Tagwyoming

Stories about Wyoming

Redistricting timeline update: West Virginia calls special session, Wyoming committee agrees on timeline

Here’s a summary of recent redistricting updates from West Virginia and Wyoming.

West Virginia: On Oct. 7, 2021, West Virginia Governor Jim Justice (R) called for a special session starting Oct. 11 for the legislature to finish the redistricting process and approve legislative and congressional district maps. “This is on all the redistricting we have to do. We’ve got to do this and everything. The special session is part of the Legislature’s constitutional duty to redistrict the state of West Virginia,” Justice said.

Wyoming: At an Oct. 6, 2021, meeting, the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Corporations, Election and Political Subdivisions committee agreed on a schedule to finish the redistricting process. The committee set Nov. 1, 2021, as the deadline for map proposals. Redistricting legislation proposals must be finished by Dec. 1, 2021, so they can be reviewed before the 2022 budget session begins on Feb. 14. The committee plans to meet again in early November to go over any remaining issues with the map drafts, but has not set a date yet.



First 2022 state supreme court vacancy announced

Wyoming State Supreme Court Justice Michael K. Davis is retiring on Jan. 16, 2022, upon reaching the state court’s mandatory retirement age of 70 years. The vacancy created by Davis’ retirement is the first state supreme court vacancy to be announced for 2022. Davis’ replacement will be Governor Mark Gordon’s (R) first nominee to the five-member supreme court.

Under Wyoming law, justices of the Wyoming Supreme Court are selected through the assisted appointment method. When a vacancy occurs, the governor appoints a replacement from a list of three names provided by a nominating commission. Newly appointed judges serve for at least one year, after which they must stand for retention in the next general election. If retained, a judge will finish the remainder of his or her predecessor’s unexpired term. Subsequent terms last eight years.

Davis first became a member of the Wyoming Supreme Court when he was appointed by Gov. Matt Mead (R) on Aug. 30, 2012, to succeed Michael Golden. Davis previously served as a judge on the First District Court in Laramie County, Wyoming. From 1980 to 2008, he was a partner at Yonkee and Toner. He has also been a judicial fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers.

Following Davis’ retirement, the Wyoming Supreme Court will include the following members:

  1. Lynne Boomgaarden, appointed by Gov. Matt Mead (R) in 2017
  2. Kate M. Fox, appointed by Mead (R) in 2013
  3. Keith G. Kautz, appointed by Mead (R) in 2015
  4. Kari Gray, appointed by Mead (R) in 2018

In 2021, there have been 16 court vacancies in 14 of the 29 states where replacement justices are appointed instead of elected, as of Sept. 8. The vacancies have been caused by retirements.

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Wyoming to vote in 2022 to allow local governments to invest in stocks and equities

On April 1, the Wyoming State Legislature referred a constitutional amendment to the 2022 ballot that would allow the legislature to provide by law for local governments (county, city, township, town, school district, or other political subdivision) to invest funds in stocks and equities. Legislation establishing or increasing the percentage of funds a local government could invest would require a two-thirds supermajority vote of the state legislature. Currently, the state constitution allows the state legislature to authorize certain state funds to be invested in stocks.

To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before voters, a two-thirds (66.67 percent) supermajority vote is required in both the Wyoming State Senate and the Wyoming House of Representatives.

The measure was introduced as House Joint Resolution 9 on March 4, 2021. It was approved in the House on March 23, 2021, by a vote of 43-16. The Senate approved an amended version of the measure on April 1, 2021, in a vote of 25-5, which was sent to the House for concurrence. The House concurred with the Senate’s amendments on April 1, 2021, in a vote of 46-13.

Between 2000 and 2020, the Wyoming State Legislature referred 20 constitutional amendments to the ballot, of which, 12 were approved (60%) and eight (40%) were defeated.

The legislature was set to adjourn the 2021 legislative session on April 7, 2021. The legislature can also refer measures to the 2022 ballot during the 2022 legislative session.

As of April 2, 2021, 15 statewide ballot measures had been certified for the 2022 ballot in 10 states.

