First, the Senate heard HB 54 Workers’ compensation amendments in Committee of the Whole, assuring the bill of a full debate on the Senate floor by getting it off general file.
Any bill not off general file by the end of the day Friday dies for the session.
The Senate quickly went through the bill and Sen. Charles Scott, as usual, took a few swings at attorneys, a profession he long has made clear that he holds in low regard. But he did manage the bill. It was good to see conservative stalwart Sen. Eli Bebout of Riverton endorse the bill. Sen. Bebout noted that benefits for injured workers have not been increased for many years and said it is time to do so.
Children’s health insurance
Timing still tight
Over in the House, supporters of a bill that will expand the KidCare Chip program to cover more children with health insurance continued the rush to meet the Legislature’s General File deadline. After getting the measure out of the House Labor committee Wednesday night, the House Appropriations committee considered the bill, SF 39 Children’s health insurance program over the noon recess. The committee approved the measure on a 6-1 vote, with only Rep. Jeb Steward of Saratoga voting against the bill.
“I applaud this step,” Rep. Pete Jorgensen told the prime sponsor Sen. Mike Massie after the committee’s vote. “It’s a small step but it’s a step.”
Jorgensen has advocated for more aggressive efforts by the state to address the lack of access to affordable, quality care that plagues many residents of Wyoming.
The bill now goes to the House General File, where all supporters of the bill now need to ask their representatives to ask House Majority Leader Buchanan to make certain the bill is considered during committee of the whole Friday.
Here are some key points to consider mentioning to your representatives in email messages and any other conversation you can have with them.
- This is a successful program that currently serves approximately 5,700 children in our state. These are children whose families are earning up to 200% of the federal poverty level;
- This bill proposes increasing eligibility up to 300% of the federal poverty level;
- The state financial contribution for this bill is less than $100,000 ($94,355);
- The federal contribution is 65% of the cost and amounts to $185,232;
- The state premium per child is $188 per month which includes health, mental health and dental care. It is anticipated that the premium will increase to $200 per month on July 1;
- Parents who earn between 201 and 250% of the federal poverty level would be required to contribute up to $40 per month (per child but only for the first two children) toward the premium and up to $250 per person in deductibles per year;
- Parents who earn between 252 and 300% of the federal poverty level would be required to contribute up to $50 per month (per child but only for the first two children) toward the premium and up to $500 per child in deductibles per year;
- This program supports working families who are doing everything they can to support their families.
As always, remember to lobby politely. Please don’t send an email blast to all 60 members. A comment of support for SF 39 to your House district’s representative will be most effective. If you have relationships with other members, please write separate messages to them.
Thanks for all your help advocating for Wyoming’s uninsured children.
Why was the day not perfect? Well, SF 94, a campaign finance bill was heard. It raises individual contributions limits to $2,400 per election. The ESPC like to see the bill killed. There does not appear to be a compelling need to pump more money in elections in Wyoming.
Or, if contribution limits must be raised because of the rising cost of races for governor, the ESPC believes the state should institute tiers of individual contribution limits. Wyoming could raise individual contribution limits for statewide races – governor, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer and superintendent of public instruction – but have a second tier that retains the existing $1,000 individual limit for all other elections.
Campaign costs in the average contested Wyoming legislative race are low – about $15,000 for a contested state Senate race and around $8,500 for a contested House race, according to the Wyoming League of Women Voters.
Deanna Frey of the Wyoming Children's Action Alliance contributed to this report.