Representative Patrick Goggles’ Legislative Report

At the Sunday, April 21, 2013 meeting of the Fremont County Democratic Party, Representative Patrick Goggles joined the group and presented some of his views on the recently concluded legislative session. The following is his written report that he shared with the members.


62nd General Session Summary Report, by Representative Patrick Goggles

Representative Patrick Goggles

Representative Patrick Goggles

The 62ND General Session is now in the books after a 36 day session, leaving 4 days for the 2014 Budget Session. Like previous sessions, each session has its own signature; the signature of this general session can be summed up as the “Hill Bill”.

Having stated that, the 62nd Session was contentious to say the least, new and current conservative legislators spouting re-election & election commitments, no growth pledges and ultra-conservative ideologies brought stand-your-ground politics to the floor of the Wyoming House. In addition aggressive lobbying by certain special interests and anti-federal sentiment among conservative house members contributed to contentious floor debate and questionable maneuvering tactics by special interests to expose certain members of the Wyoming House as unpatriotic.

During contentious debate House Democrats proved to be effective statesmen, led by experienced & strong leadership, the result was our votes counted and made a difference! Being out numbered on the floor and in committee, democrats performed admirably at all legislative levels including Leadership. As you may or may not know the legislative membership of Republican to Democrat is 52 Republican – 8 Democrats in the WY House of Representatives.

Given the unbalanced legislative representation, democrats have worked with due diligence, non-partisan resolve for the good of Wyoming and under these conditions been effective in terms of the minority voice being articulated loud & clear.

Not all is said and done. There were many issues left on the table. Medicaid expansion for one, domestic partnerships, developmentally Disabled waiting lists & waivers, to name a few.  In terms of Wyoming’s fiscal condition, Legislature leadership & the majority party continues to stockpile savings in deference to the needs of the disadvantaged poor, the uninsured children & elderly, in Wyoming.

The Democratic Caucus as an institutional organization met on Wednesdays, in open meeting, to discuss House Bills & Senate Files to organize an inform ourselves of intent, amendments and voting strategies in standing committee and General Session readings.

On Thursdays, the Democratic Caucus met with Governor Mead at 7am to discuss legislation of mutual interest. Our meetings with the Governor were very productive and healthy for the Democratic Caucus.

On Wednesdays at 6:30am the Fremont County delegation (Reps. Goggles, Larsen, Miller, Campbell & Senators Bebout, and Case & Geis) met to inform each other of individual pending legislation, committee testimony, amendments, possible vote outcomes, positions of legislation and to meet with Fremont County constituents.

I individually did not sponsor a house bill.  I took the lead role in Standing Committee & floor management of HB 21 Peace Officer Immunity and SF 162 Authority to take an Eagle legislation. Both pieces of legislation have been signed into law by Governor Mead.  I did co-sponsored 15 house bills and 3 senate files.

As a member of the Wyoming House of Representatives, I am the longest serving Democrat in the House, serving my 5th term. I serve as a member of the Revenue Committee and Management Council.

I have been appointed House Chairman, Select Committee on Tribal Relations by Speaker Tom Labnau, for the 62nd Wyoming Legislature.

Notable legislative topics – 2013 General Session.

Representative

Representative Goggles making his point.

EDUCATION

SF 104 “Hill Bill” – Education – State Administration

SF 230 School Resource Officers

SF 38 University of Wyoming Board of Trustees

HB 91 – Accountability I

HB 72 – Accountability II

HB 63 Adjunct Professor Initiative Co-sponsor

HB 163 Alternative School

HB 177 Hathaway Success Curriculums

TAX

HB 69 Highway Funding

As a member of House Revenue, HB 69 Highway Funding increased the tax on fuel from 14 cents to 24 cents per gallon. I was an “Aye” vote on the legislation.

HB 98 County Fees – co-sponsor with Rep. Glen Moniz (R) Laramie

As a co-sponsor, county fee schedules increased to represent current cost of doing business. I was an “Aye” on the legislation.

