Wyoming ranks ____, in terms of population density, with ____ people per square mile.
In 2001, what was Wyoming’s approximate population?
500,000 (494,000 is more accurate)
Wyoming is a very urban state. T/F
F – Wyoming is a very rural state
Wyoming’s economy is most dependent upon what two industries?
Mineral Extraction (Oil, Coal, Natural Gas, etc.) and Agriculture
In recent years, Wyoming has managed a budget surplus. T/F
What company/industry helped fuel Wyoming’s economy in the 1860s?
Union Pacific Railroad
In what ways did the railroad primarily help Wyoming’s economy in the 1860s?
Helped transport coal and cattle
The majority of Wyomingites get their information about the state from what source?
What is the most dominant newspaper in the state?
The Casper Star Tribune
Where does the Laramie Boomerang rank, in terms of state-wide popularity?
What is the most dominant TV station in Wyoming?
Do Wyomingites consider themselves to be conservatives or liberals, for the most part?
Would Wyomingites be described more as libertarian conservatives or social conservatives?
Explain the difference between libertarian conservatives and social conservatives.
Libertarian conservatives are advocates of our liberties as a people. They, therefore, feel that the government should be limited in their restriction of them. Social conservatives are more of what you would consider to be a mainstream conservative, standing for all that most conservatives do.
Where do social conservatives stand, in regard to the following issues: lower taxes, distrust of the federal government, gun control, women’s rights, death penalty, freedom of speech, abortion, and affirmative action?
Lower Taxes – For
Distrust of the Federal Government – For
Gun Control – Against
Women’s Rights – Against (Not really – just more so than liberals)
Death Penalty – For
Freedom of Speech – Against (Again, not really – just more so than liberals)
Abortion – Against
Affirmative Action – Against
Where do libertarian conservatives stand, in regard to those issues shown in Question 20?
Lower Taxes - For (Government shouldn’t restrict our right to make money by taking it)
Distrust of the Federal Government – For (Government needs to keep out and not restrict
Gun Control – Against (It limits our right/liberty to bear arms)
Women’s Rights – For (All people should have basic liberties)
Death Penalty – Against (All people have the right/liberty to life)
Freedom of Speech – For (All people have the right/liberty to speak freely)
Abortion – For (The right/liberty of the mother to choose)
Affirmative Action – Against? (Not sure on this one – But, don’t all have the right to earn
jobs based on their performance, not race? Of course, that same argument could make a case for Affirmative Action, so I’m not quit sure on this one.)
Where do Wyomingites stand, in regard to those issues shown in Question 20?
Lower Taxes - For
Distrust of Federal Government – For
Gun Control – Against
Women’s Rights – For
Death Penalty – For
Freedom of Speech – For
Abortion – Split 50/50
Affirmative Action – Against
What is Wyoming’s claim to fame?
The first state to grant women rights
What is Wyoming’s nickname?
The Equality State
Name four broad ways in which the Wyoming Constitution is similar to the U.S. Constitution.
Both contain a preamble (statement of purpose), declaration (bill) of rights, provisions creating the structure of state and local government, and specific financial limitations and mandates affecting the revenue-raising authority of government on all levels (taxes, etc.)
Name 13 ideas/doctrines, upon which the Wyoming Constitution is built, that are indicative of American culture and other states’ constitutions at the time of its composition.
Popular sovereignty, political equality, republicanism, separation of powers, checks and balances, civilian supremacy over the armed forces, natural rights (including private property), judicial independence, trial by jury, bicameralism, local self-government, allegiance to the Union, and obedience to the Constitution of the United States
In what year was Wyoming’s constitution written?
The Wyoming Constitution is worded almost identically to the U.S. Constitution. T/F
F – Though most issues are worded similarly to that of the federal constitution, there are many issues that are vaguely addressed in the U.S. Constitution that are specifically addressed in the Wyoming Constitution and vice versa.
Give three ways in which the wording of the Wyoming Constitution is different than that of the federal Constitution.
