School transparency bill dies in committee

By: 
Alexis Barker, NLJ News Editor

The Weston County School District No. 1 board of trustees applauded the death of the Civics Transparency Act, a bill that would have required teachers to post their class materials online for public view. 

Senate File 62 died in the House Education Committee, on a 4-5 vote, on March 8 after passing out of the full Senate with an 18-12 vote on Feb. 28. The bill was sponsored by three of the four Weston County legislators: Rep. Chip Neiman, R-Sundance; Sen. Cheri Steinmetz, R-Lingle; and Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower. 

The bill’s failure to advance followed testimony by several speakers criticizing the unnecessary burden it would place on teachers. 

On the day of the bill’s demise, Superintendent Brad LaCroix said that its rejection was respectful of Wyoming teachers’ time. He added that the bill was attempting to address a problem that didn’t necessarily exist. 

“I don’t ever remember people wanting to know about our textbooks or whether
they are offensive,” LaCroix said. “I don’t know where the fight is.” 

According to LaCroix, anyone interested in what is taking place in the schools is welcome to contact the district to schedule a visit. He said that the doors are open to parents, community members, stakeholders or legislators. 

“If someone has a concern, let’s go for a walk. I’ll even buy lunch,” LaCroix said. “We don’t need a transparency bill. There is nothing to hide.” 

“All they have to do is let us know, we can go look at whatever they think is a concern,” he added. 

He noted that anyone wanting to visit the schools should probably prepare to spend a day visiting. 

“It doesn’t do much justice to run through a school in an hour to get the climate and purpose,” LaCroix said. 

Tina Chick, chair of the school board, noted that the hour spent in the schools with Gov. Mark Gordon last month did not allow for enough time to get an accurate picture of what is happening in Weston County schools. 

LaCroix did clarify that schools in the district are secure, as well as open, but that individuals who want to visit the schools should reach out in advance to schedule a visit. 

“We can look at anything you want to look at,” he said.

 

House Bill 107: This bill provides additional funds for state-match funding sources for the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund and Clean Water State Revolving Fund. For the clean water fund, this bill allows the state to use approximately $132 million in federal infrastructure grants allocated to the state from 2022 to 2026. The drinking water fund will allow for the state to use roughly $453 million in federal infrastructure grants from 2022 to 2026. 

This bill is awaiting Gov. Mark Gordon’s signature. 

Senate File 67: This bill provides state funding for capital construction, with approximately $190 million in projects. The projects include maintenance of the Wyoming State Capitol, appropriations for the Wyoming National Guard’s Camp Guernsey, the Veterans Home, the Territorial Prison, the Riverton Fire Academy and other facilities in the state. 

This bill was signed by the governor on March 10. 

Senate File 80: The Omnibus water bill provides $46.6 million for water development projects; authorizes construction of designated water projects; describes projects and specifies terms and conditions for funding projects. 

This bill is awaiting the governor’s signature. 

House Bill 31: This bill created the Wyoming’s Tomorrow Scholarship Program, a new endowment fund providing scholarships for nontraditional students. 

This bill was signed by the governor on March 11. 

House Bill 89: This monthly ad valorem tax revision enforcement bill allows for the regulation of oil and gas production by the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission on producers until unpaid taxes are paid.

This bill is awaiting the governor’s signature. 

House Bill 42: This bill provides $105 million in funding for cities, towns and counties. 

This bill is awaiting the governor’s signature. 

Senate File 102: The Second Amendment Protection Act restricts Wyoming officials from the enforcement of federal mandates that infringe on the Second Amendment. 

This bill is awaiting the governor’s signature. 

House Bill 92: This bill would ban abortions in Wyoming should U.S. Supreme Court overturn Roe v. Wade. 

This bill is awaiting the governor’s signature. 

House Bill 96: This bill increases the salaries for state elected officials following the upcoming election. 

This bill is awaiting the governor’s signature.  

Senate File 1: The general government appropriations bill was passed by both the House and Senate. Gov. Mark Gordon vetoed several line items. 

Senate File 66: The American Rescue Plan Act appropriations bill passed both the House and Senate before having several line items vetoed. 

Senate File 98: Gov. Mark Gordon vetoed the federal emergency COVID-19 relief funding-limitations bill.

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