Veteran Wyoming GOP lawmakers face off in Senate District 30 primary

2012-08-12T20:16:00Z 2013-03-21T11:56:11Z Veteran Wyoming GOP lawmakers face off in Senate District 30 primaryBy JOSHUA WOLFSON Casper Star-Tribune The Billings Gazette
August 12, 2012 8:16 pm  • 

CASPER, Wyo. — Two years ago, Rep. Bob Brechtel tried to make it a crime to enforce the federal health reform law in Wyoming.

His bill easily cleared the Wyoming House of Representatives. But when it reached the upper chamber, Sen. Charles Scott killed the bill in committee.

Like Brechtel, Scott opposed the health reform law. But he insisted the bill was as an act of nullification and violated the U.S. Constitution.

"Boy, was Bob mad," Scott recalled recently. "[But] it would have just made us look extreme and silly."

It's not the first time the lawmakers, both Republicans from Natrona County, have been on the opposite side on an issue. They differ on government's role in health care and whether women should be offered ultrasounds before abortions.

Brechtel has represented House District 38 for 10 years. Now, he's giving up his house seat to challenge Scott in Senate District 30.

"It's just a matter of seeing a need for maybe stronger representation of more conservative values in the Senate, both fiscally and socially conservative values," Brechtel said.

Brechtel believes solid conservatives are needed to push back against an overreaching federal government that, in his view, is trampling religious freedoms and free enterprise.

"I stand strong on all of the Republican platforms," he said. "I don't believe [Scott's] actions indicate that he does."

Scott has been a critic of federal health reform and maintains Wyoming must examine regulations that it could do without. But he said he's also shown an ability to work across the aisle to pass legislation -- including the Hathaway Scholarship.

"I can get something done down there and he [Brechtel] can't -- or at least in 10 years, he's never shown any ability to," Scott said.

Scott suspects his decision to kill the nullification bill helped inspire Brechtel to run. The longtime rancher said he had the committee votes to defeat the bill, but chose not to bring it up anyway.

"I'm not a fan of 'Obamacare,'" Scott said. "But there is a lot more effective ways to fight against it than propose unconstitutional nullification acts, which is what he did."

Scott has offered his own program for reforming health care in Wyoming. Healthy Frontiers was designed to control health costs while expanding coverage to more of the uninsured. It used preventative care and incentives to help low-income patients manage chronic illnesses and avoid costly medical problems.

House lawmakers eliminated the program's funding during the last session. Scott doesn't know if it can be revived, but believes at least some of its features -- including its use of health savings accounts -- warrant a further look.

Killing the program didn't eliminate the need, Scott said.

"The 'just say no' strategy, it leaves you with a big group of people, between 15 and 20 percent [of the population], who can afford to pay something to heath care, but can't afford insurance," he explained. "You don't want to turn your back on them. It also costs the rest of us in higher hospital bills."

Brechtel contends government is not the most efficient way to handle health care. He argues the federal health reform law endangers personal rights by requiring insurance companies to cover contraception.

For those who truly can't afford coverage, he suggests a creating a system that encourages Wyoming doctors to volunteer their services in exchange for state assistance on the cost of their malpractice insurance.

"We don't want to throw the poor under the bus," Brechtel said. "We need to start moving in a direction that reinvigorates the free enterprise system to solve some of these problems."

While Brechtel maintains he is an opponent of government involvement in health care, he did sponsor legislation that would have required doctors to offer an ultrasound to women seeking abortions. The bill died before it reached the Senate, but Scott indicated he wouldn't have support it.

Copyright 2015 The Billings Gazette. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

More from the Gazette

Fire destroys Ten Sleep fire station, 5 engines

Fire destroys Ten Sleep fire station, 5 engines

3 hours ago Related

Related

Loading…
Powder epiphany: A weekend in the Teton backcountry

Powder epiphany: A weekend in the Teton backcountry

6 hours ago Photos

Photos

Loading…
Legislators consider the difficult, inane as filing deadline nears

Legislators consider the difficult, inane as filing deadline nears

7 hours ago Photos

Photos

Loading…
Drilling ebbs in the Powder River Basin as oil prices plummet

Drilling ebbs in the Powder River Basin as oil prices plummet

12 hours agoLoading…
Firefighter bargaining changes advance to floor

Firefighter bargaining changes advance to floor

22 hours agoLoading…

Wyoming lawmakers advance plan to raise dropout age

January 31, 2015 5:45 pmLoading…

Wyoming ranks first in financial security

January 31, 2015 5:40 pmLoading…

BLM finds no problem with parts of planned wind farm

January 31, 2015 2:34 pmLoading…
Oil spill near Glendive latest in string of Casper company's pipeline breaks

Oil spill near Glendive latest in string of Casper company's pipeline breaks

January 31, 2015 6:00 am Photos

Photos

Loading…
Just chill: Your guide to ice fishing

Just chill: Your guide to ice fishing

January 31, 2015 5:00 amLoading…

Public lands transfer legislation advances in Legislature

January 30, 2015 7:00 pmLoading…

Bill would let state invest up to $50M for value-added products

January 30, 2015 4:41 pmLoading…

Report: Wyoming gun death rate among country's highest

January 30, 2015 4:36 pmLoading…

State Senate approves sports concussion liability bill

January 30, 2015 3:08 pmLoading…
Senate postpones Medicaid expansion vote

Senate postpones Medicaid expansion vote

January 30, 2015 1:42 pmLoading…

Follow The Billings Gazette

Popular Stories

Get weekly ads via e-mail

Deals & Offers

Featured Businesses