Citizen's Guide to the Wyoming Legislature

(Last Updated 2002)

 

TABLE OF CONTENTS

WELCOME TO THE CAPITOL

 

PARKING, ACCOMMODATIONS AND ACCESS TO THE CAPITOL BUILDING

ACCOMMODATIONS FOR INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES

Parking

Access to Capitol 

Elevators 

Seating 

Rest rooms 

Accommodations for Individuals with Hearing Impairments

Telephone Services

Accommodations for Individuals with Vision Impairments

ELECTRONIC ACCESS TO GOVERNMENT INFORMATION

 

ABOUT THE WYOMING LEGISLATURE.

A CITIZEN LEGISLATURE

MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE AND SENATE

LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS

LEGISLATIVE COMMITTEES

LEGISLATIVE STAFF

 

THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS.

HOW A BILL BECOMES LAW

Bill Drafting

Committee Action

Floor Action

Conference Committee Action

Action by the Governor

ORDER OF BUSINESS - TYPICAL LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

 

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.

COPIES OF BILLS AND AMENDMENTS

Where do I get copies of bills?

Do I have the right version of the bill?

Where do I get copies of amendments?

Where do I get copies of enrolled acts and chapters?

BILL STATUS

How do I get bill status information? (i.e., information on what has happened to a bill so far and where it is in the "process.")

COMMITTEE MEETINGS

When and where do the committees meet?

How do I find out when a committee will meet to consider a particular bill?

Will I be allowed to present testimony at committee meetings?

I have a physical disability and require special accommodations to attend or present testimony at a committee meeting. Whom do I contact?

Do I have to register as a lobbyist?

CONTACTING LEGISLATORS

How do I contact my legislator from home to leave a message or to express my opinion on a bill?

I'm in the Capitol and wish to speak to my legislator. Where do I go?

 

CITIZEN'S GUIDE

TO THE WYOMING LEGISLATURE

 

I. WELCOME TO THE CAPITOL.

A. Parking, Accommodations and Access to the Capitol Building.

1. Parking. Parking space near the Capitol is quite limited during legislative sessions. There is no public parking lot within close walking distance. The parking lot to the West of the Capitol and the underground parking lot at the Herschler building are reserved for legislators, legislative staff and state employees. Limited parking spaces are available on side streets around the Capitol but note that many of these spaces are metered or are restricted to time limited parking.

2. Capitol Building Hours. During the Legislative session, the Capitol building is open each morning at 7:00 a.m. and remains open at all times the legislature is in session and while committees are meeting.

3. Information. The first stop for general information is the information desk located in the Capitol rotunda. Information relating to bill status is available at the computer information terminal located in the basement of the Capitol.

4. Rest rooms. Public rest rooms are located in the basement of the Capitol. There are also public rest rooms located in the vicinity of the third floor public seating gallery in the House of Representatives.

5. Telephones. Public pay telephones are located in the basement of the Capitol.

6. Cafeteria/Refreshments. Vending machines are located in the basement of the Capitol. There is no public cafeteria in the Capitol building. The House and Senate coffee rooms are not open to the general public. The nearest public cafeteria is located in the basement of the Herschler building immediately north of the Capitol (accessible via the "tunnel" on the north side of the basement in the Capitol.)

Please note that food and beverages are not allowed in the House and Senate galleries.

B. Accommodations for individuals with disabilities.

1. Parking Spaces. Handicapped parking spaces are available along 24th street directly in front (south) of the Capitol.

2. Access to Capitol Building.  A wheel chair accessible ramp and door is located on the north side of the Capitol Building.  Vehicle access to this location is from the West side of the Capitol Building off of Carey Avenue.

3. Elevators. There are two elevators accessible from the basement or at the east and west ends of the rotunda area on the main floors. Use the West elevator to access the third floor public seating area for the Senate. Use the East elevator to access the third floor public seating area for the House of Representatives.

4. Seating. Both the House and Senate Chambers have been remodeled to provide wheelchair accessible seating spaces in the public seating areas on the third floor.