The Wyoming Constitution implicitly accepts the right of revolution, whereas the federal constitution fails to take a stand and leaves the issue vague and ambiguous. The right to bear arms is stated in much broader terms in the Constitution of Wyoming as compared to that of the U.S. Separation of church and state encompasses much more in its meaning in the U.S. Constitution than in the Wyoming Constitution, where it merely refers to the appropriation of public funds to religious organizations and religious instruction in public schools. (Religious instruction in public schools is also prohibited in a much clearer fashion in the Wyoming Constitution, as compared to the federal.) And, equality is left out of the federal constitution, whereas it is repeatedly set forth in Wyoming’s.
Name five ways in which the state of affairs in Wyoming directly affected the framing of the state constitution.
Wyoming’s low population – resulted in the granting of rights to women in the state constitution, in order to lure settlers. The Catholic Church – In Wyoming and the whole nation, many churches, especially the Catholic Church tried to get public funds to fund their religious schools, thus prompting Wyoming to address the issue of separation of church and state from a very financial standpoint in its constitution. The Depression of 1873 – Caused many local governments to go bankrupt, due to heavy borrowing and indebtedness, thus leading many states, including Wyoming, to limit the local governments’ ability to create indebtedness. The Union Pacific Railroad – It was such a big part of the economy in Wyoming at the time that many laws regarding it and other notorious private organizations were drafted to keep such organizations in check, including laws having to do with unions, labor, workers’ safety, child labor, etc. Wyoming’s dispersal of population – The southeast portion of the state was populated so much more than the southwest and northern parts that issues such as county representation were specifically addressed in the state constitution (guaranteeing each county at least one representative, regardless of population). And, the Civil War – Led many legislatures into corruption financial problems during the rebuilding process, thus prompting Wyoming to specifically address additional restrictions on legislative behavior in its constitution.
Name three ways in which a state constitution can undergo changes.
Legislative changes, Judicial changes, and Custom & Cultural or Implicit Changes
Name two ways in which a state constitution can be amended or replaced through Legislation.
Legislative initiative (passing of laws, bills, amendments, etc.) or Constitutional Convention, both with popular approval.
Which one of the aforementioned procedures in Question 32 is more often used for replacing a state constitution entirely?
Which one of the aforementioned procedures in Question 32 is the most common method for amending a state constitution?
What is one example of how a constitution can be changed through the Judiciary branch?
Judicial interpretation of court cases can change the way a certain part of the constitution is interpreted. (An education more “appropriate for the times” is the best example of this in Wyoming)
Give two examples of how constitutions can change through implicit cultural or custom changes.
New laws can emphasize or de-emphasize old ones. Customs can do the same – such as the customary, not mandatory, one year term for the Speaker of the House, which inadvertently weakens the power of the legislative branch. And, the ignoring of old laws can also change the constitution, such as the right of every inmate to a six-shooter and a horse when released from prison.
Why do some consider Wyoming’s constitution to be a product of the “cut-and-paste” method of constitution-making?
The framers of the constitution borrowed heavily from state constitutions from other states, culturally and geographically similar to Wyoming.
Why would some consider the “cut-and-paste” method described in Question 37 to be a problem?
Wyoming’s constitution, as a result, lacks true innovation, aside from only a few areas such as state ownership of surface water rights – where Wyoming apparently truly differed from all other states at the time.
In addition to the criticism mentioned in Question 37, above, cite three other criticisms of the Wyoming Constitution.
The authority in the executive branch has been diffused to five different elected officials, including the governor, which some believe has weakened the executive branch’s power altogether. The constitution contains too many restrictions against the legislative branch, thus slowing down their ability to meet the needs of a rapidly changing economy. And, many consider the constitution to contain too many restrictions, duties, and advice that are simply outdated.
The Wyoming Constitution has undergone many drastic changes since it was written over a century ago. T/F
F – Despite when it was written, the document is still respected as fundamental law in the state, and has, up to this point, held up well.
What is the most basic form of individual participation in a democracy?
