CHEYENNE — The Wyoming Legislature gave its final approval Wednesday to a bill that would slightly alter the state’s public health order process, after the House and the Senate reached a compromise to not involve lawmakers in the process.
As amended and agreed upon by both chambers, House Bill 127 would apply only to orders that restrict the movements of non-quarantined individuals, such as those that close businesses or limit gathering sizes. Under the bill, such orders issued at a local level would initially be limited to a lifespan of no more than 10 days, with any extension having to be approved by a corresponding elected body, such as a county commission.
During the session, the bill’s main sponsor, House Speaker Eric Barlow, R-Gillette, repeatedly described his proposal as aiming to bifurcate health-based decisions for people who have contracted a disease from political decisions that affect a broader portion of the population. After the legislation was amended in the House, then the Senate, the biggest difference between the chambers’ proposals was how those orders would be dealt with at the statewide level. While the House’s initial proposal would only allow the governor, in consultation with the state health officer, to extend an order beyond the initial 10-day period, the Senate amended HB 127 to include the Legislature in the process, requiring lawmakers to ratify any extension of a statewide order for longer than 60 days.