5. Rest rooms. The public rest rooms in the basement of the Capitol are wheelchair accessible.

6. Accommodations for Individuals with Hearing Impairments. Individuals desiring the use of an interpreter should contact the Legislative Service Office or the Staff Supervisor in the House or Senate for assistance. While a reasonably prompt response can be expected, individuals requiring the services of an interpreter should make this request known as far in advance as possible since legislative proceedings will not be delayed to provide this accommodation.

The Senate is equipped with a personal listening system consisting of a low-power FM transmitter which is activated whenever the Senate is in session. Individuals visiting the Senate may check out a receiver from the Senate doorman or watchman.

7. Telephone Services. Individuals with hearing impairments are encouraged to phone the Wyoming Relay Service (Ph. 1-800-877-9965 for TDD or Text Telephones) for assistance in reaching the Voter Hotline or other telephone services described in this publication.

8. Accommodations for Individuals with Vision Impairments. If a person with a visual impairment requests accommodation regarding bill drafts or other legislative information or publication through audio means, the LSO will arrange to make the material requested available on audio tape and will charge no more than charges levied for the same printed materials.

 

C. Legislative Web Site: Electronic Access to Government Information.

The legislative Web site on the Internet provides Wyoming citizens with electronic access to legislative information. The address is http://legisweb.state.wy.us. It can also be reached through the state's home page on the Web, http://www.state.wy.us. A library in your community may have the needed equipment and support for public access to the legislative Web site for individuals who do not have a personal computer. Please contact your local county library, nearest branch library, community college library or the University of Wyoming library about the current availability of public accessible computers.

Wyoming state government's public information menu on its Web site includes a wide variety of data maintained by executive agencies as well as information relating to the judicial and legislative branches of state government through their respective Web sites.

Legislative information available on the Web site includes:

Wyoming State Statutes and Wyoming Constitution.

House and Senate Standing Committee Lists.

Information about Wyoming's Legislators.

Information relating to the most current Legislative Session including: Indexes and text of bills; calendars of committee meetings and pending legislative action on bills; text of amendments; information on bill status; and all roll call votes.

Real Audio broadcasts of House and Senate proceedings during session.

Historical information relating to previous legislative sessions and Joint Interim Committee activities.

Information concerning interim legislative activities such as joint interim committee meeting schedules, topics assigned for committee study and minutes of meetings.

II. ABOUT THE WYOMING LEGISLATURE.

A Citizen Legislature. Wyoming remains one of the few states having a true part-time citizen legislature. While this may keep Wyoming legislators in closer touch with their constituents, it also means that they do not enjoy the same accommodations provided to full-time legislators in larger states. For example, legislators in Wyoming do not have individual staff. As noted below, staff services for Wyoming legislators are provided by a small permanent central staff agency (the LSO) and by temporary session staff. Office accommodations are similarly austere. Except for a few officers of the House and Senate, members of the legislature are not provided offices in the Capitol nor do they maintain full-time offices in their districts. While in session, the "office" of a typical Wyoming legislator consists of the legislator's desk on the floor of the House or Senate and one or two file cabinet drawers in a committee meeting room. Except for the relatively short periods of time they meet each year in Cheyenne for the annual legislative session, Wyoming legislators can be contacted at home or at their places of business.

A. Members of the House and Senate.

1. House of Representatives. Located in the East Wing of the Capitol, the House of Representatives is made up of 60 members elected from single member districts for two year terms. The principal officers of the House include:

-- Speaker of the House: Appoints committees; assigns bills to standing committees; presides during session; determines whether to appoint conference committees and designates membership; handles administrative functions of the House.

-- Speaker Pro-tem: Performs duties of the Speaker in the Speaker's absence.

-- Majority Floor Leader: Offers formal motions necessary for the conduct of legislative business; in consultation with the Speaker, directs activities on the floor and regulates daily scheduling including order of bills considered in Committee of the Whole.

-- Minority Floor Leader: Directs activities of the minority party on the floor and serves as spokesman for minority party.

