Senate President Dockstader updates community on legislative issues
Senate President, Dan Dockstader, was upbeat about the 66th legislative session this week in an interview with SVI news. All of the committees in both of the House and the Senate met and went over their assigned bills. “The speaker and I assigned each of the bills to a committee, allowing the chairman to prioritize those bills as to how they will go through,” he said.
Dockstader also explained the Senate will review the House’s work and vice versa. All the committee work so far has been done virtually this past week, Jan 19-21. Starting Wednesday, the 27th, legislators will re-open the session virtually and begin to review the committee work and begin debate of proposed legislation on the ‘virtual’ floor. Some of the bills introduced will die; some will move on for further consideration. The review process will go on until Feb 5th, after which the session will adjourn the 8-day session.
In the upcoming section of the 66th session––beginning this Wednesday Jan 27, Dockstader will run the senate virtually from a large screen where every senator is visible––to avoid scrolling back and forth. Several senators will be physically present, but the majority will participate from their home offices and laptops.
One of the most significant bills will be the budget. Dockstader said, “We’re preparing that for public review no later than Feb 22nd. This is a big document. There’s a lot that goes into it.”
Governor Gordon has already reviewed the budget and made his cuts. “He put in millions of dollars of cuts before the senate and house will review it,” commented Dockstader. Like recent years the state has a deficit to deal with. Notwithstanding, Dockstader has planned to have the budget ready for legislative review by Feb 8th and public review on Feb 22nd.
All of the committee work and debate over bills will lead up to what Dockstader sees as an in-person session on March 1st. Of the upcoming legislation, Dockstader did mention a piece of legislation proposed that would provide help for older people in their own homes versus in a nursing home.
Of several other bills, he said, “I’m not sure how far these will go, but there is a proposal to put any tax increase to a vote of the public. There will be pieces of legislation dealing with the voting process, whether it’s completely transparent, whether it’s fair and equitable. A lot of that is a spin-off of what happened in other states. I feel confident with Wyoming’s program; it’s a process that works.”
Dockstader anticipates education will be a big issue for the legislators to grapple with: “In the past, education has found legislators to protect their interests along with the Wyoming Education Association.” I’ve said, “Education needs to be at the table with other state agencies. So at no time in the past several years have we done what truly needed to be done with education. Education was left off the table for a variety of reasons, and now we’re in a place where we don’t have that choice anymore. It has to be addressed.”
SVI reached out to Senate colleague,Wendy Davis-Schuler, a Senator from Evanston, who commented on Dockstader’s leadership: “I have the deepest respect for him and look forward to his leadership as our Senate President, but the thing that I am even more impressed with is how he has worked so hard already to be inclusive. He has invited all of us to be a part of the decision-making processes and has welcomed our input.”
Schuler explained several other reasons she believes Dockstader is right for the position, “He is level headed and provides a calm demeanor which is sorely needed in many situations when politics can get a bit “testy”. The next two years are going to be challenging on so many levels, but I look forward to those challenges with confidence with President Dockstader as our leader.”