Wyoming

 

District 12 Advocacy Information:
Wyoming

Like-minded organizations for Wyoming Zontians:

Wyoming Legislative websites:

The Wyoming Women’s Foundation Legislative Watch keeps you updated on the bills that impact the women of Wyoming during the 2016 legislative session.
We are excited to have sent out e-mail updates on a weekly basis during the 2016 legislative session. All bill information can be found here.

The 63rd Wyoming legislature has adjourned.

WYWF has been providing you information on bills that impact women and girls in Wyoming. We hope you will use the information to become informed and able to converse about these issues that impact women. Legislator contact information can be found here. Where the potential impact to women is not immediately apparent, we have provided a more in-depth explanation of the bill. If there is a bill you would like to see more explanation for, please let us know!
The final actions on all bills we followed are included below.

House Files

HB 0004 – Minimum Wage
Sponsored By: Byrd
An ACT relating to labor and employment; increasing minimum hourly wages; providing for a training wage; increasing minimum wage for tipped employees; requiring employers to pay underpaid tipped wages in a specified time; providing for treble damages, minimum recovery, court costs and attorney fees as specified; repealing an obsolete provision; and providing for an effective date. Bill Tracking Information
2/9/2016 H Failed Introduction.

What it means: This bill increases the minimum amount an employer can pay his or her employees from $5.15 to $9.50 per hour. For employees who have been employed for less than six months the bill sets a “training wage” rate of no less than $7.50 per hour. For tipped employees the bill would increase the minimum wage from $2.13 to $5.50 per hour. Furthermore, if the wages paid by the employer combined with the tips of the employee do not reach the minimum wage rate of non-tipped employees, the employer must pay the difference. This bill is relevant to Wyoming women who make up about half of the minimum wage workforce in the state. If passed, this bill will help women working minimum wage jobs pay for daily necessities and could reduce the income gap between men and women.
Source: http://nwlc.org/resources/women-and-minimum-wage-state-state/

HB 0005 – Prohibited question on job applications
Sponsored By: Representative(s) Byrd, Connolly, Pelkey and Schwartz and Senator(s) Emerich and Esquibel, F.
AN ACT relating to labor and employment; prohibiting an employer from requesting information about an applicant’s past criminal history on an employment application form; providing an exception; and providing for an effective date. Bill Tracking Information 2/9/2016 H Failed Introduction.

What it means: This statute makes it a discriminatory employment practice for employers to request information about an applicant’s past criminal history on a job application form. The caveat is that the employer may still request information about any criminal conviction that would automatically disqualify an applicant from holding the position for which they are applying. If passed, this bill would be impactful for women reentering the workforce after incarceration because it removes barriers to employment that are unrelated to their offense.

HB 0019 – Statewide student assessment
Sponsored By: Select Committee on Statewide Education
AN ACT relating to statewide student assessment; modifying the statewide student assessment requirements; requiring administration of the statewide student assessment in specified grades and subjects; requiring the statewide student assessment system to include interim assessments as specified; eliminating the requirement for school districts to administer common benchmark adaptive assessments; clarifying administration of the college entrance examination; replacing the job skills assessment with a career readiness examination as specified; eliminating administration of the college placement assessment; conforming phase I school accountability requirements; conforming phase II effective date; requiring reports; requiring studies; continuing operation of the advisory committee to the select committee on statewide education accountability; appropriating funds; and providing for effective dates. Bill Tracking Information 3/4/2016 PASSED as HEA 0055

HB0055 – Nurse Licensure Compact – 1
Sponsored By: Joint Labor, Health & Social Services Interim Committee
AN ACT relating to the Nurse Licensure Compact; entering into a compact with other states to allow nurses licensed in one compact state to exercise a multistate licensure privilege in other states that are a party to the compact; approving and specifying terms of the compact; making conforming amendments; and providing for an effective date. Bill Tracking Information 2/26/2016 PASSED as HEA 002

HB0056 – Advanced Practice Nurse Licensure Compact
Sponsored By: Joint Labor, Health & Social Services Interim Committee
AN ACT relating to the Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Compact; entering into a compact with other states to allow advanced practice registered nurses licensed in one compact state to exercise a multistate licensure privilege in other states that are party to the compact; approving and specifying terms of the compact; making conforming amendments; and providing for an effective date. Bill Tracking Information
2/26/2016 PASSED as HEA 003

