A second bill heads to the Governor's desk. The Senate has passed House Bill 223 on a final vote 23-7. This fast-track bill allows searches for University of Wyoming and state community college presidents to be closed to the public. It goes to the Governor.
State District Judge Jeffery Donnell last month ordered the UW trustees to release the names of the finalists for the job of President of the University, but if the Governor were to sign 223, the effect would nullify the judge's decision. Jim Angell of the Wyoming Press Association says the trustees' promise to the candidates to keep the search secret should never have been made.
The House passes on a final vote the ag gag bill. House Bill 126 would criminalize undercover investigations of Wyoming factory farms. This comes after Wyoming law enforcement charged nine factory farm workers with animal cruelty following an undercover investigation at a pig farm in Wheatland last spring. There are already civil penalties for malicious intent, but it could be argued that this bill tends to criminalize free speech. That may be why, according to Governor Mead, that if 126 reaches his desk. He'll have the attorney general look at the legality of the bill before he takes action on it.
One measure which has slipped under the radar screen is House Bill 79. It passed the House and is waiting to be debated in the Senate. The bill amends the definition of unpaid wages to exclude accrued vacation. Just the opposite of what the law is now. If this bill were to become law, if you're fired or retire or move on to another job, you're employer does not have to pay you for any unused vacation time. That policy would have to be in writing.
Representative Ken Esquibel says the fear is we could lose some good state workers under this legislation. Stubson says employers have written agreements on take it or lose it vacation which the Wyoming Department of Workforce Services says are not enforceable. He says the only option for employers under existing law is to reduce the amount of paid vacation.
Both houses take up the $147 million supplemental budget on a second vote Wednesday and a final reading on Friday. Expect scores of amendments.