CHEYENNE, Wyo. — The Wyoming Legislature will take on a number of hot-button social issues this week, hearing bills on guns, abortion and same-sex marriage.
"That's where most of the attention will be on the House this week, is on those social issue bills," said House Speaker Tom Lubnau, R-Gillette.
Lubnau said Friday he's scheduled all the bills for hearings this week to save money on security. He said the Legislature always increases its security when lawmakers consider gun and abortion issues because of the large crowds that typically turn out.
"The tenor of emails that we've been receiving, particularly on the gun bills, has been concerning to me," Lubnau said.
"One of our legislators received a fax hoping that he was vivisected by an AK-47," Lubnau said. "If I scatter those bills out through the whole session, I have to pay for four weeks of security. If do it all at the same time, I don't stretch Capitol police and I can do one week of security."
The House Judiciary Committee is set to consider two gun bills on Monday. One would allow people to carry concealed guns into government meetings with written permission of the presiding officer. The other would make it a felony to carry a gun into a courtroom but also allow judges to give people permission to carry guns.
The Judiciary Committee is set to hear three more gun bills on Tuesday, including a measure that would specify that Wyoming would be exempt from any federal action to try to ban assault rifles or high-capacity magazines while making federal agents who tried to enforce the ban subject to state felony charges.
Another bill on the agenda Tuesday would remove the prohibition on carrying guns on college campuses and other areas.
The House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee is scheduled to hear a bills Monday that would expand the definition of marriage to include same-sex couples. Another bill would recognize same-sex domestic partnerships.
A number of Republicans have signed onto the gay rights bills. The WyWatch Family Action group, a conservative family values organization, is mustering its membership meanwhile to oppose the legislation.
The House Labor, Health and Social Services Committee is set to hear a bill on Monday that would prohibit doctors from performing abortions after a heartbeat was audible from the fetus. Abortion rights groups oppose the bill.
That restriction would prohibit abortions after about the sixth week of pregnancy. Currently, abortions may be performed up until about the 19th week.
Senate President Tony Ross said he expects the Senate Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Committee on Wednesday will consider a bill that would raise the state fuel tax. The bill, which already has passed the house, would raise the tax on gasoline from 14 cents to 24 cents, raising about $70 million a year for state highways as well as local roads.
"It's my sense that we'll have enough votes to get it passed," Ross said of the fuel tax increase.