Governor Gordon vetoes HB 38/ HEA No. 0021 Per diem rates

Feb. 15, 2019

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Governor Mark Gordon vetoed HB 38/ HEA No. 0021 Per diem rates, calling the bill flawed though well intended.

“House Bill 38 is in my estimation flawed. It seeks to raise the per diem rate for legislative duty in general, and then reduces that compensation by half during a legislative session for those serving within a 25-mile radius of the Wyoming capitol building. As such the bill seems solely prejudiced against legislators living within a 25-mile radius of the State capitol. ”

“I am, therefore, vetoing House Bill 38. In doing so I again commend the legislature for their consideration of this topic and recommend reconsideration in the intervening year. “If such a bill is eventually passed, the Legislature might consider implementing such changes at the beginning rather in the middle of a legislator’s term of office, thus providing predictability for those weighing whether or not to run for office.”

The text of the letter follows. Click here see the signed letter.

February 15, 2019

The Honorable Steve Harshman,

Speaker, Wyoming House of Representatives,

3001 East Pershing Boulevard, Cheyenne, Wyoming 82001

Dear Speaker Harshman,

In considering House Bill 38, I want to recognize the Legislature’s diligence in scrutinizing its expenses and providing for a reasonable recognition of the changing costs associated with serving in the Legislature. Wyoming is blessed to have a citizen legislature made up of individuals willing to serve her for the benefit of her people. In doing so, it is important that we balance the commitment of a citizen’s willingness to serve with the personal financial obligations involved. Wyoming always seeks to enable any of her citizens to serve, not just those with substantial means. Moreover, Wyoming has balanced compensation so as not to discourage citizen service while simultaneously discouraging a culture of “professional politician.”

I believe it should be recognized that this per diem discussion further applies to those who have agreed to serve on Wyoming’s boards and commissions. Therefore, consideration of this topic is timely and important to the proper continued functioning of Wyoming government. While compensation is arguably modest and well within the parameters discussed above, the legislature is to be applauded for looking for ways to be ever more frugal while seeking to appropriately remunerate the service of citizens serving on boards, commissions, and in the legislature.

House Bill 38 is in my estimation flawed, however. It seeks to raise the per diem rate for legislative duty in general, and then reduces that compensation by half during a legislative session for those serving within a 25-mile radius of the Wyoming capitol building. It would seem the radius selected for special reduction was arbitrary to some extent not fully examining, as a basis, who might or might not regularly commute from their homes during a session, for example. Moreover, while the apparent intent of the bill seeks to admit that those living proximate to the State capitol building most likely do not have to absorb the additional costs of temporary accommodation because they can stay in their homes, the bill does not recognize that other legislators might also be able to avoid those same additional costs by staying with friends or family, for example.

Another inherent inconsistency with HB 38 is that the same factor applied to those within the delineated 25-mile radius is not applied for legislative work elsewhere in the state when that activity might occur in a legislator’s home town. As such the bill seems solely prejudiced against legislators living within a 25-mile radius of the State capitol.

I am, therefore, vetoing House Bill 38. In doing so I again commend the legislature for their consideration of this topic and recommend reconsideration in the intervening year.

If such a bill is eventually passed, the Legislature might consider implementing such changes at the beginning rather in the middle of a legislator’s term of office, thus providing predictability for those weighing whether or not to run for office.


Sincerely,

Mark Gordon

Governor

cc:

The Honorable Secretary of State, Edward Buchanan

The Honorable Drew Perkins, President of the Senate

Chief Clerk, Wyoming House of Representatives

Chief Clerk, Wyoming Senate


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