Legislature 2024: Working for the local voter important

The 2004 Budget Session of the 67th Wyoming Legislature will convene Monday in Cheyenne, and it was encouraging to hear our local member of the House of Representatives, Dalton Banks, last week firmly state that he is conducting himself as an independent legislator, free of the shackles of the Freedom Caucus or other special interest groups whose mission is to steer legislators and legislation in a particular political direction.
Indeed, a representative’s first responsibility is to his or her district – the people the lawmaker represents, and the solon’s second responsibility is to the State of Wyoming in general.
Of course, such representation is going to reflect the political ideology of the voters who elected the lawmaker, and a representative or senator from Teton County is going to see things differently than a legislator in Big Horn County. But a legislator should not be looking over his shoulder or taking “advice” from an outside source.
There’s an old saying that “all politics is local,” but in the polarized internet and social media age, that’s not really true at all. National politics is pushing its way into state and local politics across the nation, and thus, we see national hot button issues taking the stage and using up valuable time in our state deliberative bodies.
District 26 has had excellent representation in recent years from Elaine Harvey and Jamie Flitner, both of whom put their local community first, and it’s good to see Representative Banks focusing on issues that are important to him and his constituents like mental health services. Kudos to him for supporting permanent funding for the 988 suicide hotline.
Another major issue Banks is taking on for the good of his constituents is the financial pain caused by rising property taxes and electric rates. It’s unclear what the legislature could do about Rocky Mountain Power rates, with rate control vested in the Wyoming Public Service Commission, but Banks supports House Bill 45, which would cap annual property tax increases at 5 percent.
Of course, the primary task of the legislature this session is to pass a constitutionally mandated balanced budget, which in challenging financial times will require a lot of hard work to crunch numbers and engage in some good, old-fashioned horse trading with fellow legislators.
The balance-the-budget battle begins next week. Here’s hoping that wise lawmakers rise above partisan politics and work for the best of their community. It’s the right thing to do.
--David Peck