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Governor signs bill cutting duties of top school official

Greybull Standard of Greybull, Wyoming

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The big news this week in the Wyoming Legislature is that SF104 passed the House and was concurred with by the Senate. The controversial bill dramatically reduces the duties of the state superintendent of public instruction, Cindy Hill.

Gov. Matt Mead signed the bill on Tuesday afternoon and immediately appointed Jim Rose as interim director. Rose is the Wyoming Community College Commission's executive director.

Rep. Elaine Harvey of

Lovell said she has had many of her constituents raise questions about whether or not the bill is taking away the consti-I tutional rights of the people who voted for Hill. She said she felt confident that the bill is constitutional, because the law clearly gives the Legislature the authority to oversee the education department. She said the bill was reviewed by some of the "finest constitutional lawyers in the state" who agreed that the legislature had legal authority to change the duties of the state superintendent of public instruction as they see fit.

"We are putting so much money into education and we still have situations where kids can't even enter college without remedial classes and we've got kids that are dropping out like flies," Harvey said. "Accountability is not being accounted for. The department has not been responsive to our laws, our policies and has blatantly refused to implement any of them. Something had to be done about this."

Now that the bill has been signed into law, the Wyoming State Board of Education will present the names of three candidates to the governor for a new director position. The governor will appoint one of the candidates for the position. The new director will take over many of Hill's responsibilities. The appointment is subject to Senate confirmation.

HB97, also known as the "No abortion after heartbeat" bill, died in committee this week. Harvey, who is against abortion, said she was disappointed that the bill was not strong enough to pass as written.

"Essentially it stops abortions because once a heartbeat is detected it becomes illegal if an abortion occurs," explained Harvey. "It failed because it didn't define the medical equipment to be used to determine if a heartbeat existed. The idea of stopping abortions is exactly where I want to be, but the functionality of that bill had some flaws in it."

HB158 passed the House this week extending the amount of time to register a newly purchased vehicle from 45 to 60 days. HB160, a related bill, extends the amount of time required to pay sales tax on a purchased vehicle or vehicle brought into the state from 50 to 60 days. It has yet to come out of committee.

HB35 passed in the House. The bill extends liability coverage to search and rescue team members during the course of their duties. Volunteer members of search and rescue teams will be granted government immunity while performing a search and rescue operation, if the bill becomes law.

HB133 deals with the issue of human trafficking. Harvey pointed out that Wyoming is one of the few states that does not have a law penalizing controlling another human being into servitude.

She noted that Elizabeth Smart's parents were seated in the balcony during the reading and appeared to be very pleased when the bill passed unanimously during the House vote. Smart was abducted from her home in

Salt Lake City at age 14 and forced into servitude for nine months before being found alive and returned to her family. The bill passed Friday 59-0.

HB128 passed the House this week. The bill, if it becomes law, prohibits importation or possession of illegally taken wildlife and the possession of parts of wasted big game animals, like mounted heads or hides.

Numerous other bills were also reviewed and voted on by the House this week. Those that passed were forwarded on to the Senate. A complete listing of the bills introduced during the current session of the Wyoming Legislature and the status of the bills can be found at http://legisweb. state.wy.us/lso web/session/Billslnfo.aspx.



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Original Publication Date: January 31, 2013



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