-- Majority and Minority Whip: Assists the floor leader; ensures that party members are present on the floor to speak or vote on important measures.

-- Majority and Minority Caucus Chairman: Directs party caucus meetings.

2. Senate. Located in the West Wing of the Capitol, the Senate is made up of 30 members elected from single member districts for four year terms. The principal officers of the Senate include:

-- President of the Senate: Appoints committees; assigns bills to standing committees; presides during session; determines whether to appoint conference committees and designates membership; handles administrative functions of the Senate.

-- Vice President: Performs duties of the President in the President's absence.

-- Majority Floor Leader: Offers formal motions necessary for the conduct of legislative business; in consultation with the President, directs activities on the floor and regulates daily scheduling.

-- Minority Floor Leader: Directs activities of the minority party on the floor and serves as spokesman for minority party.

-- Majority and Minority Whip: Assists the floor leader; ensures that party members are present on the floor to speak or vote on important measures.

-- Majority and Minority Caucus Chairman: Directs party caucus meetings.

 

B. Legislative Sessions.

The Legislature meets in general session in odd numbered years, beginning on the second Tuesday of January. The general session is limited to 40 legislative days, but generally lasts around 38 days.

The Legislature meets in budget session in even numbered years, beginning on the second Monday of February. A typical budget session lasts 20 legislative days. Except for the budget bill, any other bill requires a 2/3rds vote of the House or Senate for introduction in a budget session.

Special sessions of the Legislature may be called at any time by the governor.

C. Legislative Committees.

1. Committee Structure. There are twelve permanent parallel committees in the House and Senate. Much of the work of the Legislature is carried on by these "standing committees" which generally contain 9 members in the House and 5 members in the Senate. Most members serve on several committees.

Standing committees meet before and after the daily general session of the House and Senate, and sometimes during the noon recess, to review bills, hear testimony from interested citizens and recommend action back to the full body of the House or Senate.

Additional information on committee operations is provided in other sections of this booklet.

2. Directory. Qwest and the Wyoming Trucking Association jointly publish an annual legislative directory which includes a photo and a brief biographical sketch of each legislator.  The directory also includes telephone numbers for all House and Senate offices and committee rooms, make up of all House and Senate standing committees, and the position and title of each member of the session staff.  Copies of the directory are available free of charge at the information desk in the Capitol rotunda.

 

D. Legislative Staff.

1. Legislative Service Office (LSO). The LSO is the full time, nonpartisan central staff agency of the Wyoming Legislature. Services provided by the LSO include: research; bill and amendment drafting; revision and recompilation of the statutes; Legislative budget and accounting; and personal staff services for Legislators. Members of the office staff also prepare administrative rule reviews; conduct performance evaluations of executive agency programs, conduct fiscal studies and budget analysis and maintain the legislative Web site. The LSO also employs several part-time staff during the session.

2. Session Staff. The House and Senate employ temporary staff (including chief clerks, staff supervisors, committee secretaries, etc.,) to assist during each legislative session. Session staff are responsible for many of the day to day operations of the legislature and work under the general direction and control of the chief clerk and staff supervisor in the House and Senate. During the session, standing committees and many Legislators also use student interns and legislative aides to assist with research, filing, correspondence, etc.

Operating from their work stations at the front desk of the Chamber, the chief clerk, assistant chief clerk, reading clerk and computer terminal team coordinate the flow of work on the floor of the House and Senate.

III. THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS.

A. How a Bill Becomes Law.

Bill Drafting.

1. Committee Bills. When the legislature is not in session, the respective standing committees of the House and Senate combine to function as "joint interim" committees which are assigned to study major problems facing the state. Many of the bills introduced in the legislative session result from the work of joint interim committees. Special and select committees of legislators may also be established to perform interim work, including studies and the drafting of bills. Information on all interim committee activities including minutes of committee meetings may be obtained by contacting the Legislative Service Office. Computer access to committee information is available to individuals outside the Capitol via the legislative Web site. For more information on the legislative Web site see Section I C. of this booklet.

