Affie Ellis Not Seeking Re-Election

Republican State Senator Affie Ellis (SD-8) announced she will not seek another term in the Wyoming Senate. She was first elected to the Senate in 2016 and will have completed two four-year terms at the end of the year. Ellis, a member of the Navajo Nation, was the first female Native American to serve in the Wyoming Legislature.
“Serving the people of Wyoming is a tremendous honor and I am proud of the work my colleagues and I accomplished in these last eight years,” Ellis said. “My family has provided love and support throughout this journey and they’ve made sacrifices as I traveled this amazing state to do the work of Wyoming people. In 2025 and beyond, it will be time to focus my attention on my family, particularly my children, before they head off to college in the coming years.”
Ellis served six years on the Senate Education Committee where she modernized Wyoming’s curriculum to include computer science instruction for all K-12 students, providing Wyoming graduates with the skills they need to successfully compete in an increasingly technology reliant economy. She is a fierce advocate for parental rights and led efforts to enhance school safety and improve early childhood literacy which plays a pivotal role in a student’s academic success throughout their school years. The daughter of a welder, Ellis was committed to supporting career and technical education, understanding that these students can find meaningful employment while also addressing Wyoming’s workforce needs. She was often instrumental in finding common ground between the Senate and House positions on education, evidenced by the enactment of charter school legislation, and the creation of the Wyoming’s Tomorrow Scholarship which provides financial assistance to qualifying adult learners to pursue a degree or certification. “With three kids attending public schools in Cheyenne, I’ve had a front-row seat to see what issues parents care about,” Ellis stated. “I was proud to take on tough issues based on students’ and families’ concerns, especially when their voices were overlooked or dismissed.”
Knowing small business, Ellis served four years on the Joint Revenue Committee where she spearheaded a law to provide personal property tax relief for thousands of Wyoming’s mom-and-pop business owners. She served as the Chairwoman of the Senate Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee and crafted legislation establishing the Outdoor Recreation Trust Fund which will help local communities better manage increased visitation and thrive on their own terms. She also supported sportsmen legislation for Wyoming residents, including a law allowing hunters to wear neon pink in addition to fluorescent orange. “I can’t tell you how many pictures people have sent me of their young daughters or wives wearing bright pink hunting gear while kneeling next to an animal they’ve just harvested. It’s rewarding to see so many women and young girls enjoying this wonderful sport as I do, knowing their freezers will be full of meat to feed their families,” Ellis said.
Ellis also serves as the Senate Chairwoman of the Select Committee on Tribal Relations where she continues to work closely with tribal leaders of the Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho Tribes of Wyoming’s Wind River Reservation. She was successful in enacting legislation to begin addressing the epidemic of Missing and Murdered Indigenous People, to protect Native American graves located on state and private lands, and to codify the Indian Child Welfare Act into state law. At the recommendation of U.S. Senator John Barrasso, Ellis also served on the bi-partisan Indian Law and Order Commission from 2010-2014. “We need more public servants like Affie Ellis,” Barrasso said. “True to her roots and faithful to her cause, she is Wyoming through and through. There is surely more Affie will be offering in the years ahead to her community, her state, and her country,” Barrasso stated. “I will always be a fan and forever thankful as she continues working to make Wyoming an even better place to live and work.”
Ellis currently serves on the Senate Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee; the Select Committee on Blockchain, Financial Technology and Digital Innovation Technology; the Select Federal Natural Resource Management Committee; and the Select Water Committee. Given her diverse background and knowledge on a broad range of issues, U.S. Senator Cynthia Lummis asked Ellis to testify before the U.S. Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee in April of 2021. “Senator Ellis has been a tremendous advocate for Wyoming, leading efforts to improve and expand educational opportunities for children and adults alike and advocating to improve public safety on the Wind River Reservation,” said Senator Lummis. “There is perhaps no better way to influence and inspire change in the Cowboy State than serving in the Wyoming Legislature. I thank Senator Ellis for her service and I wish her and her lovely family well.”
Outside of her committee assignments, Ellis led efforts to support economic development, such as providing a regulatory framework for ride share companies, like Uber and Lyft, to do business in Wyoming. With her professional background that includes a law degree, Ellis worked to improve regulation of gaming which has more than doubled in Wyoming in the last five years. She cautions, however, that “Wyoming would benefit from additional laws to protect the gaming public from unscrupulous actors in this fast-growing industry.” She also passed bills to address issues related to violence against women, including successful passage of laws to protect evidence collected in sexual assault investigations.
In addition to her legislative accomplishments, Ellis also co-chaired the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus, a non-profit organization comprised of former and current female lawmakers who organize the annual Leap Into Leadership conference. This event is designed to encourage women to run for office and seek appointment to gubernatorially appointed boards and commissions. When she ran for office in 2016, Wyoming had one of the worst percentages of female representation in its statehouse with only one woman serving in the Wyoming Senate. Today there are seven women in the thirty-one-member chamber. Her district includes downtown Cheyenne and portions of southwest Laramie County. In 2016, she defeated an incumbent legislator in the General Election, garnering 60 percent of the vote. In her 2020 reelection bid, she prevailed in the Primary Election with 63 percent of the vote and in the General Election with 61 percent of the vote.
Ellis is the managing partner of the Cheyenne law office of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck.  She practices in the areas of natural resources, energy, environment, and federal Indian law. The Profiles in Diversity Journal presented her with the Indigenous/Native American Leadership Award in 2023. She currently serves on the board of directors for the Cheyenne Frontier Days Foundation, Wyoming Congressional Award Council, and the Navajo Nation Gaming Enterprise. She founded and currently serves on the Wyoming Bar Association’s Federal Indian and Tribal Law Section.  
She was recognized as a “Woman of Influence” in 2017 by the Wyoming Business Report, a “Leader in Policy” in 2019 by the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, a “Friend of Languages Award” from the Wyoming Association of Language Teachers in 2022, and a “Champion for Charter Schools” by the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools in 2022.