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Wyoming becomes 38th state with an active mask requirement

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon (R) issued an order, effective December 9, requiring face coverings in all businesses open to the public, on public transportation, at medical facilities (like hospitals, doctors offices, and veterinary clinics), and in non-federal government buildings. The order is scheduled to expire on Jan. 8. 

Thirty-eight states have active statewide orders requiring individuals to wear masks in indoor or outdoor public spaces. All 24 states with a Democratic governor have statewide mask orders, while 14 out of 26 Republican states require face coverings.

States issued mask requirements mask requirements in the following months:

  • One new order has been issued in December.
  • Four orders were first issued in November.
  • Three orders were first issued in August.
  • 13 orders were first issued in July.
  • Four orders were first issued in June.
  • Six orders were first issued in May.
  • Eight orders were first issued in April.

Mississippi is the only state that has allowed a statewide mask requirement to expire. The statewide order lasted August 5 through September 30 and was replaced by a regional face-covering order.



Wyoming amendment concerning municipal debt for sewage systems fails

The Wyoming State Legislature referred Constitutional Amendment A to the November 2020 ballot. The measure was designed to remove the constitutional limit on debt a municipality could incur for municipal sewer projects. Going into the election, the limit on total debt for municipal projects was 4% of the assessed value of the taxable property within the municipality. The constitution allows for an additional 4% for municipal sewer projects. The measure would have removed the additional limit of 4% for sewer projects and instead allowed the legislature to provide for additional indebtedness.

This measure failed since it required approval from a majority of voters casting a ballot at the election, which means leaving Amendment A blank was the equivalent of voting against it. Of the total ballots cast, 11.17% of voters either left Amendment A blank or filled in both “for” and “against.”

  • Total ballots cast at the election – 278,503 (100%)
  • Total votes for Amendment A – 126,589 (45.45%)
  • Total votes against Amendment A – 120,808 (43.38%)
  • Undervotes and overvotes on Amendment A – 31,106 (11.17%)

From 1996 through 2018, the Wyoming State Legislature referred 26 constitutional amendments to the ballot. Voters approved 18 and rejected eight of the referred amendments. Four of the eight rejected measures were defeated despite receiving more yes votes than no votes. They failed for the same reason Amendment A (2020) failed. All of the amendments were referred to the ballot for general elections during even-numbered election years. The average number of amendments appearing on the general election ballot was two. The approval rate at the ballot box was 69.23% during the 22-year period from 1996 through 2018. The rejection rate was 30.77%.

Five other states besides Wyoming have this type of requirement based on election turnout instead of votes cast on the measure itself. Four require constitutional amendments to be approved by a majority of all voters at the election, and one requires approval from a number equal to a majority of all voters casting a ballot for governor. Three other states have provisions that require approval from a certain percentage, ranging from 30% to 40%, of all voters at the election. Provisions like these mean that a certain number of undervotes on an amendment could prevent the measure from passing despite approval from a majority of votes cast on the measure itself.

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Wyoming Rep. Edwards dies one day before the general election

Wyoming lawmaker Roy Edwards (R), who represented House District 53, passed away on Nov. 2, 2020—one day before the general election—of an unspecified illness. According to the Gillette News Record, Edwards was admitted to the hospital last week with the unspecified condition. He was 66-years-old.

Edwards didn’t face any challengers in his re-election bid and was expected to win. During the Aug. 18 primary, Edwards won 57.5% of the vote against challenger Tom Murphy. In accordance with Wyoming statute, the Campbell County Republican Party will recommend three replacements for the vacancy no later than Nov. 18.

District 53 had been represented by Edwards since 2015 after then-incumbent Gregg Blikre (R) didn’t seek re-election. The passing of Edwards represents the only current vacancy in the Wyoming House of Representatives.

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Two Wyoming Supreme Court justices seek retention in November

Wyoming Supreme Court Justices Lynne Boomgaarden and Kari Gray are standing for retention election on November 3, 2020. Both Boomgaarden and Gray were appointed by former Wyoming Governor Matt Mead (R).

Mead appointed all five of the justices currently on the court.

