Wyoming Bill To Limit Public Health Orders Passes Committee

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A bill that would put time limits on public health orders passed a committee vote on Wednesday and is now headed to the full Wyoming Senate.

You can read Senate File 80 here.

It’s sponsored by Senator(s) McKeown, Bouchard, French, Hutchings, James, Kolb, and Steinmetz and Representative(s) Bear, Fortner and Jennings.

The bill would limit statewide public health orders to no more than 30 days unless the legislature voted to extend the order for another 30 days. Lawmakers could continue to order 30-day extensions as needed. Counties would also have the authority to refuse statewide health orders within their borders. Under the bill, the restrictions apply to either orders issued by the state health officer or the governor.

The bill passed the Senate Labor, Health, and Social Services Committee Wednesday by a 3-2 vote. Senators Bouchard, Hutchings, and McKeown (the bill’s primary sponsor) voted for the bill. Committee Chair Sen. Fred Baldwin (who is a physician’s assistant) and Sen. Dan Furphy voted “no.”

Senate File 80 is one of four bills filed this session that attempts to place some sort of limitations on state or local health orders. The others are House bills 56, 98, and 113. The flurry of bills comes in response to what some state residents felt were overbearing and dictatorial health orders in response to the coronavirus pandemic by state health officer Dr. Alexia Harrist.

But defenders of the current system argue that such decisions are best left in the hands of medical professionals rather than elected officials who may lack sufficient training to make such decisions or who may make politically-motivated decisions.

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