A special session of the Wyoming Legislature is off after Sunday vote

The House voted 27 to 35 against returning to Cheyenne this summer, while the Senate voted 16 to 15 in favor of the idea.
A room in the Wyoming Capitol building near the Senate chambers.
A room in the Wyoming Capitol building near the Senate chambers on March 28, 2024. (Chris Clements/KHOL)

by | Apr 1, 2024 | News, Politics & Policy

After weeks of uncertainty, there will be no special session of the Wyoming Legislature this summer. 

That’s the result of a vote taken Sunday evening of both chambers.

An op-ed penned by House leadership said that while a majority of senators voted for the special session, a majority of the House did not.

House leaders said that ultimately, the reason there wouldn’t be a special session was because Freedom Caucus members weren’t open to a session devoted solely to Senate File 54.

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That bill was a property tax relief measure that was vetoed by Gov. Mark Gordon, a rejection that was widely criticized by the Legislature.

It would have cut 25% off assessed home values up to $2 million.

Instead, according to the op-ed, the Freedom Caucus wanted a session that would also touch on four to six other bills, including one that would have temporarily shut down Wyoming’s only remaining clinic providing procedural abortions.

“No bill, except SF 54, demonstrated the urgency of necessitating a special session,” wrote House leaders Clark Stith, Barry Crago and Speaker of the House Albert Sommers. “In the absence of joint rules governing the special session, this would leave a special session vulnerable to potential chaos with each member at liberty to introduce whatever bills they chose.”

Senate President Ogden Driskill (R-Devils Tower) and Albert Sommers (R-Pinedale) went back and forth on supporting a special session several times in recent weeks.

Ultimately, they said they would not support a special session.

But despite the vote, on Monday morning the Freedom Caucus released a letter outlining potential rules for a special session.

It calls for the Legislature to address only six previously vetoed measures in a theoretical special session: SF 54, HB 125, (a bill repealing gun-free zones) HB 148, (the abortion regulations bill) SF 103, (the Wyoming PRIME Act) SF 13, (a federal land use bill) and a single-subject bill that would bring back vetoed language concerning the University of Wyoming’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

A special session of the Legislature would have been the only chance to reverse the governor’s vetoes, but some have estimated it would cost $35,000 a day, and as much as $700,000 altogether.

This reporting was made possible by a grant from the Corporation For Public Broadcasting, supporting state government coverage in the state. Wyoming Public Media and Jackson Hole Community Radio are partnering to cover state issues both on air and online.

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