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Legislative Report: Tough Issues [AUDIO]

The Wyoming Legislature begins to tackle some tough issues. Amy Richards with Tuesday’s Legislative Report.

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A bill which would specify that Wyoming won’t recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states is on its way to the full House after passing out of committee. House Bill 74 sponsor, Rep. Owen Peterson explains.

Rep. Owen Peterson:

“So what this bill is doing is filling the void that’s there. It clarifies that he marriage between a man and a woman is still standing. However, the marriages from outside Wyoming that come into the state will only be recognized if they, likewise, are only between a man and a woman.”

Peterson says he expects the bill will be heard in the full House later this week.

The house passed a bill on a 52 – 7 vote today (Tuesday) that that makes foreign language an optional requirement in the Hathaway Scholarship program. The bill would allow high school students to substitute career-vocational education or fine and performing arts courses for two years’ worth of foreign language to earn scholarship money. Casper Rep. Steve Harshman says he has some concerns about the bill.

Rep. Steve Harshman:

“You know, over half the states have these similar, what are called merit scholarships. It’s supposed to be based on really working hard and achieving, not so much God-given intellect, but working hard and achieving good grades. And state after state, politicians just can’t resist the urge to make it open to more people, make it easier, make it broader, and pretty soon it becomes an entitlement.”

The bill was amended Monday to add even more options, including health and safety courses, applied technology courses such as computer applications, and physical education. But lawmakers voted to delete those changes (today) Tuesday after some lawmakers expressed concern that the Senate would reject the bill. The bill now moves on to the Senate for debate.

The House Judiciary Committee voted 5-4 on Monday evening in favor of a bill that would not allow Wyoming drivers suspected of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, to refuse a blood test. The bill’s Sponsor Rep. Keith Gingery says many drivers who have been cited previously for DUI will refuse to take a test even though the refusal can result in a license suspension.

Rep. Keith Gingery:

“The same concept, we do this with vehicular homicide; we take the blood of that individual after the homicide, in a car accident. This is the only crime that we are allowing an exception for.”

Gingery says the close vote means he has more work to do when the bill goes to the full House.

The House and Senate passed a joint rule that establishes a process for any possible ethics complaints. Senate Majority Leader Sen. Tony Ross says the rule involves a three tiered process.

Sen. Tony Ross:

“The initial phase, of course, is to go to the speaker and the leadership to determine if it’s frivolous or not, then they determine that maybe it’s not frivolous. Then it may, could go to a subcommittee, which is comprised of those members of management council in each respective house, depending on whether it’s a House or Senate claim, or complaint, and they would determine if there’s probable cause to move forward and if so there would be a hearing process.”

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

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