HB0059 – Health care-statutory compliance
Sponsored By: Joint Labor, Health & Social Services Interim Committee
AN ACT relating to health care; amending the child health insurance program as specified; specifying that the department of health shall administer a state supplemental security income program; providing definitions; specifying where an application for medical assistance may be filed; specifying that the department of health shall administer claims against an estate for medical assistance provided through Medicaid; repealing provisions related to the qualification of parents and guardians for child health insurance program benefits; and providing for an effective date. Bill Tracking Information
2/26/2016 PASSED as HEA 004

HB0082 – Termination of employment wages-time limits
Sponsored By: Representative Larsen and Senator Burns
AN ACT relating to labor and employment; revising the time period for payment of wages upon an employee’s termination of employment as specified; and providing for an effective date. Bill Tracking Information
3/02/2016 S Did Not Consider for Introduction
What it Means: This bill forces employers to pay an employee, who recently quit or was discharged, no later than the employer’s next regularly scheduled payroll date or at a time specified in the employer/ employee contract. The employer however, can reduce the amount of the paycheck any amount that the employee owes the employer. If passed, this bill will help women who, for any multitude of reasons leave a job, but still need the money they earned to help provide for themselves and their families. If passed, the bill will allow women who feel the need to quit their current job, to do so without worrying that they will not receive the paycheck owed them in a timely manner.

HB0111 – Wage Transparency
Sponsored By: Representative(s) Throne, Byrd, Connolly, Esquibel, K., Hunt, Krone, Lindholm, Pelkey and Schwartz and Senator(s) Craft and Rothfuss
AN ACT relating to labor and employment; prohibiting an employer from barring an employee from disclosing wage information; prohibiting an employer from requiring an employee to waive wage disclosure rights; prohibiting an employer from discriminating against an employee as specified; specifying employer actions which constitute an unfair employment practice; and providing for an effective date. Bill Tracking Information 2/11/2016 H Failed Introduction.

What it Means: This statute makes it a discriminatory and unfair employment practice to prohibit employees from discussing, disclosing, or inquiring about their own or another employee’s wages. It also makes it a discriminatory and unfair employment practice to discharge or discipline in any manner an employee who discloses their wages, discuses the wages of other employees, or inquires about another employee’s wages. This bill is relevant to all women who make less money for doing the same job as their male counterparts. If passed this bill will help expose the wage gap between men and women.

HB114 – Public assistance-eligibility
Sponsored by: Representative Connolly
AN ACT relating to the personal opportunity with employment responsibilities (POWER) program; amending asset reporting requirements; amending allowable asset limitations; and providing for an effective date. Bill tracking information. 3/03/2016 PASSED as HEA 0043

HB0118 – Foster care and permanency-additional requirements
Sponsored By: Representative Throne and Senator Craft
AN ACT relating to children; specifying the reasonable and prudent parent standard and related provisions as required by federal law amendments relating to foster care and permanency; adding additional requirements to permanency hearings and reviews as required by federal law amendments relating to foster care and permanency; providing definitions; and providing for an effective date. Bill Tracking Information 3/03/2016 PASSED as HEA 0041

What it means:
This bill is an attempt to ensure that children who have been or are being separated from their parents end up in the best possible situation for that child. The bill repeatedly emphasizes the importance of placing a child in a place that will provide them with age-appropriate activities. Additionally, it emphasizes the desire to get the child with adoptive parents, a fit and willing relative, or a legal guardian. Furthermore, if the permanency plan for the child is something other than what was described above, a compelling reason must be provided for establishing another planned permanent living arrangement. Documents must also be provided of the ongoing and unsuccessful efforts to return the child home, place the child for adoption or with a legal guardian or a fit and willing relative, including evidence of efforts to use social media or other search technology to find biological family members of the child. In 2012, 78 children were adopted from foster care in WY and another 107 were still waiting to be adopted. This is important to the over one-hundred children in foster care and their families. It sets guidelines for what moms and potential adoptive moms need to do in order to retain or get custody of their children. It also ensures that children who are in foster care end up in the best possible care-giver situation possible.
Sources: https://www.nacac.org/policy/statefactsheets/Wyoming%20ADOPTION%20FACTS.pdf

Senate Files

SF 0001 General government appropriations
Sponsored by: Joint Appropriations Interim Committee
AN ACT to make appropriations for the biennium commencing July 1, 2016, and ending June 30, 2018; providing definitions; providing for appropriations and transfers of funds during that biennium and for the remainder of the current biennium as specified; providing for funding for carryover of certain funds beyond the biennium as specified; providing for employee positions as specified; providing for fees, duties, conditions and other requirements relating to appropriations; providing for position and other budgetary limitations; amending existing law by redirecting revenues for the period of the budget; providing for reports related to appropriations; and providing for effective dates. Bill tracking information.

