Participating in Wyoming Government
HOW TO PARTICIPATE IN THE LEGISLATIVE PROCESS DURING SESSIONS
The Wyoming Legislature offers a variety of services to help Wyoming residents actively participate in legislative sessions, whether you are in the Capitol in your hometown, or anywhere in the world! Use the following links to the Wyoming Legislature's website for detailed information on how to participe in Wyoming's legislative process
Guidelines for Attending Legislative Committee Meetings
How to Participate During the Legislative Session
Glossary of Legislative Words and Terms
STREAMING AUDIO OF LEGISLATIVE PROCEEDINGS
Live and archived audio proceedings of the Wyoming Senate and the Wyoming House of Representatives are available on the Wyoming Legislature’s Web site. A link will be prominently displayed on the Web site when the session begins that provides the option of listening to live proceedings, if the House and Senate are convened, and an archive of daily legislative proceedings. If you are having trouble hearing sound on your computer when the House or Senate are in session, please click on the Audio Troubleshooting Guide for assistance. The system will not stream live audio when the House and Senate are adjourned, at recess, or at ease for more than 15 minutes.
Commonly Asked Questions:
How do I find what bills are being considered and changes to the bill?
One of the first steps in getting involved is learning more about what bills are being considered during this year’s session. Once the legislation is assigned a bill number, the text of each bill is posted on the Legislature’s Web site. This information can be found by going to the homepage and clicking on the “2012 Bill Tracking Information” link, then the “2012 Bills” link. From this page, you can sort all of the bills by the bill number, catch title or sponsor headings. There are also drop-down menus on the top of the page that allow you to sort through House Bills, Senate Files or both. The grid on this page will display where each bill is in the legislative process and give the text in its latest version. If a bill has passed one house with amendments a link will be displayed in the “Engrossed Bill” column with all of the changes to the text from the first chamber. If a bill has been passed in both the House and Senate, a second link will appear in the “Enrolled Acts” column with all of the changes that occurred to the bill throughout the process. Amendments that are being considered are linked in the “Has Amendments” grid for each bill.
How do I contact my legislator on a particular bill?
The public has access to a variety of resources, including the Web site, to express opinions to Wyoming senators and representatives about public policy. Contact information, including e-mail address, telephone numbers and mailing address for each legislator can be found by clicking on the “Members of the House of Representatives” or “Members of the Senate” link located on the homepage. Most of the legislators use laptops throughout the session, so e-mail is one of the most effective ways to communicate with legislators. Biographical information for each legislator and what district they represent is also available in this section.
How will I know when a bill is scheduled for consideration?
To actively participate in the process, you need to know when standing committees of the Senate and House of Representatives are meeting and when floor action on a bill is scheduled. Calendars for floor proceedings in the Senate and House of Representatives are posted on the Legislature’s Web site in the late afternoon for the next day’s floor proceedings in each chamber. The calendars include the legislation under consideration and the general order of business. These calendars can be found by clicking on the “Session Activities” link on the homepage. There you will find a variety of links including the Tentative Schedule of Key Events, Standing Committee Schedule, and the Daily Calendar of the House and Senate.
Can I listen to the floor proceedings even if I’m not at the State Capitol?
Yes, both the House and Senate floor proceedings are streamed live on the Legislature’s Web site. You can listen to the House and Senate debate whenever each body is in session by clicking on the “Audio Broadcasts of the 2012 Session” link on the homepage. There you will find a link for both Windows and MAC users for the House and Senate proceedings. You may also listen to archived broadcasts from any of the previous days’ action. If you are having any trouble with the sound, you can click on the Troubleshooting link. Keep in mind that if the bodies are adjourned, at recess, or at ease for more than 15 minutes, that the live feed will not work.
How do I track the status of bills in the legislative process?
This information can be found by going to the homepage and clicking on the “2011 Bill Tracking Information” link, then the “2011 Bills” link. On the bill grid, there is a column called “Journal Digest” for each bill that provides all of the previous actions on each bill. The journal digest includes the date actions were taken on the bill, all roll call votes related to the bill, and the text of all amendments offered regarding the bill. You will also find a link on the “2012 Bill Information” page titled “Bill Status Report,” that provides an aggregated listing of all bills and the latest action on each bill.
Is information available about how legislators voted and how quickly is that information available?
Current technology allows the Wyoming Legislature to post roll call votes almost in real time. You can find out how legislators vote on every roll-call vote taken during this year’s session. This information is available within several minutes after each roll-call vote. Users should click on the “2012 Bill Tracking Information” link on the homepage and then on the “Roll Call Votes on Bills and Amendments” link. On the top of the page select Floor Votes or Committee Votes from the dropdown menu. Then, select whether you would like the votes on House Bills or Senate Files. A list of all bills will then display below. Once you have selected the bill you want to review, the actions that were taken, as well as the day the actions were taken will display in the main section of the page. Click on the “View Vote Detail” link to see how each individual legislator voted. This electronic voting system has been recognized by the National Conference of State Legislatures as one of the most robust systems in the country providing almost real-time public access to voting information for the residents of Wyoming.
