State asks Hill to prepare for return to office

2014-04-08T08:00:00Z 2014-04-08T15:10:09Z State asks Hill to prepare for return to officeThe Associated Press The Associated Press
April 08, 2014 8:00 am  • 

CHEYENNE -- The state is asking Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill to prepare to return to office.

In a filing Monday, the Wyoming Attorney General’s office said it agrees with Hill on most matters regarding Senate File 104 -- the bill that stripped the superintendent of most of her powers before being declared unconstitutional earlier this year.

The attorney general's office asked Hill’s lawyer, Robert DiLorenzo, to sign a proposed stipulated partial order to set aside most changes made by SF 104, often called the “Hill bill,” and return Hill to office.

“The state believes it best to restore those provisions upon which there is agreement without delay,” Attorney General Peter Michael wrote to DiLorenzo regarding the order.

The exact timeline that would be established if both sides sign the proposed order is unclear.

“I will discuss it with my clients and see what they want to do,” DiLorenzo said of the proposed order.

Hill was removed from the state Education Department and replaced with an appointed director when SF 104 passed during the 2013 legislative session. Hill and Platte County residents Clara and Kerry Powers sued when the bill was signed.

The state Supreme Court declared SF 104 unconstitutional in January.

The state said Monday that it is not seeking to delay returning Hill to her previous office, but it still must follow civil procedure.

“As the state has repeatedly contended, what is needed is a final judgment setting aside what would otherwise remain a valid law,” documents read.

The state asked the court to enter an order nullifying the sections of SF 104 both sides agree are invalid.

A judgment has to be made in district court before Hill can return as head of the department, documents state. But state officials also said work should continue on the five parts of SF 104 that are severable, or that it believes should remain in place.

The provisions are separate from the majority of SF 104 because they do not transfer power from Hill to the director of the Education Department, documents state.

The fate of those provisions could be decided later after oral arguments and a written opinion.

The five provisions are:

Having Hill prepare a report on the general status of public schools for the Legislature;

Having Hill identify professional development needs for schools and teachers and plan up to five regional workshops a year;

Ending the requirement for the State Board of Education to have a paid employee help county officials work on school district boundaries;

Letting Gov. Matt Mead pick half the members of the Professional Teacher Standards Board;

Repealing the authorization for the Education Department to have a lawyer separate from the attorney general’s office.

In a response to the state’s request to keep these provisions, Hill’s attorney previously wrote that SF 104 should not be split into parts. Instead, he argued everything included in the law was deemed unconstitutional when SF 104 was declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.

The state said again in its new filing that the law is severable and that it would be up to Hill’s lawyer to prove that it isn’t, which has not been done.

“The purpose of severability is judicial restraint and preservation of those provisions within the Legislature’s power,” the document stated.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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