2. Drafting By LSO. All bills proposed by interim committees as well as all bills sponsored by individual legislators are drafted by the staff of the Legislative Service Office.

STEPS IN THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS.

The Flow Chart appearing at the back of this booklet provides a "thumbnail" sketch of the step by step process a House bill or Senate file follows from initial introduction to final enactment.

A more detailed description of each step in the legislative process is provided in the publication, "Extract from The Wyoming Manual of Legislative Procedures" available free of charge at the information desk in the Capitol rotunda.

The rather complicated process a bill follows in becoming law can be summarized as consisting of four principal stages: Committee action; Floor action; Conference committee action; and Action by the Governor.

1. Committee Action. Following introduction and first reading, a bill is assigned to a standing committee of the House or Senate for discussion and consideration. The committee may hold public hearings on the bill (see information below on how to obtain notice of scheduled committee hearings.) The committee then reports back its favorable or unfavorable recommendation on the bill to the full House or Senate and the bill is placed on "General File" awaiting floor action.

2. Floor Action. A bill receiving a favorable report by a standing committee is then ready for "floor action" by the entire body of the House or Senate. This means the bill will be subject to debate and amendment on the floor of the House or Senate by all the members during Committee of the Whole, and then again on 2nd and 3rd readings. A final vote on the bill is taken following third reading.

3. Conference Committee Action. To become law, a bill must be passed in identical form by both houses of the Legislature. Upon passage by the first house, the bill is sent to the second house where it is again subject to committee and floor action and possible amendment in the second house as described above. If the bill passes the second house without amendment, it is immediately sent on to the Governor for approval or veto. If the bill is amended by the second house, however, additional steps are necessary to complete Legislative action on the bill.

Since a bill must be passed in identical form by both houses of the Legislature, a bill amended in the second house must be returned to the first house to determine if the house of origin will agree or "concur" in the amendments of the second house. If the first house concurs, action on the bill is finished and it is enrolled and sent on to the Governor.

If the house of origin does not concur in the amendments of the second house, the bill is assigned to a conference committee to attempt to work out the differences. If both houses subsequently approve the report of the joint conference committee, the bill is deemed enacted and is then sent on to the Governor.

4. Action by the Governor. Before any bill passed by the Legislature becomes law it must be presented to the Governor. If he approves the bill, he signs it. If he disapproves (vetoes) the bill, he returns it to the house of origin with his objections.

The House and Senate may override the Governor's veto by a vote of two-thirds of the members elected to each body.

If any bill sent to the Governor during the session is not signed by him and is not returned within three days (Sundays excepted) it becomes law without his signature. If the Legislature adjourns before the three days have passed, the bill becomes law unless the Governor, within fifteen days after the Legislature adjourns, files his objections to the bill with the Secretary of State.

 

B. Order of Business - Typical Legislative Agenda.

1. The House and Senate generally follow the same schedule or "order of business" each regular legislative day (note this schedule may change near the end of the session as the Legislature winds down its work):

a. Roll call

b. Prayer by the chaplain

c. Journal committee report

d. Messages from the Governor or the other house

e. Unfinished business

f. Introduction, reading and reference of bills

g. Bills of other house on first reading

h. Reports from standing committees

i. Reports from select committees

j. Bills on second reading

k. Bills on third reading and final passage

l. Consideration of bills on general file

m. Special orders and committee announcements

n. Adjournment

On a typical legislative day during the course of the session it is common for the legislature to recess for lunch between third reading (agenda item k) and committee of the whole (agenda item l.)

2. Standing committees meet in the mornings before the House and Senate convene, in the late afternoons or evenings following adjournment and sometimes during the noon recess. A schedule of committee meetings for each day is available by 3:00 p.m. on the preceding business day.

3. In planning your visit to the Legislature, consult the House and Senate calendars in advance to determine when bills of interest have been scheduled for debate.

 

IV. FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS.

A. Copies of Bills and Amendments.

WHERE DO I GET COPIES OF BILLS?

Outside the Capitol. Copies of all bills are sent to each county clerk and to each county library in the state for public use.

