CASPER, Wyo. — A bill which would have exempted the State Loan and Investment Board from following some public meetings rules failed during a first reading vote in the Wyoming House of Representatives on Thursday, Feb. 20 floor session.
The SLIB Board is comprised the Wyoming governor, secretary of state, state auditor, state treasurer, and superintendent of public instruction.
“Did one of the executives ask for this?” House District 25 Representative Dan Laursen asked ahead of the vote.
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House District 09 Representative Landon Brown raised a concern along these lines.
“I totally respect that we have some highly confidential information that is coming before this body,” he said, but asked why the legislators should support the legislation “if none of these five electeds want to come forward and say why [this bill is necessary].”
The bill would have exempted the SLIB board from giving public notice of their meetings “when meeting solely for the purpose of receiving education or training relating to the management of the state’s investment portfolio, provided that the board shall take no action regarding public business during the meeting.”
House District 49 Representative Garry Piiparinen said that the bill concerned him.
“There’s a warning that comes in the back of my head and it is basically, ‘Warning Will Robinson,'” he said. “They should always be in the light and under the scrutiny of the public.”
The State Loan and Investment Board is tasked with managing the state’s permanent land funds.
“The State Loan and Investment Board also administers various statutorily created grant and loan programs that provide funding/finance assistance in the form of grants and/or loans to cities, towns and counties,” the Office of State Lands and Investments explains.
Several legislators pointed out that boards are able to go into executive session in order to discuss topics with information that is legally considered confidential, questioning the need for the legislation.
“This is in situations when you don’t have time to give notice for executive sessions,” House District 08 Representative Bob Nicholas explained.
House District 57 Representative Chuck Gray asked whether the bill had been proposed due to a land purchase in the state which he did not identify.
Nicholas said the legislation was proposed prior to the land deal he understood Gray was referring to.
House District 30 Representative Mark Jennings said the bill gave him some “heartburn.”
“I can see how it would be more efficient for them,” he said. “It seems to me that in a day and age where transparency is very important, even perception is very important.”
“I have a second heartburn with this.”
Jennings said that while the proposed bill would have only exempted the SLIB board from the rules, he could foresee other boards being made exempt from the rules in the future.
On first reading votes, the House first votes by voice. If a bill is passed, a role call vote is not taken.
Because Thursday’s vote failed, the House initially counted the number of representatives for and against the bill. Initially, 17 representatives stood in favor of the bill.
However, when a roll call vote was called, only nine representatives were in favor.
The vote record is as follows:
Ayes: BARLOW, BLACKBURN, FURPHY, NICHOLAS, PAXTON, ROSCOE, STITH, SWEENEY, WILSONWyoming Legislative Service Office
Nays: BLAKE, BROWN, BURKHART, BURLINGAME, CLAUSEN, CLEM, CLIFFORD, CONNOLLY, CRANK, DAYTON-SELMAN, DUNCAN, EDWARDS, EKLUND, EYRE, FLITNER, FREEMAN, GRAY, GREEAR, HALEY, HALLINAN, HENDERSON, HUNT, JENNINGS, KINNER, HARSHMAN, KIRKBRIDE, LARSEN LLOYD, LAURSEN DAN, LINDHOLM, LOUCKS, MACGUIRE, MILLER, NEWSOME, NORTHRUP, OBERMUELLER, OLSEN, PELKEY, PIIPARINEN, POWNALL, SALAZAR, SCHWARTZ, SIMPSON, SOMMERS, STYVAR, TASS, WALTERS, WASHUT, WESTERN, WINTER, YIN, ZWONITZER
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