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Legislative Report: Constitutional Amendments [AUDIO]

Lawmakers wrestled with constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriages and keeping the federal health care mandate out of Wyoming. Amy Richards with Wednesday’s Legislative Report:

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This Legislative Report is brought to you by Hilltop National Bank.

The Senate Judiciary Committee took testimony this morning (Wednesday) on a proposed constitutional amendment that would specify that the state won’t recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. Supporters say Wyoming voters want a chance to vote on the issue. Opponents say it amounts to government discrimination against gays and lesbians.

The committee took no action on the bill, and will continue to take testimony on Friday.

The Judiciary Committee passed a joint resolution today (Wednesday) which would prevent the “federal encroachment on health care” in Wyoming. Committee Chairman Sen. Drew Perkins says they took issues from two joint resolutions on the issue, and put them into one bill.

Sen. Drew Perkins:

“We’re trying to recognize, and preserve, first of all, make a declaration, that individuals have a right to choose their own health care. And also have the right to participate or not participate in health care, as they deem appropriate for themselves. In doing that, a couple things we were concerned about is one, that health care needs to be lawful health care. The other one is that we need to have some regulation in the state regarding licensing of doctors, what health care procedures might be harmful, things like that, so we wanted to make sure those things are in there, as well.”

The new bill will now move on to the full Senate.

In the House.

The full House will consider a bill that would raise the state’s gas tax by ten cents per gallon over three years. HB-22 passed out of committee late Tuesday on a 6-3 vote. Committee Chairwoman Rep. Lorraine Quarberg (R-HD 28) says she doesn’t support the bill.

Rep. Lorraine Quarberg:

“I just believe right now that we have adequate revenue available on a state level to continue to provide the additional supplemental funding that the highway department needs to continue to make the repairs that they would like to make. So obviously I was not … obviously I was a no vote. I do not want to raise fuel taxes on the citizens of Wyoming. I don’t think it’s necessary at this time to do that.”

Cheyenne Rep. Amy Edmonds is serving her first term on the Joint Appropriations Committee. Edmonds says it’s a lot of work.

Rep. Amy Edmonds, a lot of work:

“We are going basically morning, noon and night because we are taking testimony we didn’t take normally in December because of the incoming new governor.”

Edmonds says she is pleased to see state agencies exercising fiscal restraint.

Rep. Edmonds, fiscal restraint:

“They’re coming with things they think that they need. Of course, that will be a decision for the Legislature will make, ultimately. I appreciate the level of discussion on every budget. I think we’ve … I’ve really seen a good level of discussion about each item.”

Freshman lawmaker Rep Matt Greene (R-Laramie) says his priorities are the same now as when he ran for office.

Rep. Matt Greene:

“There is no change to the priorities, as when we knocked on 2000 doors. The priorities were job creation, getting higher paying jobs to Laramie, the state of Wyoming, making sure we balance business development with energy development, with the environment, of course improving education. We need to intelligently implement wind energy development.”

With the Legislative Report, I’m Amy Richards for K2 Radio news.

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