Members of the public may obtain copies of bills from the LSO by mail, for a nominal copying charge plus postage.

Computer Access. Computer access to the text of bills is available to individuals outside the Capitol via the legislative Web site (http://legisweb.state.wy.us).  For more information on the legislative Web site see Section I C. of this booklet.

In the Capitol.  If you merely wish to read the text of a bill, a full set of bills is maintained on tables in the Capitol rotunda.  You may also obtain your own copy of a bill, for a nominal charge, by contacting the LSO.

DO I HAVE THE RIGHT VERSION OF THE BILL?

It is important to note that bills are often revised and reprinted in different versions during the course of the session. For example, a standing committee may so heavily amend a bill that a "substitute bill" incorporating all the committee's proposed amendments is prepared. This version of the bill will have the designation "Substitute No ____" in the upper right-hand corner of the first page. Similarly, if a bill is amended in the first house, it is "engrossed" (reprinted with all adopted amendments) before it is sent to the second house. The engrossed bill is reprinted on different colored paper than the original "introduced" version of the bill.

If you have difficulty "tracking" a proposed amendment into the text of a bill, it may be that you do not have the most recent version of the bill.

WHERE DO I GET COPIES OF AMENDMENTS?

Computer Access. At the close of each legislative day the text of each amendment adopted that day is available to individuals outside the Capitol via the legislative Web site (http://legisweb.state.wy.us).  For more information on the legislative Web site see Section I C. of this booklet.

In the Capitol. Printed copies of amendments adopted the previous legislative day are available the following morning at the information desk in the rotunda and at various locations throughout the Capitol.

Pending Amendments. Amendments which have not yet been acted upon but which have been prepared and distributed to Legislators are generally available through the office of the staff supervisor in the House and Senate.

 

WHERE DO I GET COPIES OF ENROLLED ACTS AND CHAPTERS?

Enrolled Acts. Following final adoption by the House and Senate, bills are "enrolled" (reprinted with all adopted amendments including any amendments contained in a joint conference report) and presented to the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate for signature. This version of the bill is referred to as a "House Enrolled Act" or a "Senate Enrolled Act." Note that this version of the bill is subject to further action, i.e., approval or veto by the Governor and possible veto override attempt.

Chapters. Following final approval by the Governor (or following a successful attempt at a veto override) enacted bills are printed in their final form and are referred to as enacted "Chapters."

Outside the Capitol. Copies of Enrolled Acts and Chapters may be obtained from the LSO by mail, for a nominal copying charge plus postage.

Computer Access. Computer access to the text of Enrolled Acts and Chapters is available to individuals outside the Capitol via the legislative Web site (http://legisweb.state.wy.us).  For more information on the legislative Web site see Section I C. of this booklet.

In the Capitol. Copies of Enrolled Acts and Chapters may be obtained from the Legislative Service Office for a nominal copying charge.

B. Bill Status.

HOW DO I GET BILL STATUS INFORMATION? (i.e., INFORMATION ON WHAT HAS HAPPENED TO A BILL SO FAR AND WHERE IT IS IN THE "PROCESS.")

Outside the Capitol. Individuals may use an in-state toll-free telephone number to receive bill status on a maximum of five bills per telephone call.  This is a limited service which allows the caller to determine the current status of a bill but not information concerning the contents of the bill.  The number is 1-800-342-9570 (out-of-state number 307-777-6185).

Computer Access. Shortly after adjournment at the end of each legislative day, information contained in the Calendar and LSO Bill Status Report (described below) is available to individuals outside the Capitol via the legislative Web site (http://legisweb.state.wy.us).  For more information on the legislative Web site see Section I C. of this booklet.

Inside the Capitol:

(1) Computer bill status. Individuals who are in the Capitol while the House and Senate are in session can obtain bill status information at the computer information terminal located in the basement.

(2) Calendars. Following the close of business each legislative day, both the House and Senate prepare a Calendar listing: bills scheduled for second and third reading on the following day; bills reported out of committee and on general file; and committee meeting notices. Copies of the Calendar are available each morning, free of charge, at the information desk in the Capitol rotunda.

