CASPER -- Elected officials with the letter “R” after their names now face censure by members of their own party who live in Natrona County.
On Saturday, the Natrona County Republican Party passed a measure that spells out how they will be censured: Their actions have to be fundamentally inconsistent with state party beliefs. After the action that Republicans find upsetting, they can be condemned at the next state Republican Party meeting.
No one in particular was censured at the meeting at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel, although during its debate there was shouting. Just a week before, Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, narrowly escaped censure by the Park County GOP at its county convention.
Insurgent Republicans throughout the state, including many who are tea party members, are furious with establishment Republicans for stripping control of the Wyoming Department of Education from Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill. In a ruling in late January, the Supreme Court called that action unconstitutional.
The Natrona County resolution passed with 33 precinct committee members for it and 26 against – but not without passionate debate. The county convention was for Republicans to debate bylaws -- rules for how the county organization works -- platforms, which are long-lasting beliefs, and resolutions, which are more finite statements of belief.
The convention lasted six hours, relatively speedy for a county convention. Park County Republicans said their March 22 county convention lasted 10 hours.
Rep. Tom Reeder, R-Casper, also supported the measure.
“Unless you’re doing something wrong, I don’t’ see why you would be against this,” he said.
Sen. Bill Landen, R-Casper, opposed the measure because not every issue is black-and-white, he said. An example was the 2013 failed bill that would have required welfare recipients to be tested for drugs, he said. In that case, Republicans had to choose between rights of privacy and property and a party platform that supported drug tests, he said.
“There’s an elephant in the room,” he said, referring to his awareness that people were upset about the Hill incident.
But the Legislature is working to correct it, Landen said. He said the Republican values of promoting ethics and responsibility and getting rid of alleged malfeasance were important considerations for him when he voted for the bill.
That caused another Republican to shout that Landen was slandering Hill. Landen responded that he used the word “alleged.”
Other measures adopted by the party at the county convention:
*The party wants email addresses of elected officials to be listed on the state’s website.
Kara Linn said she supported the resolution in response to a proposal by House Speaker Tom Lubnau, R-Gillette, who wanted the public to email legislators through an online form. Linn said that would limit the public’s access to lawmakers.
Lubnau told the Star-Tribune that his proposal was made before the Management Council, a group of leaders who make rules for the House and Senate, and that the proposal had failed.
Political organizations sometimes tell their members to cut and paste a form letter and send it to their lawmakers, Lubnau said.
“It’s not to disenfranchise folks,” he said. “We get repeat copies of 150 or so emails, and then we don’t read them.”
*The party opposes the introduction of refugee camps or participation in refugee resettlement programs in Wyoming.
Wyoming is the only state without a formal refugee resettlement program. Gov. Matt Mead and others are trying to learning more about refugees and evaluating options to possibly create a plan in Wyoming for refugee resettlement.
* The party opposes recognition of same-sex marriage.
Earlier this month, seven state Republican lawmakers said they thought same-sex marriage aligns well with values such as strengthening families and freedom.
* The party believes the phrase “one nation under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance is a basic foundation of Wyoming and the U.S. It believes the country was founded on Judeo-Christian values.
* The party believes the state should not subscribe to Common Core, the bipartisan set of educational standards, or receive federal funding to adopt such standards.
* The party supports the total repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
* The federal government should transfer public lands to the state.
Wyoming lawmakers are studying how to take back federally controlled lands. Many point to historical documents that indicate the lands were promised to the Wyoming when it became a state.
The measures passed Saturday will be official platforms, resolutions and bylaws in the county party. They also will go to the party's state convention in Evanston in May and could be adopted by the state party, Natrona County GOP Chairwoman Bonnie Foster said.