Six weeks into the Legislature’s 2019 session, state lawmakers began sending the fruits of their political labor to Wyoming’s top executive for final approval.
Gov. Mark Gordon plays the final role in the legislative process by signing bills crafted by the Senate and House of Representatives. Since Wednesday, he has put his signature on nearly 30 pieces of legislation, setting in stone laws covering everything from taxes to health care to elections.
During a formal bill-signing ceremony Thursday, Gordon OK’d House Bill 71. It was the only bill seeking to address the gender wage gap that cleared the Legislature, though several were introduced during the session.
Starting July 1, the bill will create harsher punishments for employers who violate equal-pay laws by paying women less than their male counterparts for the same work. The current law calls for a fine of up to $200 and 180 days in prison. Both penalties will increase, to $500 and up to six months in prison.
The Legislature shot down three other bills that aimed to level the playing field for women in Wyoming, which ranks last in the country for wage disparity between genders.
Another bill Gordon signed Wednesday, Senate File 18, aims to reform Wyoming’s campaign finance system and stem the influence of “dark money” in state politics.
Secretary of State Ed Buchanan lauded the bill in a press release, saying it would help solve issues that arose in the 2018 elections, when critics complained that anonymous entities — like “Switch for Wyoming” and “Protecting Our Constitution” — interfered in the primary and general elections.
“The advent of social media, the creative use of political action committees and the advancement of technology,” he said, “require a more dynamic approach to campaign finance. This bill is a good start to reforming Wyoming’s election code.”
Senate File 18 will improve transparency in campaign finance and the intentions of political action committees. But according to the Casper Star-Tribune, an official with the Secretary of State’s Office said it does little to address the anonymity of LLCs, making it virtually impossible to discover their origins and the people or organizations behind them.