Wyoming Liberty Index, 2016 Budget Session, 63rd Legislature

Welcome to the 2016 Wyoming Liberty Index.

The Bills

The 2016 Wyoming Liberty Index rates all bills in the House and Senate from the 2016 Budget Session, 63rd Legislature, on whether they support or inhibit liberty.

Legislators voted on 143 third readings in the House and 138 in the Senate. Out of 279 bills introduced, the Liberty Index showed that 35 liberty-supporting bills (12.5%) passed and 61 (21.9%) failed. Additionally, 45 liberty-inhibiting bills (16.1%) passed while 57 (20.4%) failed. This leaves 81 bills either rated neutral or not rated (29.0%).

In 2014, many legislators and observers complained that there were far too many bills introduced for a budget session. In 2014, we did indeed find a big increase, 25%, over 2012.

Because the 2015 session is a general session, we compare the 2016 budget session with the last budget session, 2014. For comparison, we include 2012.

  2012 2014 2016 Increase
2014 to 2016
Percentage increase
2014 to 2016
House Bill 122 179 159 -20 -11.17%
House Joint Resolution 13 5 11 6 120.00%
Senate File 107 120 105 -15 -12.50%
Senate Joint Resolution 2 2 4 2 100.00%
Total 244 306 279 -27 -8.82%

From 2014 to 2016 we find a decrease of 27 bills, or about 9%. A decrease in bills is generally a good thing. The legislature is not back to the level of 2012, though.

We note that Senate resolutions doubled! Taken out of context, that could be a frightening figure! This figure should point out the folly of doing statistical analyses on very small sample sizes. People analyzing data about Wyoming's population should keep this in mind.

This year, 119 bills out of 279, or 43%, made it into law.

Some good liberty bills that passed:

The liberty supporting bills that failed include:

Only six bills were marked as "Extremely Bad", the worst rating possible. (Our raters may be getting mellow.) Of those only three passed. There were plenty of "Very Bad" bills as well. The most liberty inhibiting bills that passed include:

The liberty inhibiting bills that failed include:

There is detailed information on, and the final status of, each bill. The detailed information includes comments from the raters on why they rated the bills as they did.

The Legislators

In addition, the voting pattern of each legislator was automatically calculated and given a liberty score. The higher the score, the better the legislator's agreement with the raters. A high score simply reflects a high level of aye votes on liberty-supporting bills and nay votes on liberty-inhibiting bills. Scores are only indicators of ordering, and arithmetic manipulations are meaningless. The percentage is simply out of the range from highest score (100%) to lowest (0%). Because the two houses vote on different bills, scores in the two houses are not comparable.

The Top Dozen liberty-supporting members in the House were (in order) Representatives Kendell Kroeker; Marti Halverson; Tom Reeder; David Miller; Allen Jaggi and Robert McKim (tied for 5); Scott Clem and Cheri Steinmetz (tied for 7); Mark Baker; Gerald Gay and Mark Jennings (tied for 10); and finally, Harlan Edmonds, Roy Edwards, and Tyler Lindholm (all three tied for 12). "Most Liberty-Friendly Member of the House for 2016" goes to Kendell Kroeker once again. Our top dozen is actually a top 14 because of the three way tie for 12th place.

The House Needs Improvement Club consists of those members who most consistently voted to limit freedom. They are (in order from least bad to worst) Representatives John Eklund and John Freeman (tied for 49); Mary Throne; Cathy Connolly, Ken Esquibel and Michael Madden (tied for 52); Kermit Brown; Elaine Harvey; Andy Schwartz; Eric Barlow; Dan Kirkbride; Dan Zwonitzer; and Bob Nicholas. Long-time Republican Bob Nicholas has earned the title of "Most Liberty-Hostile Member of the House for 2016". Last year's "winner", JoAnn Dayton has almost swapped places with Bob Nicholas.

The top performing House Democrat is Charles Pelkey, tied with Republican Fred Baldwin for 31st. The top performing Republican is Kendell Kroeker.

