Legal Services Division

The Legal Services Division provides legal services for the Legislature. Members of the Division draft legislation and amendments to legislation; staff committees; review and report on rules adopted by state agencies; and conduct legal research for legislators. The following sections explain the primary services the Legal Services Division provides to legislators.

Bill and Amendment Drafting

Staff in the Legal Services Division is responsible for drafting all legislation. We draft legislation at the request of individual legislators and interim, select, or standing committees. We do not draft legislation at the request of state agencies, other elected officials, lobbyists, or members of the public. Those entities must contact a legislator or committee to request draft legislation. During the session, the Division spends the bulk of its time drafting remaining bills and amendments. Amendment drafting, like bill drafting, is done only at the request of legislators and committees. During session, Legal Services Division staff divides into Senate attorneys and House attorneys and we work out of the attorney offices in each chamber. House attorneys draft amendments for bills in the House at the time of the request and Senate attorneys draft amendments for the bills in the Senate. If a bill is extremely complicated, the original drafter often works on amendments to that bill regardless of which house the bill is in.

Committee Staffing

Each Legal Services Division member staffs one or two standing committees and the respective subcommittees during the interim. Legal Services members may also staff an additional select committee. We provide both administrative and professional services for committees. Administrative responsibilities include providing a meeting notice to the committee and the public, drafting an agenda, arranging the meeting place and time, and drafting minutes of meetings. Staff does not determine which items will be placed on the agenda, meeting places, or times; these issues are left to the discretion of the committee chairmen. Professional services related to committee staffing include conducting research, providing legal advice, and drafting bills and amendments. Staff will gather information for the committee, research approved interim topics and work with state agencies and lobbyists to bring information before the committee. In addition to conducting research related to committee topics, staff provides legal advice at the request of the committee and drafts legislation for the committee meetings. Staff drafts the legislation as approved by the committee. We also work with individual members on proposed amendments to legislation before the committee, or approved by the committee, for consideration during the session.

State Agency Rule Reviews

The Legal Services Division reviews all rules adopted by state agencies. After a rule is adopted, we review it to determine whether it was adopted in accordance with required procedures, whether there is statutory authority for the rule, and whether the rule appears to be within legislative intent. If the rule appears to meet these requirements, a report summarizing the rule is provided to the Management Council and the rule is place on a "consent list" for the Council to vote on by mail ballot. LSO may "object" to the rule based upon either procedural or substantive grounds. Under this circumstance, the LSO provides a report to the Council, specifying the reason for the objection. The Council votes on this report by mail ballot. If a majority of the Council agrees with the LSO report, the Council asks the Governor to require the agency to amend or rescind the rule. If the Governor agrees, the agency can resolve the issue by amending the rules; if the Governor does not agree, the rules become effective as promulgated. The Legislature’s recourse is to pass a Legislative Order prohibiting the implementation of the rule or to change the law in the future. The LSO normally only reviews the rules after they have been adopted within the executive branch and does not generally review proposed rules.

Legal Research and Information Requests

The Legal Services Division provides legal research for individual legislators, as well as committees. Staff within the Legal Services Division also responds to information requests from legislators, citizens, and other entities. While we are not staffed to research issues for the general public or provide constituent services for legislators, we provide information to the public concerning legislative functions, such as information concerning bills that are introduced, amendments to bills, current Wyoming statutes, or about state government generally. We cannot provide legal opinions to private citizens, but can connect them with appropriate resources. We can tell a citizen where the domestic relations laws are located in the statutes, but will not provide a legal interpretation of those laws. In these circumstances, we will refer citizens to the Wyoming State Bar for a private attorney reference or to the appropriate governmental agency.