councilmen to state reps: legalize it

By Jim Stanford on January 23, 2014

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Earlier this week, the town council invited state lawmakers and county commissioners for a discussion on the upcoming legislative session.

Sen. Leland Christensen and Reps. Ruth Ann Petroff and Keith Gingery talked about bills they plan to work on and issues such as state funding for local government. The latter is nuanced and not very sexy but important for how the town and county provide services.

Bob Lenz

At the end, we addressed a topic a little more tangible: a pair of bills that would legalize or decriminalize marijuana. The first, to be sponsored by Rep. Sue Wallis, a Campbell County Republican, would permit medicinal or even recreational use, while the second, authored by Rep. James Byrd, a Democrat from Laramie, would lower the penalty for possessing small amounts to $50 or $100.

That I support such measures is hardly a surprise. But what raised eyebrows was when 81-year-old Councilman Bob Lenz, a retired pharmacist, emphatically weighed in.

“Just legalize it and tax it and control it,” Lenz said. “I think you save a lot of problems … I’ve never had a joint in my life, but [from] everything they tell me, everybody smokes it.”

Skip ahead to the 61:30 mark. The marijuana discussion lasts about 6 minutes.

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Posted under County Government, Crime, Politics, Town Government, Wyoming Legislature

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renewing Wyoming driver’s license now as annoying as in other states

By Jim Stanford on July 30, 2013

Comments: 35 Comments

Sample license from the good ol’ days.

Got a birthday coming up? Woohoo! Driver’s license about to expire on that day? Boooooo.

It used to be that obtaining or renewing a driver’s license in Wyoming was a breeze compared to other states, where a trip to the DMV is synonymous with a root canal.

Now, thanks to a combination of federal and state regulations, be prepared to have everything shy of a vial of your mother’s blood when heading to WyDOT.

It had been four years since my last trip through this process, and days before my license was to expire, I learned that a valid U.S. passport (in addition to my current license) was not enough to prove my identity. I also had to bring my original social security card and two proofs of residency.

WyDOT gave me the option of renewing in advance by mail, which I declined because 1) who does this sort of thing in advance; and 2) it’s always a good idea to mail such documents.

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parks cool with hitchhiking, too

By Jim Stanford on March 15, 2013

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This likely qualifies as a safe and legal place to solicit a ride up north.

When I first reported about the passage of state Sen. Leland Christensen’s hitchhiking bill and subsequent signing by the governor, readers inquired whether the law would apply to federal lands and interstate highways.

Sen. Christensen said the change, which removed a prohibition on soliciting rides, definitely applies to interstates. He also said based on a conversation with Yellowstone Superintendent Dan Wenk, he reasoned that the park would follow Wyoming law on the matter.

I followed up with Grand Teton National Park spokeswoman Jackie Skaggs, and she researched the Code of Federal Regulations.

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Posted under Crime, Environment, Politics, Sports, Wyoming Legislature

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hitchhiking bill passes

By Jim Stanford on February 22, 2013

Comments: 9 Comments

Sen. Christensen at the Capitol last month.

A bill that would legalize hitchhiking in Wyoming has passed both chambers of the state Legislature and awaits Gov. Matt Mead’s signature to become law.

The bill, sponsored by Sen. Leland Christensen, R-Alta, passed final reading in the House today by a 52-6 vote. Earlier the Senate voted 29-1 to approve it.

“It is never over till the ink is dry,” Christensen wrote in an email. “I have my fingers crossed.”

The bill would remove language from state law prohibiting people from being on a highway for the purpose of soliciting a ride. If signed by the governor, the law would take effect July 1.

Reached at his home in Teton Village, Capt. Bob Morris, a longtime advocate of ride sharing, hailed the bill’s passage. “Hurray, that’s terrific news,” Morris said. “It should have happened decades ago.”

Morris said he did not plan to attend a prospective bill signing, even if he could hitch to Cheyenne.

Also expected to rejoice, if the governor approves the legislation: backcountry skiers on Teton Pass, rafters in the Snake canyon, and the mountain man Gator.

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Wyoming bill would legalize hitchhiking

By Jim Stanford on November 26, 2012

Comments: 11 Comments

Thumbing it has long been a part of Western life.

In a move that will warm the hearts of Capt. Bob Morris and backcountry skiers, a state legislator from Teton County is working on a bill to legalize hitchhiking in Wyoming.

Sen. Leland Christensen, R-Alta, will seek to remove from the law a prohibition on soliciting rides, according to the News&Guide. The paper reported:

” ‘It’s a law on the books that doesn’t make sense, especially in these economic times,’ said Christensen, who remembers when his father used to hitch rides home when the family would visit his grandparents.”

Christensen’s view is reinforced by a recent New York Times op-ed, titled “Hitchhiking’s Time Has Come Again,” which argues that the dangers of soliciting rides have been overblown and even fabricated to dissuade people from the once-widespread practice.

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