CHEYENNE — Perhaps a short course in how to work nice would be in order at the beginning of the next legislative session.
During that briefing, the legislative leaders could instruct the representatives and senators about the rules of conduct that were to be obeyed.
Just getting elected doesn’t protect lawmakers from the power of the leadership.
The need for that agenda is apparent after the events that capped the end of the budget session week before last.
— House Speaker Eric Barlow, a Gillette Republican, asked the highway patrol to investigate alleged threats made by Rep. John Romero-Martinez, R-Cheyenne, against Rep. Andi LeBeau, D-Ethete, and former Rep. Sara Burlingame, D-Cheyenne.
The highway patrol, it should be noted, has a unit that provides security for the Legislature.
This case is confusing and vague. Lebeau and Burlingame said they heard about the death threats from a third party, a lobbyist identified only as someone with a law enforcement background, according to the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle.
— The highway patrol, acting on a request from Senate leaders, evicted Sen. Tom James, R-Rock Springs, from a GOP caucus for refusing to stow away his cell phone. The caucus was closed to the public and press, as are all legislative GOP caucuses. Recording the secret meeting was forbidden.
— The Senate leadership removed Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, from all committee assignments. Claiming Bouchard’s action violated Senate rules, Senate President Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, said Bouchard used intimidating tactics against other senators and the public and supported vulgar and threatening attacks on other Senate members.
An investigation of the allegations by Senate leaders who serve on the legislate management council may follow.
Bouchard’s worst offense, according to Senate observers, was calling Vice President Larry Hicks, R-Baggs, a “slimeball.”
Bouchard and Hicks had a heated exchange over Hicks’ bill, Senate File 102, to prohibit state officials from enforcing any federal regulation of firearms.
Sen. Charles Scott, R-Casper, the longest serving member of the Legislature, recalled the debate.
“Both were on the margin,” Scott said. last week in a telephone interview.
Scott voted against stripping Bouchard of his committee assignments because he didn’t have enough information about the incidents at issue.
A more common approach to misbehavior is for a leader to call a member to the leader’s office to talk.
Scott noted that Bouchard had been a constructive member of the Senate Committee on Labor, Health and social Services, when he was chairman.
The leadership, nevertheless, had to take seriously a complaint against Bouchard filed by Eric Boley, president of the Wyoming Hospital Association, Scott added.
Although it seems like the Senate leaders are handling the Bouchard case backwards, Scott said that under Senate rules, they had to get a vote on the disciplinary action before the Senate adjourned.
Hence, the investigation if approved would come after the action
Neither Scott nor other veterans of legislative sessions could recall a case like Bouchard’s.
The closest thing in recent history was the Feb. 2015 case of former Cheyenne Republican Rep. Harlan Edmond’s ejection from a committee meeting even though he was a committee member.
The committee chairman, Rep. Elaine Harvey R-Lovell, kicked Edmonds out of the meeting because he offered a facetious amendment to a bill that protected gay and transgender people from discrimination making the effective date “when hell freezes over” instead of the usual July 1 effective date.
He also had asked a supporter of the bill why pedophilia wasn’t included in the list of protected people.
He served briefly in the House from Jan 2015 until August 2016 when he resigned after moving out of his elected district.
Edmonds founded a web page that identified RINOS (Republicans In Name Only) in the Legislature.
Bouchard has continued the anti-RINO movement.
Before Bourchard was elected to the Senate, he worked as lobbyist for gun owners. He told me once that the NRA was too liberal.
Described as a firebrand, he was not a popular lobbyist because of his aggressive approach.
Former state Sen. Floyd Esquibel, a Cheyenne Democrat, said Bouchard would finish a conversion with the remark, “We have our sights on you.”
Although it was intended to be a bit intimidating, Esquibel said it didn’t bother him.
Joan Barron is a former capitol bureau reporter. Contact her at 307-632-2534 or jmbarron @bresnan.net
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