What it means: This bill included an amendment (SF0001S3010) to fund Medicaid expansion. Expanding Medicaid would have provided health care for about 20,000 individuals in Wyoming who are not currently covered by a health insurance plan. These include working people who annually earn up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level (meaning a single person who makes less than $16,000 per year). Under expansion, the federal government covers 100 percent of Medicaid spending on health services for the newly-covered population in the first three years of implementation, and at least 90 percent in later years. This amendment failed.

SF 0003 – Permissive preference for veterans in private employment
Sponsored By: Joint Transportation, Highways & Military Affairs Interim Committee
AN ACT relating to veterans; providing for permissive private employer hiring preference for veterans and spouses of disabled and deceased veterans; and providing for an effective date. Bill Tracking Information
3/04/2016 PASSED as SEA 0063

What it means: This statute allows employers to grant preference to veterans, spouses of disabled veterans, or spouses of deceased veterans in employment and promotion opportunities. The statute defines a disabled veteran to be a veteran who has a compensable service connected permanent and total disability certified by the US veterans administration or by the retirement board of one of the branches of the armed forces. The statute defines a veteran to be a member of the United States military forces who has written evidence of separation from the military forces with an honorable discharge or the rendition of honorable discharge. The statute also specifies that this preferential treatment is not in violation of any local or state equal employment opportunity law. The bill is important to the over 50,000 veterans, and their families, who live in Wyoming. It provides those families with preferential treatment in not only obtaining a job but also in promotion opportunities after obtaining a job. If passed, this bill could benefit women who are married to a disabled veteran and need to earn even more for their family on account of their spouses disability. Additionally, it could benefit women who are veterans. Both situations may present a barrier to finding employment needed to earn a living wage, and this bill would reduce those barriers for women and their families.
Source: http://quickfacts.census.gov/qfd/states/56000.html

SF 0015 – Hathaway scholarship eligibility
Sponsored By: Select Committee on Statewide Education
AN ACT relating to the Hathaway Scholarship Program; replacing the American College Test requirements for scholarship eligibility; defining national percentile rank; defining minimum national percentile ranks for scholarship eligibility as specified; eliminating fully executed reporting requirements; specifying application; repealing a definition; and providing for an effective date. Bill Tracking Information
2/26/2016 PASSED as SEA 0016

SF 0020 – Sales and use tax remedy revisions
Sponsored By: Peterson
AN ACT relating to sales and use tax; providing that sales and use tax erroneously collected from a taxpayer shall not be refunded or credited to the vendor except as specified; repealing a conflicting provision; and providing for an effective date. Bill Tracking Information
2/29/2016 PASSED as SEA 0023

SF 0024 – Supplemental at-risk funding for early childhood education
Sponsored By: Joint Education Interim Committee
AN ACT relating to school finance; extending supplemental at-risk financial assistance to early childhood education programs; and providing for an effective date. Bill Tracking Information< 2/26/2016 H COW:Failed 21-35-4-0-0 SF 0025 – Hathaway scholarship program-award increase
Sponsored By: Joint Education Interim Committee
AN ACT relating to the Hathaway student scholarship program; increasing scholarship awards as specified; and providing for an effective date. Bill Tracking Information 2/19/2016 S No report prior to CoW Cutoff.

SF0050 – Sexual Assault Position of Authority
Sponsored By: Senator(s) Boner, Driskill and Wasserburger and Representative(s) Barlow, Cannady, Kirkbride and Lindholm
AN ACT relating to crimes and offenses; creating a new sexual assault offense; specifying elements of the offense; specifying penalties; modifying the definition of position of authority; and providing for an effective date. Bill Tracking Information 2/29/2016 H Did Not Consider in CoW

SF0078 – Office of consumer advocate-repeal date.
Sponsored by: Bebout
AN ACT relating to the public service commission; revising the repeal date for the Office of the Consumer Advocate; requiring a study; and providing for an effective date. Bill tracking information.
3/01/2016 S:Died in Committee Returned Bill Pursuant to SR 5-4

What it means: This bill would eliminate the office of the consumer advocate in 2017. The Office of Consumer Advocate is charged with representing the interests of Wyoming citizens and all classes of utility customers in matters involving public utilities. It is dedicated to ensuring that safe, adequate and reliable utility services are available to all Wyoming citizens at affordable rates. This service is important to low-income, working families to maintain access to affordable utilities.