Are the levels of political participation in Wyoming higher or lower than those found in surrounding states and the nation?
Give and explain two reasons why political participation levels are higher in Wyoming.
Political Culture – It is simply the custom of the Mountain states to participate in politics. Small Population – Because of the size of the state, people tend to know their political leaders personally, thus leading them to become more involved.
Give three general misconceptions among the populace that would explain low political participation rates in the U.S.
Many citizens do not have confidence in elected officials anyway. Many reason that their one vote will not make a difference anyway. And, many fail to see any difference between the candidates anyway.
The aforementioned misconceptions in Question 44 are the result of what? And, how can this problem be remedied?
Not understanding the political system, Education
Name three ways supported by the Wyoming Constitution that citizens can participate in politics.
Voting for candidates, contacting public officials, and create legislation
In what to ways can Wyoming citizens directly create legislation?
Through initiatives and referendum
What does “initiative” mean?
Initiative refers to the attempt by citizens to write new laws through the petition precess.
What does “referendum” mean?
Referendum refers to the attempt to veto already existing legislation.
How many signatures must an initiative or referendum petition have in order to be placed on the ballot at the next election?
At least 15% of the number of votes cast in the previous general election in each of 2/3rds of the counties.
How many votes must an initiative or referendum receive in order to be passed into legislation?
A majority of all votes in the general election
What happens if a voter simply does not vote on a particular initiative or referendum?
It is counted as a vote against the proposal.
What is the most common topic of initiatives and referendums in the state of Wyoming?
What two features of Wyoming’s initiative and referendum process make it controversial?
The state Constitution permits the state legislature to amend or repeal a statute or law enacted by the populace after two years.
It is counted as a vote against the proposal.
Give two explanations for the recent popularity and success of initiatives and referendums in the state of Wyoming.
The creation of consulting firms that specialize in organizing and conducting petition drives. And, a general dissatisfaction with the government among the populace.
Describe three ways in which political parties provide an important link between the citizen and the government.
They are rallying points for certain standpoints on various issues – i.e. you can get the general idea of what a candidate believes simply be looking at what party he belongs to. They also recruit candidates for office and provide campaign assistance. And, they help organize the government – i.e. the Wyoming legislature decides which legislators will be committee chairs, house and senate leaders, etc.
Which political party has won the majority of state elections?
Give two reasons why. (in response to Question 57)
Which political party has won the majority of state elections?
There are more registered Republicans in Wyoming, and Republicans tend to support their candidates in Wyoming more than Democrats.
In light of the response to Question 58, give three possible reasons why Democrats would occasionally win in such a Republican-dominated state.
First, there are enough independents in Wyoming to swing votes. Second, Republicans’ loyalty to their candidates is not perfect. And, finally, Wyomingites tend to support incumbents even more than their own party – so once a Democrat gets in, he will most likely stay.
Describe party organization in Wyoming.
Precinct Officers (A committeeman and committee woman elected by the voters from each precinct in a county). Then, county chairs (elected by the precinct officers). Finally, county chairs become members of a state central committee who chooses a state party chair.
All voters from a certain precinct can elect that precinct’s precinct officers. T/F
F. The precinct officers can only be elected by the voters from their precinct and who are registered members of that officer’s political party – i.e. only registered Republicans can vote for the Republican precinct officer – Democrats cannot.
Is the connection between party officials and elected governmental officials strong? Give three explanations of why or why not.
No. First, the direct primary gives the voters the opportunity to nominate candidates for public office, not party officials – thus stripping the power from the party officials and decreasing the governmental officials’ dependence and loyalty upon them. Second, Wyoming law requires party officials to support all candidates attempting to run from their party. Finally, elected officials are prohibited by Wyoming law to hire or fire government workers based on party affiliation – this keeps party officials from trying to “get in good” with elected officials in hopes of landing a government job. (The first two keep the candidates and elected officials from caring about the party too much, and the last keeps the party from caring about the elected officials and candidates too much.)
What, then, are party officials’ main duties?
