Is There a Constitutional Crisis?

Mark Baker

There is a constitutional crisis facing Wyoming. Article 3 Section 42, in the Wyoming Constitution defines the practice of “logrolling”. The trading of “votes” is something no legislature wants to consider. As a member of the Wyoming House from 2013 to 2017, this is what I experienced.

In 2017, while debating amendments to House Bill 218, Motor vehicles-registration fees, I vocally opposed the bill expected to generate $18,000,000/year in new fees from Wyoming drivers. Many house members expressed concern over senate amendments to include commercial vehicles. The House decided to not concur and I was appointed to the conference committee. I argued for a reduction in the proposed increases.

After the conference committee meeting ended, I was approached by a Senator. We spoke for about 5 minutes in front of a state agency representative. During that conversation, the Senator said to me, if I was willing to work with them on this bill, I could count on them at a later date.

I was troubled by what occurred. I wasn’t sure if the Senator meant it, or if it was a misunderstanding. The bill ultimately became law.

Drafters of the Wyoming Constitution had the wisdom to foresee the issue. They also knew that despite attempts to justify logrolling as acceptable, business as usual, a product of a small state, or just the “good-ole-boys” system, true statesmen and principled representatives; must draw that line. They can vote for or against the substance of a bill. Wyoming is blessed with a constitutional requirement for “single subject” bills, which makes the separation easier. We are a small state, but we can be transparent, fair and legal. Wyoming is worth it.

Mark Baker
Green River, Wyoming

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