The Top Half-Dozen liberty-supporting members in the Senate were (in order) Senators Cale Case, "Dr. No", a tie between Curt Meier and Chris Rothfuss, Drew Perkins, and Bernadine Craft. For as long as we have been rating the Senate, Senator Cale Case has come out on top by a wide margin, which feat he repeated this year. Senator Case has once again earned the title of the "Most Liberty-Friendly Member of the Senate for 2016". And we note a rare event, two Democrats among the top six! And one of those, Senator Rothfuss, was last year's "Most Liberty Hostile" Senator.

The Senate Needs Improvement Club are those members who most consistently voted to limit freedom. They are (in order from least bad to worst) a three way tie between Senators Brian Boner, Stan Cooper, and Ogden Driskill, followed by Senators Ray Peterson, Charles Scott, Gerald Geis, and Jim Anderson. Senator Anderson has earned the title of "Most Liberty-Hostile Member of the Senate for 2016". All are Republicans.

Among Senate Democrats, Senator Chris Rothfuss did best, tieing for third place. Cale Case, as usual, won the top Republican performer title.

The Senate provide two surprises. First is two Democrats among the six top Senators. Both are in leadership, contributing to a Senate in which the Democrat leadership outranks the Republican.

There is detailed information on each legislator.

The 2016 Wyoming House Leadership

Rosie Berger House Majority Floor Leader3535 
Kermit Brown Speaker of the House5555 
James Byrd House Minority Caucus Chairman44 44
Ken Esquibel House Minority Whip52 52
Hans Hunt House Majority Whip1717 
Timothy Stubson House Speaker Pro Tempore3333 
Mary Throne House Minority Floor Leader51 51
Average 413549

The 2016 Wyoming House Index

This table shows the weighted liberty score and weighted liberty percentage for each representative.

NameParDistDistrict LocationWeighted ScoreWeighted PercentWeighted Rank
Kendell KroekerR35Natrona56100.0%1
Marti HalversonR22Lincoln/Sublette/Teton5396.6%2
Tom ReederR58Natrona4890.8%3
David MillerR55Fremont4789.7%4
Allen JaggiR19Uinta3980.5%5
Robert McKimR21Lincoln3980.5%5
Scott ClemR31Campbell3677.0%7
Cheri SteinmetzR5Goshen3677.0%7
Mark BakerR48Sweetwater3474.7%9
Gerald GayR36Natrona3373.6%10
Mark JenningsR30Sheridan3373.6%10
Harlan EdmondsR12Laramie3171.3%12
Roy EdwardsR53Campbell3171.3%12
Tyler LindholmR1Crook/Weston3171.3%12
Dan LaursenR25Park3070.1%15
Jim BlackburnR42Laramie2564.4%16
Mike GreearR27Big Horn/Washakie2058.6%17
Hans HuntR2Niobrara/Weston/Goshen2058.6%17
Garry PiiparinenR49Uinta2058.6%17
Jim AllenR33Fremont1350.6%20
Bunky LoucksR59Natrona1350.6%20
Steve HarshmanR37Natrona1047.1%22
Donald Burkhart, JrR15Carbon946.0%23
Nathan WintersR28Big Horn/Hot Springs/Fremont/Park946.0%23
"Dr. No"743.7%25
David NorthrupR50Park642.5%26
David ZwonitzerR9Laramie541.4%27
Norine KasperikR32Campbell339.1%28
Thomas LockhartR57Natrona237.9%29
Albert SommersR20Sublette136.8%30
Fred BaldwinR18Lincoln/Sweetwater/Uinta035.6%31
Charles PelkeyD45Albany035.6%31
Bill PownallR52Campbell-134.5%33
Tim StubsonR56Natrona-134.5%33
Rosie BergerR51Sheridan-233.3%35
Lloyd LarsenR54Fremont-233.3%35
Ruth PetroffR16Teton-233.3%35
Tom WaltersR38Natrona-233.3%35
Stan BlakeD39Sweetwater-332.2%39
Jerry PaxtonR47Carbon/Albany/Sweetwater-332.2%39
Sue WilsonR7Laramie-332.2%39
Richard CannadyR6Converse-431.0%42
Glenn MonizR46Albany-431.0%42
James ByrdD44Laramie-529.9%44
Rita CampbellR34Fremont-727.6%45
Mark KinnerR29Sheridan-727.6%45
Samuel KroneR24Park-826.4%47
JoAnn DaytonD17Sweetwater-1024.1%48
John EklundR10Laramie/Goshen-1123.0%49
John FreemanD60Sweetwater-1123.0%49
Mary ThroneD11Laramie-1221.8%51
Cathy ConnollyD13Albany-1320.7%52
Ken EsquibelD41Laramie-1320.7%52
Michael MaddenR40Johnson/Sheridan-1320.7%52
Kermit BrownR14Albany-1419.5%55
Elaine HarveyR26Big Horn/Park-1518.4%56
Andy SchwartzD23Teton-1518.4%56
Eric BarlowR3Campbell/Converse-1617.2%58
Dan KirkbrideR4Platte/Converse-1814.9%59
Dan ZwonitzerR43Laramie-265.7%60
Bob NicholasR8Laramie-310.0%61