Their duties are limited. They primarily campaign for their party and seek out people who will support their party’s candidates. (Republican Party officials are also allowed to vote in the primaries of the U.S. Presidential elections only. Democratic officials are not, thus making their role even more limited than Republicans’.)
What is an interest group?
A group or organization that looks after the needs of its members. It lobbies at legislative meetings in Cheyenne (or Washington, on the federal level) for the interests if looks after.
What issues are most of the prominent interest groups in Wyoming concerned with?
Those looking out for the needs of the railroad, farmers and agriculturists, environment, public officials/workers, education, and mineral extraction – basically, all of the most prominent aspects of Wyoming culture and economy.
Name a few of the most prominent interest groups in Wyoming and what they lobby for. Also, cite the political party that endorses each the most.
Union Pacific Railroad (railroad and mineral extraction – Republicans mostly, but also many Democrats, as it is the main source of Wyoming’s economy), Wyoming Stockgrowers Association (farmers, ranchers, and agriculture – Split on party – doesn’t seem to follow a specific lobbying pattern), Wyoming Outdoor Council (WOC – environment – mostly Democrats – losing power as of late), Wyoming Public Employees Association (WPEA – government officials – doesn’t seem to be affiliated with a certain party too often – has a lot of power as 1/3rd of their members are right there in Cheyenne, ready to lobby when needed), Wyoming Education Association (Education – Both Republicans and Democrats, maybe slightly more Democratic – very influential as their members are dispersed throughout the entire state – yet, their power is proportionate to the economy – up when it’s up, down when it’s down), Wyoming Taxpayers Association (manual labor, especially, but everyone – very Republican – advocates lower taxes, etc. – quite powerful), many governmental bureaucracies, such as Highway Department, Game and Fish Dept., and University of Wyoming, as well as many others.
In general, with which types of interest groups do Wyoming Republicans and Democrats side?
One who is designated (and registered – see Question 69) to represent an interest group – at legislative sessions, or just in person to executive authorities, etc.
What must a lobbyist do to lobby at a legislative session?
They must register with the Legislative Service Office by giving their name and the organization they represent
Interest Groups and other organizations are prohibited from making direct contributions to political campaigns. T/F
T. In order to make a contribution, they must form a PAC (Political Action Committee), which can then make the donations form them. It’s pretty easy, and you only need two people to do it.
What is arguably the greatest strength of interest groups in Wyoming?
The fact that many of their members are actually in the legislature.
Is there a dominant interest group in Wyoming?
No. The most dominant interest group changes from year to year, depending on the most prevalent issues at the time.
Lobbyists are “cutthroat” in their tactics to promote legislation, often stooping to unethical tactics. T/F
F. They used to be, but since Watergate, they’ve calmed down – perhaps due to the fear of what happened to Nixon happening to them.
Legislatures agree that the least effective way for lobbyists to promote legislation is by donating to legislators’ campaigns. T/F
T. But, do you actually believe that? Besides, the book says contributions have actually risen in recent years. So, obviously, they’re lying – again.
In addition to lobbying the legislature, give three more ways interests groups promote their propaganda.
They often use the initiative process. This includes distributing propaganda to voters. They also donate to campaigns through PACs. Finally, they will lobby individuals and administrating agencies (ethically – like through nice letters or e-mails), such as executive officers and the Governor.
Interest groups, so far, may seem really great, but cite three examples of why interest groups are often opposed, or at least why they often fail.
First, in Wyoming, most people are afraid of any one group becoming too big (fear of big business and/or large government). This keeps any interest group from becoming too large – otherwise they may start facing real opposition. Second, Legislators cannot depend on their political income in Wyoming, as opposed to other states. Therefore, they can’t afford to spend as much time and effort pleasing the people, as they must get back to their real jobs. Therefore, monetary donations don’t work as well on Wyoming politicians as they don’t depend on their re-election to feed their families. Finally, Wyoming legislative process inherently discourages lobbyists and interest groups from giving large donations, as the Wyoming legislature tends to be too slow to get anything passed anyway – due to strict legislative laws and short legislative sessions. Thus, it may not be worth it to an interest group to give out donations so freely.