SF0086 – Medical Assistance Program Design
Sponsored By: Senator(s) Scott and Nicholas, P. and Representative(s) Brown and Harvey
AN ACT relating to medical assistance; requiring the development of a design for a medical assistance program for people who cannot afford adequate health care; providing principles for the design as specified; requiring the management council to designate an entity to develop the design; requiring input from stakeholders; prohibiting the submission of a request for medicaid expansion to the federal government as specified; providing an appropriation; and providing for an effective date. Bill Tracking Information< 2/29/2016 H Did Not Consider in CoW What it Means: This bill requires the development of a design of a medical program that provides assistance to individuals who cannot afford health care. The bill explicitly prohibits the submission of a request for Medicaid expansion for at least two years. An amendment was proposed to remove this prohibiting language but the amendment failed. Medicaid expansion is not likely to pass in 2016, and this bill would prevent attempts to pass it in future legislative sessions while a study is conducted. This bill does not specify exactly what the program will look like; it just requires that management council develop a program and what it should include. There are many requirements, including: the design shall seek to provide better health status than those provided by Medicaid, help participants leave government assistance and become self-sufficient, incentivize individuals to improve their earnings, reduce costs of health care, reduce Medicaid cost while improving health outcomes from Medicaid, and move individuals from the Medicaid program to private insurance (including employer provided insurance). A $20,000 appropriation has been granted to begin implementation of what the proposed bill calls for. Individuals who oppose SF 86 compare this bill to the failed Healthy Frontiers program. The Healthy Frontiers program had the intent to provide healthcare coverage to low income individuals who could not afford their own healthcare. Healthy Frontiers, like SF 86, was implemented as an alternative to medicaid expansion. Funding for Healthy Frontiers was taken away in 2012. Adversaries to SF 86 argue that the $20,000 appropriation in the bill does not reflect the true amount of how much money will actually be required in the implementation of SF 86. For example, the Healthy Frontiers program received a $1million appropriation, and as stated above, that program no longer exists. Further, opponents argue that it is irresponsible to be spending money on research similar to that which was done for Healthy Frontiers, and to implement a program similar to one that has failed in the past. Additionally, opponents to SF 86 argue that the research that needs to be done to implement SF 86 has already been done, and is reflected in a report titled "Covering Wyoming's Uninsured." It is important to note that this study was done thirteen years ago and covers data that only reaches through 2003. The report indicates that for the years 2000-2002, Wyoming was ranked eleventh highest among the states in percent of people without health insurance at 16.4%. For the years 2001-2003, Wyoming was ranked thirteenth highest among the state in percent of people without health insurance at 16.5%. Proponents of SF 86 on the other hand, promote the bill as a positive alternative to medicaid expansion. Senate Vice President Drew Perkins opposes expansion, at least in part, because he does not know if the Affordable Care Act will be repealed, and consequently take away federal funding for medicaid expansion. One strong argument for why medicaid expansion is a good thing is that it will bring in federal money to Wyoming at a time when Wyoming is in an economic downturn. The counter argument to this, and the position Senator Perkins took above, is that Wyoming cannot rely on federal money coming in for medicaid expansion because the status of the Affordable Care Act (which authorizes the distribution of federal funds) is still too shaky. Additionally, individuals opposing medicaid expansion argue that expansion will cost the state more money in the long run, and the short term benefit of federal funding is not worth the long term expense. Governor Mead supported Medicaid expansion in 2016 and addressed some of these concerns. In a press release on February 18 he stated, "I opposed the Affordable Care Act and sued to stop it. However, we lost the legal and political battles and now we must deal with that fact. Wyoming receives approximately $2.3 billion in federal money each year. Medicaid expansion would add to that total. I support including language that protects the state should the federal government renege on their financial promise. We lose about $310,000 every day that could be going to help our citizens." While this bill could impact the same population that would benefit from Medicaid expansion, it would take longer for those affected to receive healthcare assistance due to the state having to study and design a program over at least two years' time. Low-income working women would benefit from the more immediate and certain access to health insurance that Medicaid expansion would provide and that this bill would prevent.