The governor appoints the five justices of the Wyoming Supreme Court with the assistance of a judicial nominating commission where neither the governor nor the Wyoming State Bar Association has majority control. The Wyoming Judicial Nominating Commission is made up of seven members: three lawyers (elected from the active membership of the Wyoming State Bar), three non-lawyer members (appointed by the governor), and is chaired by the chief justice of the supreme court.

New justices must face a retention election during the next general election after they serve at least one year on the bench. Justices then stand for retention every eight years. Since 2008, justices facing retention elections have won 98% of the time. In Wyoming, there has not been a single justice that lost retention during this same time frame.

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Voters decide state legislative races in three states

Alaska, Florida, and Wyoming held statewide primaries on August 18, 2020. Candidates competed to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3.

There were 265 state legislative seats up for election, including 45 state Senate seats, and 220 state House seats.

The following information was current as of August 20. At that time, some races were still too close to call.

Across the three states, 206 incumbents filed for re-election to the 265 seats. Preliminary results indicate at least nine incumbents were defeated.

In the state Senate elections, 33 incumbents filed for 45 seats. At least two did not advance to the general election. In the state House elections, 173 incumbents competed for re-election to 220 seats. At least seven were defeated.

The next statewide primary will be held on September 1 in Massachusetts.

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Voters in Alaska, Florida, and Wyoming decide August 18 congressional primaries

Congressional primary elections for two U.S. Senate seats and 29 U.S. House seats were held in Alaska, Florida, and Wyoming on August 18, 2020. Candidates competed to advance to the general election scheduled for November 3, 2020.

Alaska

One U.S. Senate seat and the sole at-large U.S. House seat were on the ballot in Alaska. The incumbents in both races filed for re-election. Sen. Daniel S. Sullivan (R) was unopposed and advanced to the general election. Rep. Don Young (R) faced challengers in the primary. He advanced to the general election.

Florida

All 27 U.S. House seats in Florida were on the ballot. Twenty-five incumbents—13 Democrats and 12 Republicans—filed for re-election. Fifteen incumbents were unopposed and advanced automatically. Ten remaining incumbents faced challengers in the primary. One incumbent lost his bid for re-election, Rep. Ross Spano (R-15). Rep. Ted Yoho (R-3) did not file for re-election, and Rep. Francis Rooney (R-19) withdrew prior to the election. As of August 19, 2020, the results for the 3rd Congressional District Democratic primary and the 7th Congressional District Republican primary were too close to call.

Wyoming

One U.S. Senate seat and the one at-large U.S. House seat were on the ballot in Wyoming. Sen. Mike Enzi (R) did not file for re-election to the U.S. Senate. Rep. Liz Cheney (R) filed for re-election to the U.S. House. Cheney faced one challenger in the primary and advanced to the general election.

Entering the 2020 election, Alaska’s U.S. congressional delegation has two Republican senators and one Republican representative. Florida has two Republican senators, 14 Republican representatives, and 13 Democratic representatives. Wyoming has two Republican senators and one Republican representative. The U.S. Senate has 45 Democrats, 53 Republicans, and two independents who caucus with the Democratic Party. Only 33 out of 100 Senate seats are up for regular election, and two seats are up for special election. A majority in the chamber requires 51 seats. The U.S. House has 232 Democrats, 198 Republicans, one Libertarian, and four vacancies. All 435 seats are up for election. A majority in the chamber requires 218 seats.

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Cynthia Lummis wins the Wyoming Senate Republican primary

Cynthia Lummis defeated nine other candidates in the Republican primary for the United States Senate seat from Wyoming. The Associated Press called the race on election night with 9% of precincts reporting. Lummis led with 57.1% of the vote, followed most closely by Robert Short with 17.5%.

Lummis served as Wyoming’s U.S. House Representative from 2009 to 2017. On August 13, President Trump endorsed her in a tweet, writing, “Cynthia is Strongly for our Military, our Vets, and protection of the Second Amendment. She will be a great Senator, and has my Complete and Total Endorsement!”

The general election has been rated by independent outlets as Solid Republican. Incumbent Mike Enzi (R) announced last year he would not run for another term. He defeated Charlie Hardy in 2014 by 55 percentage points.