Give one reason why interest groups are important to legislators, in particular.
As the legislative sessions are short and legislators are short on time (See answer to Question 76), interest groups become valuable to legislators in terms of the amount of information they can provide on their given topic. However, as they’re usually only concerned with a limited amount of issues, they’re information is, therefore, limited to those issues only.
In terms of lobbying and interest groups, what can Wyomingites do to get involved in the political process and influence the decisions their government officials make?
They can join interest groups and even donate to them.
Most Wyoming legislators are “part-time” legislators, in that they live in their home counties and simply assemble in Cheyenne one or two moths a term. T/F
How many years is a House and Senate term in the state of Wyoming?
Two in the House, four in the Senate
How many terms are House and Senate members limited to in the state of Wyoming?
Six terms in the House, three in the Senate (thus, twelve years for both)
Name four limitations the Wyoming Constitution puts on the Wyoming legislature.
The legislature cannot enact laws for the benefit of private individuals or localities. The legislature also cannot meet for more than 60 days every two years. Third, a legislator with a personal or private interest in an bill must disclose his interest and refrain from voting on the bill (but, the legislator, himself, gets to decide when he has a private interest in a bill). And, finally, logrolling is prohibited.
What is the main reason for the framers of the Wyoming Constitution placing so many restrictions of the legislature?
Distrust of the legislative branch.
What is logrolling?
I’ll vote for your bill if you vote for mine.
Give three arguments advocating longer legislative sessions.
The legislature needs more time to deliberate over important issues. The legislature can’t effectively counteract the other two branches of government with only 60 days when they work all year. Filibustering is even more detrimental to bills when there are shorter sessions.
Give three arguments advocating shorter legislative sessions.
Legislators have to get back to their real jobs. Shorter sessions force the legislature to get things done faster in order to show that they’re working. Shorter sessions give the legislature less time to spend money.
Bonus: Give six more restrictions the Constitution places on the legislature.
1. All bills must be referred to a committee. 2. A bill must receive a majority vote from all legislators prior to becoming law. 3. An appropriations bill (how and where to spend money) must be introduced at least five days before the end of the session. 4. A bill must have only one subject (no riders). 5. All bills must have a specified enacting clause (when the bill would go into effect if passed). 6. Bills and votes must be published.
The Wyoming legislature is similar to the U.S. legislature, in that the representation in the House is apportioned according to population, whereas it is apportioned equally in the Senate. T/F
F. Both are apportioned according to population of counties in Wyoming. But, every county does get at least one representative in the House and one in the Senate.
Is representation redistributed, depending on the growth or loss of population in any one county?
Yes, every 10 years with the U.S. census.
Give a brief history of apportionment by population in the State of Wyoming.
Plan 1: Each county is represented by various numbers of representatives based on that county’s population; and that is to be reapportioned every ten years with the U.S. census. Problem with Plan 1: Smaller populated counties were able to get the legislature to ignore the census every ten years. Thus, as the larger counties grew even larger, they still didn’t get more representation. This led to plan 2.
Plan 2: The plan was to simply reapportion the counties based on population. But, there was a snag. The smallest county, Niabrara, for example, may only have had a population of 3000. Thus, in order to give every county representation, one Senator had to represent 3000 people. This would mean giving counties like Natrona and Cheyenne, for example, maybe 9 or 10 Senators. This would increase the total number of Senators in the State to a number that couldn’t even be accommodated at the Capitol in Cheyenne. So Plan 2 turned into a plan where some counties populations were combined with others’ and representatives from both would be chosen as though they were one county. Problem with Plan 2: Small counties, like Niabrara, were so small that the county it was joined with could easily have enough population to elect representatives entirely from their own county, thus leaving Niabrara totally without representation. This led to Plan 3.
Plan 3: Plan 2 remained intact, except Niabrara was given one representative for itself. Problem with Plan 3: Now other less represented counties were ticked that Niabrara got preferential treatment and wanted the same for them. This led to Plan 4, our current plan.