(3) LSO Bill Status Report (purple sheet). LSO prepares a daily status report listing the last action taken on each bill and whether the bill is scheduled for further action on the day of the report. Copies of the purple sheet are available each morning, free of charge, at the information desk in the Capitol rotunda.

C. Committee Meetings.

WHEN AND WHERE DO THE COMMITTEES MEET?

Standing committees meet in the mornings before the House and Senate convene, in the late afternoons or evenings following adjournment and sometimes during the noon recess. A few committees meet each legislative day while others meet every other day.

Committee meeting rooms are scattered throughout the 2nd and 3rd floors of the Capitol building.  To locate a particular committee room, contact the information desk in the Capitol rotunda or consult the map in the Qwest/Wyoming Trucking Association Directory available at the information desk.

 

HOW DO I FIND OUT WHEN A COMMITTEE WILL MEET TO CONSIDER A PARTICULAR BILL?

Computer Access. Shortly after adjournment at the end of each legislative day, information contained in the House and Senate Calendar, including meeting notices, is available to individuals outside the Capitol via the legislative Web site (http://legisweb.state.wy.us).  For more information on the legislative Web site see Section I C. of this booklet.

Inside the Capitol:

(1) Meeting notices. Standing committees generally provide advance notice of meetings at which bills will be discussed. Notices are normally posted by 3:00 p.m. on the day before the meeting is to be held. Meeting notices are posted outside the House and Senate chambers (and on the door of the meeting room for each committee) and are published in the House and Senate Calendar.

(2) Calendars. Following the close of business each legislative day, both the House and Senate prepare a Calendar listing committee meeting notices. Copies of the Calendar are available each morning, free of charge, at the information desk in the Capitol rotunda.

 

WILL I BE ALLOWED TO PRESENT TESTIMONY AT COMMITTEE MEETINGS?

For each bill under consideration, committees will generally schedule at least one meeting at which public testimony is solicited. If you are unable to attend the meeting in person on the day the bill is being discussed, you may provide written testimony which may be left with the committee secretary.

A brochure is available in the LSO which provides general information to members of the public explaining how to make a presentation to a legislative committee.

 

I HAVE A PHYSICAL DISABILITY AND REQUIRE SPECIAL ACCOMMODATIONS TO ATTEND OR PRESENT TESTIMONY AT A COMMITTEE MEETING. WHOM DO I CONTACT?

Contact the Staff Supervisor in the House or Senate or the LSO as far in advance of the meeting as possible. Arrangements can be made to provide an interpreter for persons with hearing impairments or to provide information through audio means for persons with visual impairments.

 

DO I HAVE TO REGISTER AS A LOBBYIST?

A citizen appearing at a committee meeting as an individual to express his own views does not need to register as a lobbyist.

You need to register with the Secretary of State's Office (1st floor of the Capitol Building) as a lobbyist only if you are representing an organization and you are receiving reimbursement for expenses or compensation as a lobbyist.

 

D. Contacting Legislators During the Session.

HOW DO I CONTACT MY LEGISLATOR FROM HOME TO LEAVE A MESSAGE OR TO EXPRESS MY OPINION ON A BILL?

During the legislative session, constituents are encouraged to use the Voter Hotline (Phone 1-866-996-VOTE) to call and recommend a vote for or against a particular piece of legislation.  While it is not possible to speak directly with a legislator on the Voter Hotline, the message will be delivered more quickly than by calling any other number at the legislature.

Personal telephone messages may be left by calling the House or Senate receptionist at the number listed in the Qwest/Wyoming Trucking Association directory.

I'M IN THE CAPITOL AND WISH TO SPEAK TO MY LEGISLATOR. WHERE DO I GO?

Individuals wishing to speak personally to a legislator while the House or Senate is in session can present a written message to the receptionist or doorman in the House or Senate lobby.  The message will be delivered on the floor by a Page and the legislator can determine whether he is able to leave the floor to meet in the lobby with the individual.

 


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