After months of back-and- forth between state lawmakers regarding legislative redistricting, the Wyoming House of Representatives has passed legislation aimed at equal representation for both Wyoming’s rural areas of the west and urban areas of the east. House Bill 100, known as the 62-31 plan, passed third reading Friday on a 54-6 vote and has been sent to the Senate. The bill looks to add one Senate and two House districts to the Wyoming Legislature.
“We worked on (redistricting) all summer and I was pretty happy with what we had done in the western part of the state, but when we got over into the eastern part it just kept going back and forth and back and forth,” stated Rep. Jim Roscoe, I-Wilson, during a live interview this past Monday on SVI Radio. “We moved it around and it just seemed like adding two representatives and one senator did solve a lot of problems all over the state.”
As currently written, HB100 would have impacts on where boundaries are located in Star Valley and Lincoln County. Northern Star Valley currently lies inside House District 22, rep- resented by Jim Roscoe. Southern Star Valley, along with Cokeville, resides in House District 21, Represented by Evan Simpson, R-Afton. The two districts together make up Senate District 16, represented by Senate President Dan Dockstader, R-Grover. If the proposed bill is eventually signed by the Governor as is, the House District boundaries would shift to the north.
Thayne along with most of Freedom and Etna would move into Rep. Simpson’s district, while Star Valley Ranch and Alpine would remain in Rep. Roscoe’s district. Cokeville would be moved to House District 18, which is represented by Scott Heiner, R-Green River. All of Star Valley would remain in Dockstader’s Senate District, however Cokeville would be moved to Senate District 14, represented by Senator Fred Baldwin, R-Kemmerer.
“We expect the Senate to change quite a few things so we’ll see what they do,” stated Roscoe.
Proponents of the bill say adding additional representation better serves Wyoming residents. Rep. John Bear, R-Gillette, said he has estimated the expense to add two representatives to the House would be around $150,000-$200,000 a year.
“Doing the math, each of us would have approximately 300 fewer people to represent,” Bear said. “That means that those 9,300 people that you do represent are closer to each of you. That is good governance.”
Opponents to the bill argued that increasing the size of state government is not the answer. Rep. Clark Stith, R-Rock Springs, said “We have made essentially permanent cuts to the base employee level of our state government. For us to do that, make those painful cuts for our state employees, who actually provide the services to our constituents, to say, ‘Well, 90 legislators is not enough, we have to have 93,’ doesn’t make any sense.”
As of Tuesday afternoon the bill had been assigned to the Senate Corporations, Elections & Political Subdivisions Committee for review. The bill, along with the entire 2022 legislative session, can be followed online at www.wyoleg.gov.