CHEYENNE — The Wyoming Legislature intends to cram some contentious issues into just four workdays this week.
A Senate committee will consider two hot-button gun bills on Wednesday while a lottery bill is set to hit the Senate floor, perhaps on the same day.
House Speaker Tom Lubnau, R-Gillette, said the Legislature intends to send the supplemental budget bill that both houses approved last week to Gov. Matt Mead on Tuesday for his consideration.
If Mead acts on the budget by Wednesday as scheduled, Lubnau said the Legislature should finish action on it by Friday.
Senate President Tony Ross, R-Cheyenne, said the Senate Judiciary Committee has set two House gun bills for a hearing Wednesday morning.
One of the bills would expand an existing provision in state law that bans local governments from enacting any gun-control measures of their own.
The more hotly debated bill would seek to specify that any federal ban on assault weapons or high-capacity ammunition magazines wouldn’t be valid in Wyoming. It would also specify that any federal officials who tried to enforce such a ban would be guilty of a misdemeanor and face up to a year in jail.
Critics say the second bill, House Bill 104, has constitutional problems. They say it’s clearly established that states don’t have authority to flout federal law.
Ross said he expects the provision of House Bill 104 that would call for arresting federal officials seeking to enforce federal law will generate some discussion in the Senate.
“I personally do not believe that would withstand constitutional muster,” said Ross, a lawyer in private practice in Cheyenne.
Lubnau, who’s also a lawyer, said, “The Wyoming Legislature is a firm supporter of firearms rights, and the debate won’t be around whether or not we support firearms rights, but whether or not the language in the bill is the best language to accomplish our means.”
Lubnau said he believes the Legislature’s position on firearms issues frequently gets spun by pro-gun lobbying groups. However, he said, “the truth of the matter is we’re looking for the best language to protect the firearms rights of our citizens, and making sure in the context of our legal framework that the statutes will withstand constitutional challenge.”
The pending lottery bill would allow both a state lottery as well as participation in multi-state games, such as Powerball.
Ross said floor debate on the lottery bill will probably start Wednesday in the Senate, where it would require three votes to pass. It already has passed the House.
“Most of the debate is there are people who believe it’s a moral issue they’re bringing to the table about why you shouldn’t have a lottery,” Ross said.
Ross said he personally supports the lottery bill, and has been a co-sponsor of similar bills in the past. He said he hates to see money flowing out of Wyoming to support lottery sales at locations out of state.
Lubnau said he’s familiar with the criticism that lottery amounts to a “regressive tax that taxes the poor.” However, he said one of his parents’ friends accosted him after he voted against a lottery bill in his first term in office.
“One of the ladies back home said, ‘I helped raise you, how dare you tell me what my morality should be, or how I should spend my money. I want a lottery,”’ Lubnau said. “And I’ve voted for it every time since then.”