Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Workers' Compensation reform

House seals victory for Wyo workers

Higher campaign contributions rejected by House

The final step in the legislative process for HB 54, the Workers’ Compensation reform bill, took place Tuesday when the House concurred with Senate amendments on a 50-10 vote. The bill now goes to the Governor.

As noted in the March 2 blog, this success culminates months of work and will significantly improve the lives of Wyoming’s permanently disabled workers. It’s an outstanding example of how public education and engagement can work to move a Legislature which is not, overall, sympathetic to the situations of working Wyomingites.

Campaign finance bill killed on consent list

Senate File 12 Campaign finance, the bill raising individual campaign contribution limits, came to a dramatic end Tuesday on third reading and final consideration in the House.

On Monday, Reps. Mary Throne and Amy Edmonds (Democrat and Republican from Cheyenne, respectively) successfully amended the bill to apply the proposed increase in the individual contribution limit (from $1,000/election to $2,400/election) only to statewide races. The amendment won passage by the barest of margins at 31 votes.

Surprisingly, no legislator attempted to remove that amendment and Third Reading, and the bill was on the “consent list,” meaning that no amendments were offered and no further discussion was deemed necessary. The consent list is voted on as a whole with everyone voting “aye.” After the list of bills is approved, the chief clerk reads the number and title of each bill it and asks if there are any changes.

Usually, a handful of legislators will change their votes to “no” on any given bill.

Regular readers of this blog may recall that we wrote about a situation earlier this session when a bill on the consent list, HB 313 Licensing of employer daycare facilities, died when 30 legislators changed their votes to “no.”

The same thing happened Tuesday on SF 12, but an error by the chief clerk initially put the vote at 31-29. Legislators keeping track at their desks asked for a check of the audio recording, which confirmed a 30-30 vote. Bills must pass by a majority of those elected to the House, so SF 12 failed.

ESPC researcher Sarah Gorin filed this report.