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And, that's a wrap.

They finished last night. At like a million o'clock.


And, here's the thing: The way they wrapped up reminded us of T.S. Eliot's poem "The Hollow Men." You know the poem, it is the one that starts like this:


We are the hollow men We are the stuffed men Leaning together Headpiece filled with straw. Alas! Our dried voices, when  We whisper together Are quiet and meaningless

And ends like this:


This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but with a whimper.

The Senate decided not to reach a compromise so they adjourned. And, in doing so, killed what is known as the CapCon bill--the bill that funds all the capital construction in the state. You know, buildings, educational facilities, things like that. Nick Reynolds probably put it best:


Anyway, as is our wont, we're here to give a final update on the stats of the session and the bills that we followed. So, here's your intel:


  • The Wyoming Legislature convened for 24 days this year.

  • Lawmakers introduced 398 bills, a record for a Budget Session.

  • They passed 167 into law.


BILLS: House

HB0049 “Retirement savings information – workforce services”

  • Why it matters for women: Men have, on average, three times as many resources available for retirement as women making women more likely to age into poverty. Women comprise the majority of Wyoming's citizens over the age of 70.

  • What happened: Failed.


HB0075 “Medicaid expansion – authorization”

HJ0007 “Medicaid coverage – eligible low income adults”

  • Why it matters for women: Healthcare is a key to economic self-sufficiency. Women in Wyoming are more likely to be working in jobs that don’t offer health insurance for wages that preclude them being able to purchase it. New moms fare better in states that have expanded Medicaid, get better postpartum care, have decreased mortality and morbidity, and healthier infants.

  • What happened: Failed. Also failed. And two amendments failed. (Officially: Epic fail. p.s. - This needs to be an election issue. Do not let this go.)


HB0123 “Pharmacists prescribing contraceptives”

  • Why it matters for women: The bill would have enabled pharmacists to prescribe birth control under certain circumstances thereby lowering the barriers to access to birth control. For women in the most rural parts of our state who have limited access to doctors, it would have improved their access to care.

  • What happened: Failed.


HB0144 “Minimum wage”

  • Why it matters for women: 75 percent of Wyoming’s minimum wage workers in Wyoming are women. According to the newly released Self-Sufficiency Standard from the Wyoming Women’s Foundation, there is no county Wyoming where either state minimum wage ($5.15) or Federal minimum wage ($7.25) can enable a woman to achieve self-sufficiency.

  • What happened: Not considered.


HB0188 “Wage transparency”

  • Why it matters for women: Open discussion of salaries among peers and co-workers, experts say, is a powerful tool to fight pay inequity. Wage transparency has proven benefits for both employers and employees, but it is especially important for women and is a policy tool for closing the gender wage gap.

  • What happed: Failed.


BILLS: Senate

SF0054 “Surplus food programs”

  • Why it matters for women: Single moms with pre-school age children are the most likely to face food insecurity.

  • What happened: Failed.


SF0086 “Essential health product dignity act”

  • Why it matters for women: Wyoming is one of 37 states with a tax on tampons and feminine hygiene products along with the tax on diapers and adult incontinence supplies. The fiscal note demonstrated that women can expect to pay approximately $900,000 in taxes in 2020 on period products.

  • What happened: Failed.


Amendments

Voter ID (amendments)

  • Why it matters for women: The majority of women who marry still change their names (or make name changes if they divorce). Voter ID bills increase the likelihood that women might be in the midst of document transitions when they show up to vote. This could result in being turned away at the polls.

  • What happened: Failed. (That's a good thing in this case.)


Childcare (amendment)

  • Why it matters for women: In all, there are seven parents of young children out of 90 Legislators. Five of those households are headed by male Legislators, two by female Legislators. Childcare is most often seen as a policy that benefits “moms” and “women” even though research proves it is also a gamechanger for dads, kids, and employers. The US Chamber of Commerce issued a report describing childcare’s value as “a powerful two-generation approach to building the human capital that a prosperous and sustainable America requires.”

  • What happened: Failed.


Women's Council and WBC Report

  • Why it matters for women: Because so few policies and bills even discussed women in Wyoming and even fewer of those advanced, adding a statutory requirement for the Wyoming Council for Women to provide the Joint Minerals, Business & Economic Development Committee with an update on women in Wyoming might be the only voice women get in the interim.

  • What happened: Passed.


So, you can see from the summary that it didn't go well. There was a joke by the end of the session that Jen's job title was not "legislative liaison" or "government affairs director" or even "lobbyist." She was "bearer of bad news" and "highlighter of gross misogyny." (Look for the latter on a t-shirt. Soon.)


We're heading into the weekend to regroup and read. (We're thinking that Kate Manne's "Down Girl: The Logic of Misogyny" might be in order.)


We'll be back next week with a policy plan, plus a look at coronavirus through a gender lens. In the meantime, practice social distancing and wash your hands.

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