The 2016 Wyoming Senate Leadership

Eli Bebout Senate Majority Floor Leader1717 
Bernadine Craft Senate Minority Whip6 6
John Hastert Senate Minority Caucus Chairman7 7
Phil Nicholas President of the Senate2121 
Drew Perkins Senate Vice President55 
Christopher Rothfuss Senate Minority Floor Leader3 3
Average 10145

The 2016 Wyoming Senate Index

This table shows the weighted liberty score and weighted liberty percentage for each senator.

NameParDistDistrict LocationWeighted ScoreWeighted PercentWeighted Rank
Cale CaseR25Fremont38100.0%1
"Dr. No"2685.0%2
Curt MeierR3Goshen/Niobrara/Weston457.5%3
Chris RothfussD9Albany457.5%3
Drew PerkinsR29Natrona-151.3%5
Bernadine CraftD12Sweetwater-546.3%6
John HastertD13Sweetwater-941.3%7
Michael Von FlaternR24Campbell-941.3%7
Fred EmerichR5Laramie-1237.5%9
Dave KinskeyR22Sheridan/Johnson-1533.8%10
Tony RossR4Laramie-1533.8%10
Bruce BurnsR21Sheridan-1731.3%12
Jeff WasserburgerR23Campbell/Converse-1928.8%13
Larry HicksR11Albany/Carbon/Sweetwater-2027.5%14
Stephan PappasR7Laramie-2225.0%15
Dan DockstaderR16Lincoln/Sublette/Teton-2323.8%16
Eli BeboutR26Fremont-2422.5%17
Henry H.R. "Hank" CoeR18Park-2422.5%17
Wayne JohnsonR6Laramie/Goshen-2521.3%19
Bill LandenR27Natrona-2521.3%19
Phil NicholasR10Albany-2620.0%21
Leland ChristensenR17Teton-2718.8%22
Paul BarnardR15Uinta-2916.3%23
Floyd EsquibelD8Laramie-3015.0%24
Brian BonerR2Converse/Platte-3113.8%25
Stan CooperR14Lincoln/Sublette/Sweetwater/Uinta-3113.8%25
Ogden DriskillR1Crook/Campbell/Weston-3113.8%25
R. Ray PetersonR19Big Horn/Park-3212.5%28
Charles ScottR30Natrona-3311.3%29
Gerald GeisR20Big Horn/Fremont/Hot Springs/Park/Washakie-3410.0%30
Jim L. Anderson (SD28)R28Natrona-420.0%31

Excused, Absent and Conflicts

Since 2013, we have provided Excused, Absent and Conflict totals for each member on the Results tab of the spreadsheet. These are totals of third reading votes (not days) for which the member was excused, absent or had a conflict.

The House, with 116 excused votes, outstrips the Senate, with 10. When you factor in the larger size of the House, the Senate looks even better. Leading the House is Gerald Gay, with 41 excused absences due to health problems. Wayne Johnson and Cale Case lead the Senate, with four excused absences each.

Being a leader in this field is not necessarily a bad thing. Since a failure to vote is often equivalent to a no vote, these absences may have improved these legislators' scores.

More Information

The 2016 Index background information is available:

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