councilmen to state reps: legalize it

By Jim Stanford on January 23, 2014

Comments: 17 Comments

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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Posted under Politics, Wyoming, Wyoming Legislature

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Wyoming lawmakers react predictably to Newtown

By Jim Stanford on January 11, 2013

Comments: 20 Comments

The scene at the Capitol.

First came a bill to designate an official state gun.

Then another, inexplicably sponsored by Rep. Ruth Ann Petroff, R-Jackson, to exempt guns from sales tax.

And now House Bill 104, which would make any federal attempt at gun control, no matter how reasonable and justified, unenforceable in Wyoming. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, who represents Wilson and Hoback.

Not to be left out of all the rootin’ and tootin’ over shootin’, Rep. Keith Gingery, R-Jackson, is among the sponsors of yet another bill that would prohibit towns and counties from regulating firearms.

Then there’s the “Citizens’ and Students’ Self-Defense Act,” which would permit concealed weapons inside elementary and secondary schools and at any school, college or professional athletic event.

As usual, The Onion makes a forceful and sane counterargument.

Update 1/13: Co-sponsors Petroff and Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, filed their bill two days before the Newtown massacre and could not withdraw it.

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Posted under Crime, Politics, Republican Party, Wyoming Legislature

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doomsday bill doomed

By Jim Stanford on February 28, 2012

Comments: 3 Comments

Unprepared for Armageddon?

Depriving comedians and headline writers of quality material, the Wyoming House of Representatives defeated today the so-called “doomsday bill” that would have created a task force to plan for the failure or shutdown of the federal government.

The bill failed on a 27-30 vote, with three legislators excused. Rep. Ruth Ann Petroff, R-Jackson, voted for the bill, while Reps. Keith Gingery, R-Jackson, and Jim Roscoe, D-Wilson, helped kill it.

The legislation made national headlines over the last week as observers chuckled at some of the more outlandish provisions, including Wyoming instituting a draft, forming an army and ordering an aircraft carrier. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Dave Miller, R-Riverton, who has a libertarian bent.

On Friday, the House sunk Miller’s battleship by removing the aircraft carrier provision, dashing Wyoming Public Radio news director Bob Beck’s dream of becoming admiral of the Wyoming Navy.

Comics, take heart. The House did advance today the bill calling on Congress to declare New York’s Central Park a wilderness area, thereby delivering a gift to the New York tabloids. Petroff voted in favor, with Gingery and Roscoe opposing.

To follow the action from the Legislature (today is the last day for bills to pass house of origin), search hashtag #wyleg on Twitter or follow @ButterBob.

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Posted under Economy, Humor, Politics, Republican Party, Wyoming Legislature

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local reps shilling for Romney

By Jim Stanford on February 10, 2012

Comments: 23 Comments

Fresh off his drubbing by Rick Santorum in Tuesday’s caucuses, vulture capitalist and Thurston Howell impersonator Mitt Romney has assembled a Wyoming “leadership team” as he looks ahead to the next round of GOP primaries.

Among those on the team are Rep. Ruth Ann Petroff, R-Jackson, and Sens. Leland Christensen, R-Alta, and Dan Dockstader, R-Afton.

Ruth Ann backs Romney.

Our state legislators no doubt will help Romney corral Wyoming’s 29 delegates (a handful compared to the 1,144 needed for nomination), but given that Teton County is a hotbed for political giving, they also ought to help Romney wrangle what he loves most: MONEY.

This might put them at odds with many of their constituents, considering Barack Obama won 61 percent of the vote in Teton County in 2008, compared to 37 percent for John McCain. In Petroff’s District 16, Obama carried 63 percent.

Heading Romney’s Wyoming team is U.S. Rep. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., who has inherited the flair for vituperative hyperbole of her predecessor, Barbara Cubin. Here’s what Lummis had to say about Mitt:

“Wyoming has faced first-hand the consequences of President Obama’s big-government over-regulation that has hindered our state’s economic development. Mitt Romney knows that the best thing Washington can do is to get out of the way of job creators. President Obama’s approach to government has been to balloon government and put us on a path toward Greece.”

Greece! Break out the ouzo and smash a plate, we’re headed for sun and olives.

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Posted under Economy, Politics, Republican Party

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