Discussion on the Rated Bills, 2007 General Session

Last revised 7 June 2007

Introduction

In the typical liberty index created by other individuals and organizations, there is usually a discussion of each bill selected for rating - why it was chosen, how it affected liberty, how the bill fared in the legislative process. The large number of bills selected in the Wyoming Liberty Index makes that approach untenable (at least until further notice).

This year, the "bills of note" are for the most part selected simply from those called "best of session" or "worst of session" by Paul Bonneau in his bill rating comments; an edited version of those comments are reproduced here. This method, while not as satisfactory as that used in some earlier sessions, certainly saves time and works well enough.

Bills of note

HB73 (Not passed.) Candidate for dumbest bill of the session. Sales tax holiday for the back-to-school crowd shopping for school supplies. A nightmare for retailers. Violates any concept of simplicity and uniformity of the tax code. The only thing that saves it from being a -2 is that it *is* a tax cut. How about instead, cutting the state sales tax back to 3% for every day in the year, like it was in the early '90's when the (Republican) legislature passed a "temporary" tax hike?

HB80 (Not passed.) Minimum wage hike. It's hard to imagine all the levels this bill tramples freedom on, not to mention being mean-spirited and economically unsound. A bill rife with unintended consequences, which should by now be obvious to any legislator with a iota of curiosity. Usually these are passed as a sop to labor unions and of course to harvest campaign funds from them, although in the end even they suffer as jobs go overseas. A candidate for the worst bill of the session; see also SF122 (not passed).

HB93 (Signed into law.) Makes permanent the former temporary elimination of sales tax on food. While this bill is inferior to a broad-based rate reduction, the subtraction of $48 million from state revenue (now left in taxpayer pockets) far outweighs any deficiencies. One of the best bills of the session; see also HB154.

HB95 (Signed into law.) The state modifies one of last year's worst bills (the so-called quality child care program, an oxymoron when government is doing it) and spends $15 million ($6 million by some accounts - it's sometimes hard to keep up with changes) more per year on it. Again, one of this year's worst bills. When government is getting into socialist programs like child care, you know your kid is in danger.

HB97 (Signed into law.) This takes one of the worst bills of last year, the Hathaway subsidy, and (apparently) tightens up significantly on the requirements to qualify for it (previously being mere graduation). One would think this would significantly reduce the number of people on this subsidy, but strangely, the fiscal note said there would be no fiscal effect. I will bet on reducing the number and so give this a net positive rating.

HB99 (Signed into law.) Hathaway subsidy is extended to graduate degrees. I wonder how minimum wage workers are going to enjoy supporting the lengthy educations of people going into professional work? Candidate for worst bill of session.

HB108 (Not passed.) Property tax cut from 9.5% of value to 8.25% of value, local governments being reimbured from the bloated state government. Now this is the way tax cuts *should* be done - across the board and simple, with no social engineering. The only folks who lose out on this one are mines and industrial properties, but owners of those properties still win at the residendial level. A candidate for the best bill in the session.

HB124 (Signed into law.) Eminent domain protections. The fiscal note made an absurd estimate of $37 million per year cost to the state, to implement this bill, even suggesting a $1000 fee for every entry onto the land (nowhere in the bill that I can tell). One of the best bills of the session; see also SF174 (not passed).

HB129 (Not passed.) An extension of school compulsory attendance, from 16 year olds to 18 year olds, albeit with a modest escape clause. A good candidate for worst bill of the session, as it tramples so many peoples' freedom. Even homeschoolers are affected by it. The teacher's union probably loves it though.

HB138 (Signed into law.) An attempt to recreate Lyndon Johnson's "Great Society" in Wyoming, complete with crime- and filth-infested public housing projects. OK, maybe this program stops a few steps short of that, but why even start down that road (government programs never know when to stop). The market is pre-eminently suited to fixing this "problem", so why does the state need to get into it? (Other than the usual corruption and rent-seeking that is.) Yes, the Wyoming Business Council is involved. Includes $31 in appropriations, and a mind-boggling $900k per year to "administrate". One of the worst bills of the session.

