A long-time, highly influential member of the Wyoming Legislature has announced his retirement at the end of his current term at the end of this year..

Republican Senator Tony Ross of Cheyenne is currently co-chair of the legislature's Joint Appropriations Committee and has previously served as Senate President [2013-2014], Senate Majority Floor Leader [2011-2012] and Senate Vice President [2009-2010].

Ross has been a member of the Senate since 2005 and served in the state House from 1995 to 2004. He said Wednesday that he needs to devote more time to his law practice, which he said has suffered because of all of the time he has had to put into legislative work.

Ross said he has never approached his office on a partisan basis, but rather has always worked for the good of the state as a whole. He noted that has often meant co-sponsoring bills with Democratic lawmakers, which he never hesitated to do. Ross also noted that he went against most other Republican lawmakers in the recent budget session in supporting expansion of the Medicaid program.

He said he was disappointed that the legislature voted against Medicaid expansion in view of the fact that it would have added $33 million to state coffers at a time when Wyoming faces major budget challenges.

Senator Ross also noted that since it was  proposed as a budget item, rather than a state law, it would have automatically expired at the end of the upcoming biennium and state lawmakers could have decided again in two years whether to continue expansion or not, as opposed to having to repeal an existing state law.

Ross said Wednesday that he has no plans to run for office again, although he added he "wouldn't rule it out."