Raising the minimum wage would, likewise, put dollars back into the pockets of women across the state who are working full-time for less than living wages.


These are critical tools for Wyoming's economic development that would provide competitive advantages to businesses across the Equality State. If only our Legislators would adopt them.


Let's make sure we hold them accountable.


***


Plus a few things to highlight from our weekly reading:

  • Sallie Krawcheck, former CEO of Merrill, CFO of citi, and founder of Ellevest, weighs in on and says Time's Up for Wall Street: "The wealth gap between men and women is as much a root cause of sexual harassment as it is a consequence."

  • Rebecca Traister on The Third Rail of Calling 'Sexism': "Among the many challenges facing female candidates in presidential politics is the fact that there remains absolutely no good way to describe the many challenges facing female candidates in presidential politics."

  • “The language of choice is used to suggest that these women have choices, while the language that should be there is they have no choice but to,” said Shani Orgad, of the London School of Economics & author of “Heading Home: Motherhood, Work and the Failed Promise of Equality.” Why Mothers' Choices about Work and Family Often Feel Like No Choice At All

  • We can't even get over how blithely Pete Buttigieg speaks about some of these issues and how starkly his comments contrast with the experience of women electeds. Would a 37-Year-Old Woman Be Where Pete Buttiegieg Is?

  • “As women get into more senior positions, it creates more space to hire more women and brings more equality into management decisions," Stevenson said. "It’s one of those things that’s self-reinforcing and keeps on going.” Women Outnumber Men in the American Workforce for Only the Second Time

As always, if you know someone who’d like this sort of thing in their inbox once a weekish, forward it their way! You can access it online (and subscribe) here. You can also follow WWAN's daily posts and commentary on Twitter here. Sometimes, that's the best way to find out what's happening. And we promise, we never pick fights.

 

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