HB141 (Not passed.) Smoking in public places illegal. The Nanny State marches on, with the aid of junk science. One of the worst bills of the session.

HB203 (Not passed.) Gatsos! A concept to be imported from England to Wyoming, ugh! Traffic cameras and speeding citations sent conveniently to your door, courtesy of Big Brother. Any freedom-loving person has a moral obligation to shoot these damn things on sight. One of the worst bills of the session, and the legislators sponsoring it ought to be flogged. Even those faint-hearted lovers of freedom – the English – cannot stand these things; there is a web site showing torched or otherwise destroyed Gatsos, and encouraging more of the same.

HB207 (Not passed.) The government proposes to tell you who you can rent your home to. It is hard to enumerate all the attacks on freedom this bill makes – freedom of association, free speech, free enterprise... you name it, it's here. A candidate for worst bill of the session.

HB238 (Not passed.) Counties or cities can prohibit smoking in public places. Another candidate for worst bill of the session. See also HB141. Since this did not pass, does that mean Laramie's ban is illegal?

HB273 (Not passed.) Driver's license applicants have to be registered with the selective service system. Since selective service (the draft) is a euphemism for slavery, usually in the service of imperial ambitions, it's pretty clear this bill has nothing to do with freedom. The selective service should be abolished. One of the worst bills of the session.

HB289 (Not passed.) Sueing the federal government. Any such bill is bound to have its "mixed-bag" aspect (e.g. its cost, although the $250k appropriation was deleted from the bill), but it is so important to freedom that the states begin to exercise some autonomy that this bill has to earn a +2. One of the best bills of the session.

HB295 (Not passed.) Another tax hike on tobacco products, from 20% to 30%. Nothing like picking on an addicted minority! I guess the state figures they don't have enough money yet, or maybe they want to encourage unlawful behavior like smuggling. Alleged to suck another $1.3 million per year from taxpayers. The tax on tobacco, if any, should be the same as the general sales tax. A candidate for worst bill of the session.

HB320 (Not passed.) Government storage of medical health records? No thanks! There goes more of our privacy. Includes a $4 million appropriation. One of the worst bills of the session.

HB329 (Signed into law.) The local option sales tax for general purposes (e.g. government waste and corruption) is raised from 1% to 2% max. And it was signed into law! Almost certainly the worst bill of the session. This would have been neutral or even positive if a corresponding 1% drop in the state tax level had been passed, as local control is preferable to state control of such things, but that was not the case. What are "conservative" Republicans good for anyway?

HJ6 (Not passed.) NAIS – National Animal Identification System – is extremely anti-freedom, thus this bill opting out of it is one of the best of the session.

HJ8 (Not passed.) Real ID repeal (nullification). Perhaps the best bill of the session.

SF43 (Not passed.) The permanent mineral trust fund is not so permanent or trustworthy any more. It is to be "invested" in the state's highways, and to be paid off by the taxpayers! Unless I'm mistaken, one of the worst bills of the session.

SF52 (Not passed.) Allows municipalities and counties to regulate outdoor lighting. Some pro-freedom folks have complained about such laws, but personally I am irritated by the notion that a neighbor can send unwelcome amounts of light onto my property at night. To me it is a form of trespass. Although, cities are among the worst offenders!

SF98 (Not passed.) Extending the schooling into adult years, which will actually delay employability of those in the program. The best way to get into the workforce is to get a job and start at the bottom. Government does not help anyone in this respect, other than the government employees running the program. Minus 2 due to new socialist program and $600k appropriation.

SF126 (Signed into law.) An unconstitutional pilot program in economic fascism becomes entrenched ("Wyoming Main Street" program). Remember the prohibition on "internal improvements", legislators? One of the worst bills of the session.

SF128 (Not passed.) Ugh! Some slimy accounting tactics, trying to tap into the supposedly inviolate PMTF to fund government (socialist) health care. Huge amounts of dollars involved. For several reasons, one of the worst bills of the session.

Conspicuous by its absence...

Last year's "Alaska Carry" bill, which would bring the statutes more in line with the bill of rights (not requiring government permission to protect oneself and one's family with a firearm) was not introduced this year. Thus one of the most egregious anti-freedom concepts remains in place.