Do I Have to Register as a Lobbyist Before I Speak?
If you are speaking on your own behalf, you do not have to register. If you are representing a group or organization, you do. The Secretary of State handles lobbyist registrations.
What Does it Mean to “Address the Chair?”
This procedure is to ensure an orderly flow of discussion at a legislative meeting. Since the chairman controls the meeting, all comments, questions, and responses must go through the chairman. Anyone who wishes to speak -- committee members, witnesses or members of the public -- must be recognized and called on by the chairman.
Once recognized, that person starts by saying, “Mr. Chairman,” and continuing with the question or statement. The person talks to the chairman even if the question or the comment is directed to someone else. For example, a committee member might say, “Mr. Chairman, would the sponsor of the bill tell us if an additional appropriation will be required?” The sponsor then would reply, “Mr. Chairman, the proposal would not require additional funding.”
Is the Procedure Similar at Interim Committee Meetings?
Between sessions, the Legislature holds meetings of the joint interim committees where the same standing committees of both the Senate and House meet together. They are held between the regular legislative sessions held in the Capitol building. The joint interim meetings often are held at various communities in the state.
What is the Role of a Legislative Committee?
When a bill is introduced in either the Senate or the House, it is sent to a standing committee for study and to receive public comment. The committee makes an initial determination if the proposal should go forward in the Legislature. The committee can suggest amendments to the bill, approve it for further action by the full Senate or House, or kill it.
What Happens to a Bill When it is Referred to a Committee?
Once a bill has been sent to a committee, the committee chairman will set a date and time for a hearing on the proposal. You can keep track of the committee’s schedule by reading the notices on the committee room door, by following the daily calendar available in the Senate or House Lobby or the Capitol rotunda, or by checking the Legislature’s website (http://legisweb.state.wy.us).
Who are the Players at the Committee Hearing?
A Senate committee has five members; a House committee has nine. The chairman presides over and controls the meeting. A committee secretary takes notes and assists the chairman. Seats are available for the public. Committee meetings are always open to the public.
What is the Order of Business in the Committee Hearing?
When the time comes to consider a particular bill, the chairman will announce its name and number. The sponsor or sponsors will explain the proposal to the committee. Any member of the committee may ask the sponsor questions. Next, other legislators may speak and can be questioned. Then the chairman will ask if anyone in the audience wants to comment on the proposal -- either for or against. That person also can be questioned. When everyone has spoken, the committee will “work the bill.” This is when the committee discusses the proposal, considers amendments and decides if the bill should go forward or be stopped.
Will I be Welcome at Any Committee Meeting?
You will always be welcome at any committee meeting. The members of the Legislature want you to be an active participant in the legislative process. If you are interested in a particular bill, you should be in the committee room when the hearing is scheduled.
What do I Need to do if I Want to Attend a Committee Meeting?
When you arrive at the meeting room, you will need to sign the Attendance Sheet indicating you attended the meeting. You can observe the proceedings, present additional written information to the committee, or tell the members how you feel about the proposal. This is where the citizen can have direct input to the Legislature on any proposed legislation. If you would like to provide written information to the Committee, please fill out the Committee Handout Form when you arrive at the meeting room and give the form and a copy of your handout (including an electronic copy, if available) to the committee staff. Filling out the form ensures that your information will be available to all members of the Legislature. If you would like to address the committee, please stand and address the Chairman after you have been recognized. Then, clearly state your name and the name of the organization you represent, if any, prior to addressing the committee.
How Do I Make an Effective Presentation to the Committee
Stand if you want the committee chairman to call on you to speak.
When the chairman recognizes you, give your name clearly and distinctly and the name of the group or organization for whom you will speak, if any.
Don’t repeat what another speaker has said. If your statement would be the same, simply state that you agree with a previous speaker.
Consider having a handout with a summary of your points. Have enough copies for the committee, its secretary and a few for interested members of the audience. Before you begin, hand all copies to the chairman or committee secretary for distribution.
Please fill out the Committee Handout Form if you are providing written information to the committee.
Information on this page has been provided by the Wyoming Legislative website. For futher information about the Wyoming State Legislature and how you can be active in the legislative process contact:
Wyoming Legislative Service Office
213 State Capitol Building | Cheyenne, Wyoming 82002
Telephone: 307-777-7881 | Fax: 307-777-5466
E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org | Website: http://legisweb.state.wy.us