After a grueling two months, the General Session of the 64th Wyoming State Legislature has come to a close. While the media and political pundits analyze their work, our state legislators have returned home to meet with their constituents, answer questions from their local media and return to their jobs and families.
The Republican Majorities in the House and Senate have much they can be proud of this session. During a challenging financial time in which Wyoming faces significant revenue shortfalls, Republican legislators delivered a balanced budget that reduces the size and scope of government while still providing important services. They debated and worked through solutions to address Wyoming’s education funding shortfall and set us on a path to make necessary reductions while not cutting quality in the classroom.
What’s more, they planned for the future passing a number of key measures aimed at diversifying Wyoming’s economy for the long-term. And despite extreme pressure from special interest groups, our legislators did all this without increasing taxes. Our legislators also passed the most meaningful pro-life legislation in the last 30 years and protected our Second Amendment rights.
However, regardless of personal opinions on their actions, we as citizens owe them a debt of thanks for their service and sacrifice.
We in Wyoming are blessed to have a true citizen legislature. A House and Senate made up of folks from all walks of life – from ranchers and small business owners, to teachers and engineers. This means we have individuals making our laws who understand what it takes to raise a family, balance a checkbook and build a business here in Wyoming. In turn, that also means our legislators make enormous sacrifices to serve their communities.
Wyoming state legislators sacrifice time away from their families, homes and jobs for one to two months every year. They are forced to push responsibilities at home to a spouse or neighbor. They miss their kids’ birthdays, basketball games and piano recitals. They work twelve, sometimes fourteen hour days and live out of a suitcase. They begin their days before the sun comes up, reading and researching bills and key issues. Then they attend committee meetings before session even starts. Lunch is usually on-the-fly at a briefing or another committee meeting. Then after afternoon session, it’s onto endless legislative receptions and events to meet with constituents who travel down to Cheyenne. They get back to their hotels late at night, do some more reading and catch a few hours of sleep before waking up and doing the whole thing over again.
They don’t receive a salary for any of this and lose out on valuable income. Instead they are provided a modest stipend and limited funds to cover the cost of their hotel, gas and some meals.
While our legislators know this is what they signed up for, it doesn’t make the realities of their jobs any easier and our appreciation any less deserving.
Next time you see your local legislator, be it at a meeting or at the grocery store, I encourage you to take a moment to say ‘thank you.’
Thank you for your passion and commitment to our state. Thank you for your service in representing us in Cheyenne. Thank you and your family for the sacrifices you make on behalf of every single Wyoming citizen.