Legislation the ESPC will monitor

Medicaid Expansion heads list

New bills touch all aspects of civic life in Wyo

Two steps forward on civil rights; big steps back with others

While the Medicaid Expansion remains the Equality State Policy Center’s top priority for the 2013 General session, but there is a plethora of other bills we’ll be lobbying on and monitoring. As always, the measures include taxes; issues that affect working families, like pension and wage laws; basic civil rights, and laws that can help or hinder our ability to keep our democracy a vibrant institution that responds to the needs of people first. Here’s an incomplete list of pending legislation that already has drawn our attention: Medicaid Expansion – A study by the Department of Health found that the state will save nearly $50 million from 2014 to 2020 by adopting the expansion. The measure will provide Medicaid health insurance to nearly 30,000 children, their families, and childless adults. The bill includes a “trigger’’ that ends Wyoming’s participation if federal matching funds ever fall below the 90 percent level authorized when Congress passed the Affordable Care Act in 2010. The bill is Senate File 122 – Expansion of Medicaid. The ESPC has joined the Wyoming Coalition for Medicaid Expansion (WYCOME). The coalition members recognize the benefits of the expansion to Wyoming and its people and support its adoption. The 15 member organizations of WYCOME include AARP, the Wyoming Hospital Association, the Wyoming Association of Churches, the Wyoming Association of Psychiatric Physicians, the Wyoming Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, Wyoming Integrated Care Network, Wyoming Chapter of the American College of Physicians, the Wyoming Health Foundation, the Wyoming Nurses’ Association, the Wyoming Primary Care Association, the American Heart Association, the Wyoming Women’s Foundation, Consumer Advocates: Project Healthcare, and the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. Read the coalition’s Medicaid Expansion fact sheet here. Fuel taxes – The ESPC supports passage of House Bill 69 –Highway funding, which raises Wyoming fuel taxes by 10 cents per gallon to raise revenues supporting the state’s highway transportation system. The ESPC, long concerned about the steep regressivity of Wyoming’s tax system, supports an amendment aimed at blunting the impact of the tax on low-income residents. Public Pensions – While no bills have been filed to raise employee contributions to the state public pension system, such a measure is under consideration by the Senate Appropriations Committee. The pension system is healthy. The ESPC agrees with officials at the Wyoming Retirement System who have told lawmakers there’s no need for immediate increases in employee contributions to the plans they administer. Civil rights – Both positive and negative bills have been filed. House Bill 169 – Marriage-definition provides marriage equality by declaring marriage a civil contract between two natural persons. Senate File 131 – Discrimination prohibits employment, housing, and other discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity. And House Bill 133 – Human trafficking would make Wyoming the 50th state in the nation to pass its own laws prohibiting this modern form of slavery. Here’s a bill that we will try to block: Senate File 134 – Voter identification requires citizens to provide a photo ID  issued by either the United States or the state of Wyoming when they vote. A valid ID must have an expiration date, thus tribal identification would not be valid identification for a voter. Similar legislation was defeated in 2009. Working families – Several bills will be tracked, including House Bill 112 – Tip distribution policies, which allows tip pooling. (This bill already has been approved and sent to the Senate.) House bill 89 – Unemployment compensation-drug testing directs the Department of Workforce Services (DWS) to establish a random drug testing program for unemployment compensation insurance beneficiaries whose only potential employment is in occupations for which the U.S. Department of Labor requires drug testing. House Bill 89 also requires DWS to test workers fired for illegal drug use but whose employers could not provide sufficient proof of the illegal drug use to the department. Elections – One bill, Senate File 108 – Primary elections eliminates party ballots and allows any voter to vote for any candidate running in a primary election. The two candidates receiving the most votes would advance to the general election. A second bill takes exactly the opposite approach to partisan primaries. House Bill 141 – Political party affiliation prohibits changing party membership on the day of the Primary election. Registered voters would be required to change political affiliation at least 30 days prior to the election. Keep an eye on this space. There will be more legislation to watch.    

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