Plan 4: House and Senate districts were created in the state. There are 60 House districts and 30 Senate districts. Each district encompasses the same number of people, regardless of county lines.
Name four advantages of the current system of apportionment in Wyoming.
First, nobody has complained – for once. Second, it’s different than Plan 2 in that counties like Niabrara are not combined with all of its much larger neighboring county. Instead, they are combined with perhaps only a portion of it. That way, Niabrara’s not entirely muscled out. Third, representatives from larger counties are no longer selected from the same area. Under Plan 2, Casper’s 10 Senators may all live within a block of one another. Now, that’s impossible, as the districts are more geographic. And, finally, larger counties no longer have to decide between 18 different candidates running for seven different posts. Now, it’s two or three per vacancy, as there is only a few posts in each district.
Incumbent representatives in Wyoming have a high probability of being re-elected. T/F
What is the maximum number of years that a state representative and state senator may hold state office?
12 for each.
Legislators tend to be younger, from higher socio-economic groups, and male. T/F
F. They tend to be older, from higher socio-economic groups, and male.
Give two reasons why Congress and most state legislatures, including Wyoming’s, have few members engaged in blue collar occupations.
First, “high-prestige” occupations tend to translate into more votes on Election Day. Second, generally, persons from “high-prestige” occupations tend to make more and have more flexibility allocating their time.
Give three reasons why Wyoming currently ranks 37th in the percentage of women legislators, when it once ranked 3rd (in 1985).
First, women candidates have made very large strides in other states. Second, women are not held in as high favor (considered able in government) as they once were in Wyoming (a/k/a tradition). And third, before the reapportionment, one county may elect four or five candidates to office. But, after reapportionment, each voting district only elects one, and they don’t seem willing to spend their one vote on a woman.
What is the primary function of state legislature?
To make laws and appropriate governmental funds.
What are some other functions of state legislatures?
To oversee the operations of the executive branch, confirm or reject gubernatorial nominations, propose amendments to the State Constitution, ratify amendments to the federal Constitution, and decide whether or not governmental officials will be impeached and removed from office.
List, in order, the eight stages a proposed bill goes through before becoming law.
1. First Reading 2. Committee Consideration 3. General File 4. Committee of the Whole 5. Second Reading 6. Third Reading 7. Conference Committee (if needed) 8. Governor
Describe each of the seven stages discussed in Question #97.
1. First Reading – The bill is read to the entire legislature. 2. Committee Consideration – The bill is referred to a standing committee, chosen by the Speaker of the House or President of the Senate, who then review the bill to see if it is realistic. 3. General File – The bill is then placed in a general file to await the Committee of the Whole. The majority leader decides when to move the bill on. If he doesn’t ever pull it, then obviously, the bill dies. 4. Committee of the Whole – The bill is now up for debate/discussion among the whole legislature, not just the standing committee. 5. Second Reading – serves absolutely no purpose except to fulfill the State Constitutional requirement that a bill be read three times. 6. Third Reading – The bill is voted on in the chamber. 7. Conference Committee – The bill is passed on to this committee, made up of two legislators in favor of the bill and one who is not, each appointed jointly by the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, for revisions if it was passed in one chamber but not the other. 8. Governor – He either passes it or vetoes it.
A bill can only die during the Third Reading when all legislators vote upon it. T/F
F. A bill can die at any level of the process described in Questions #97 & 98.
How many days does the Governor have to decide whether or not to veto a proposed bill?
How many votes are needed in the legislature to override a gubernatorial veto?
What happens if the Governor vetoes a proposed bill after the legislative session has ended?
Tough luck. It’s vetoed and the legislature can’t override it.
What is the average passage rate for proposed bills at a typical state legislative session? What is it for a typical session of Congress?
At what stage do most proposed bills die? What stage is 2nd?
Committee Consideration or Standing Committee. General File – the majority leader just doesn’t pull the ones he doesn’t like until there’s no time left in the session.