Opinion: The problem of public access during a pandemic

December 9, 2020

From Chris Merrill for WyoFile

If there was ever a more important time for government transparency and public access and participation at the Wyoming Legislature, I can’t think of it. 

Since July, the state’s already lean budget has been cut by an additional 15% — with health, education and family services taking the biggest hits. Those cuts, so easy to talk about abstractly as “line items” or “trimming the fat,” translate to real lives impacted. 

These cuts mean real people going without much-needed services like mental health care, developmental services for children with special needs, and elder care. They mean hundreds of residents losing real jobs and very real paychecks. 

And this is all before some of the toughest conversations — about what happens to our public schools, the beating hearts of our communities  — have even started.

In the coming months, Wyoming’s 90 elected lawmakers will have monumental decisions to make. Those decisions, which will affect the lives of hundreds of thousands for years to come, will be informed by a few fundamental questions.

What do we value most about Wyoming? And what are we willing to sacrifice for it? 

I don’t know about you, but I don’t want this handful of citizen legislators to be asking these questions in a closed room. I don’t want them legislating in a vacuum. That’s not how democracy works. For our lawmakers to make the best decisions for the future of this state, they need to be hearing the answers from you. 

Read the whole column at WyoFile.

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