Legislature Talks Bikes and Refugees

Staff     2-15, 2016

The budget will hit the floors of the House and Senate this week as the state legislature continues to meet in Cheyenne. Lawmakers will deal with a number of bills this week as they try to come up with the budget for the next two years and try to keep programs going in the face of dipping energy revenues

On Friday, the Senate killed a bill that would have made it illegal for school employees to ask students to provide access to their online accounts or email. Senator Dave Kinskey from Sheridan says Senate File 14 is a step in the wrong direction to protect students at school.

Under this bill, school officials would have to ask parents for access to a student’s private social media account or cell phone. Bill sponsor Chris Rothfuss of Laramie says that, by including parents in the decision, the privacy protections would be there.

Rothfuss says privacy rights and concerns of students are real.

The Senate also passed on third reading Senate File 8. The bill will set up a task force to study the benefits and opportunities of bicycle and pedestrian pathways and natural surface trails in the state. Lander Senator Cale Case says a usable bike path system will be beneficial for economic development and recruitment in communities across the state.

Case adds that a bike path system is also important for safety.

Senator Hank Coe from Cody says a safe and robust bike path system will also help one of the state industries that is showing growth: tourism.

A house committee also approved a bill that would require public hearings and a majority vote in the legislature before setting up a plan needed for federal funding for a refugee program. The bill blocks Governor Matt Mead from setting up a program that would help refugees arriving, either directly or indirectly, in Wyoming. Wyoming is the only state in the country without a refugee resettlement program.