PART 1 – Health Care, Tax Cuts and Education: What to Watch in the 2023 Legislative Session

The Wyoming Truth breaks down the key issues up for debate during next year’s general session

  • Published In: Politics
  • Last Updated: Sep 27, 2022

Wyoming lawmakers will convene at the state capitol building in Cheyenne in January to enact legislation impacting a range of policy issues, including health care and education. The Wyoming Truth examined all 77 of the state legislature's draft committee bills for next year's general session. (Photo via

By Jacob Gardenswartz

Special to the Wyoming Truth

As 2022 winds to a close, Wyoming’s state legislators will soon return to work for a 40-day general session beginning Jan. 10, 2023. With the state budget approved through July of 2024 and legislative redistricting finalized earlier this spring, policymakers are honing in on which issues will top their priorities for next year.

Legislators must first be reelected on Nov. 8 before they can turn their full attention to the business of lawmaking. But as it’s never too early to explore the key issues for the general session, the Wyoming Truth examined 77 draft committee bills under consideration to detail the highlights.

All pieces of legislation currently are in draft form, so the bills are likely to change as committees continue the drafting process. Additionally, only bills sponsored by one of the many legislative committees are publicly accessible at this time. Though bills that are sponsored by a committee historically have higher chances of becoming law, any legislator can still try to introduce a measure during the general session, even if a committee declined to sponsor it.

During the next three months, committee members will continue to meet and deliberate on measures that could come under consideration in 2023. Still, health care, taxes and education are surely ones to watch. Check back for part two in our coverage of next year’s legislative priorities.

Health Care

Though the pain caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has begun to ease, health care issues are expected dominate policy discussions.  

Several measures under consideration pertain to mental health, as Wyoming currently has the highest suicide rate in the nation. In August, members of the Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Committee discussed two draft bills that would enable Wyoming to join interstate counseling and psychology compacts. Such measures, if approved, would allow residents to seek treatment from providers in any of the several dozen states that have signed on to the agreements to date — 14 in the counseling compact and 31 in the psychology alliance.  Advocates argue that the programs would help alleviate the growing need for mental health support in Wyoming by allowing patients to utilize telehealth platforms to seek help out of state.

Also on the docket are policies to extend certain services offered through Medicaid. One measure would target new mothers by extending access to Medicaid-sponsored pregnancy and postpartum coverage for up to one year, well beyond the current limit of 60 days.

But the holy grail for state legislative actions on health care is passing Medicaid expansion enabled by the Affordable Care Act. Wyoming is one of 12 states that has not taken advantage of the provision in former President Barack Obama’s landmark health care law allowing the expansion. The Wyoming Department of Health estimates that expanding Medicaid would grant at least 19,000 additional Wyomingites access to health insurance, and could save the state $32 million in its first year by increasing access to federal funds. But most GOP leaders remain opposed to the Obamacare legislation, and with Republicans expected to retain supermajorities in both chambers, prospects for passage are slim.

The legislature came close to authorizing an amendment to begin the Medicaid expansion process in 2022, but the Senate ultimately failed to reach an agreement. After that defeat, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, which engages in nonpartisan health care advocacy, promised to continue pushing for Medicaid expansion. “[W]here you live shouldn’t determine whether you live,” the organization said in a statement. “It’s long overdue for Wyoming to increase access to Medicaid.”

Taxes and Finance

As property taxes rise statewide, legislators are exploring several measures to help ease residents’ tax burden. During a September meeting of the Joint Revenue Committee in Casper, lawmakers advanced five proposals for relief.

In the short-term, lawmakers are discussing a provision that would give residents the option to pay property taxes on a monthly basis rather than the current system of twice a year. Another proposal would reform the state’s property tax refund program by raising the maximum income threshold so more Wyomingites would qualify.

Longer-term, legislators have discussed bringing a bill to begin the notoriously-difficult process of amending the state constitution to create a certain class of “residential” property, making it easier for them to develop tax exemptions specific to homeowners without impacting agricultural or business properties. If enacted, the provision would still need voter approval to take effect — and it’s unlikely residents could weigh in before 2024.

Lawmakers also are exploring how homes are valued. At present, Wyomingites’ property taxes depend on the current market value of their homes. The revenue committee’s bill would fund a commission to study the impact of shifting to an acquisition-based model. Proponents argue such a change would ease the tax burden for those living on fixed incomes, who may have bought homes decades ago and seen their property values soar.

On the financial side, legislators are again hoping to become the first U.S. state to develop its own virtual currency, also known as a stablecoin. Though lawmakers successfully passed a measure to do just that at the end of the 2022 budget session, Gov. Mark Gordon surprised many by vetoing the bill, citing concerns about the ability of the state treasurer’s office to handle implementation and regulation. Proponents continue to hype possible benefits of establishing a stablecoin, pointing to the potential of increasing state revenues by investing excess digital tokens in U.S. Treasury bonds. But concerns about the major fluctuation in cryptocurrency values this year could dampen prospects at passage.


As the Wyoming Truth has previously reported, declining tax revenues from oil and gas sales, coupled with a growing teacher shortage, have led to a budget crunch impacting the state’s public school system. The problem came to a head last month when the Wyoming Education Association filed a lawsuit arguing the state violated the Wyoming Constitution by failing to adequately fund public schools.

Lawmakers who sit on the Joint Education Committee appear to agree that education funding is an issue, but have not created a plan to rectify the situation. According to Sen. Chris Rothfuss (D-Laramie), who sits on both the Education and School Facilities Committees, many legislators lack the “political will” to do the “right thing” and raise taxes, fearing constituent backlash. That said, committee members met in May to discuss a possible “recalibration” of K-12 school funding, aiming to compensate for declining state revenues and soaring inflation.

More controversially, lawmakers are debating two measures to increase transparency around teacher misconduct allegations amid high profile allegations. One bill would amend the Safe School and Climate Act to clarify that everyone — including teachers and staff — is prohibited from engaging in “harassment, intimidation or bullying.” But another more contentious measure would make portions of teachers’ personnel files public record.

Currently, Wyoming public employees’ personnel files are not accessible to the public. The measure, sponsored by Sen. Affie Ellis (R-Cheyenne), would change that, while maintaining the secrecy of information like home addresses and performance reviews. Ellis argues such a change would strengthen oversight of teacher misconduct; several teacher organizations, including the Wyoming Education Association, argue the measure would compromise privacy and give priority to false accusations.

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