FIREARMS

HB 104 Federal Nullification (opposed)

HB 103 local preemption (opposed)

HB 105 Guns in School (opposed)

HB 216 Deadly weapons in a courtroom (“Aye” vote)

SF 132 Silencers, suppressors and automatic weapons (“No” vote)

HEALTH

HB 68 Wyoming Life Resources Center

The Wyoming Life Resource Center, home of 90 of Wyoming's most vulnerable citizens.

The Wyoming Life Resource Center, home of 90 of Wyoming’s most vulnerable citizens.

I and Rep. Larsen amended this bill on 2nd Reading. “Aye” on the bill on third reading.

SF 60 Medicaid Reform

Democrats attempted to amend the legislation to include “Medicaid Expansion”. Our efforts failed but brought debate to the forefront in terms of those opposed to expansion and those in favor. I was an “Aye” vote to amend in the language of Medicaid Expansion.

LAW ENFORCEMENT

HB 21 Peace Officer Immunity (signed into law)

HB 27 Wind River Law Enforcement (died in Judiciary Committee)

LOTTERY

HB 77 Wyoming Lottery

I was an “Aye” vote on the lottery. The legislation very specifically crafted to power ball and state lottery. No video terminals or scratch tickets. Proceeds to Cities, towns & counties for the first six years then to education.

GAME & FISH

SF 162 – Authorized Taking of an Eagle

As a co-sponsor, legislation amends current statute to authorize the taking of eagles by falconers and by permit issued by USFWS. I was an “Aye” vote of the legislation.

SF 118 Eminent Domain 2 (“No” vote)

HB 228 Transfer of federal lands – study (“No” vote)

HB 81 Large Project Funding (NATURAL RESOURCE FUND)

BUDGET

Supplemental / Reductions

SF 105 School capital construction (K-12)

Appropriations

School Finance – amendments

Submitted by Representative Patrick Goggles

 

 

Lies about health care reform are coming home to roost

This story is republished from Wyofile.

By Kerry Drake

April 9, 2013

Remember when, only three short years ago, Americans used the debate over the Affordable Care Act to launch the first serious look at our health care system in decades? People finally put aside their differences long enough to ensure we made the right changes, instead of just what helped their own political parties push their agendas.

No? That’s not the way you remember it? That’s because instead of using this unique opportunity to our nation’s advantage, we squandered it and instead allowed extremists to dictate the terms of the debate, snuffing out all hope that the end product would be something that would guarantee every single American would receive health care, regardless of his or her ability to pay.

In other words, what every other industrialized nation in the world, except ours, already does.

No, instead we were treated to absurd debates about death panels and claims that “Obamacare” would bankrupt us. The tactic succeeded in polarizing different interest groups, as the extreme right-wing was helped by Fox News to ooze outright lies that were picked up and bizarrely given credibility by other news organizations. It led to staged protests at congressional town hall meetings that gave the country an extremely warped view of what the proposed federal health care reform would actually do.

From my viewpoint, as a member of the press who isn’t ashamed to be identified as liberal, the success of leaders of the Tea Party, and much of the Republican Party, distorted the country’s view of the legislation so badly that it forced President Barack Obama’s administration to drop key elements of its plan.

Obama and the Democrats quickly abandoned all hope of ever passing universal health care, then caved in to demands to drop the public option for health insurance. By making concession after concession, Obama disappointed and angered his progressive base while the right unfairly portrayed him as some kind of communist. It was a crazy time in American politics, and the law the president squeaked through Congress and ultimately signed was justifiably criticized by people on the right and the left as a hodgepodge of federal regulations that failed to advance the goal of keeping people from having their life savings wiped out due to health care emergencies.

But now, as several of the law’s reforms have gone into effect and others approach their starting dates, it’s a good time to reassess how the Affordable Care Act has changed health care in the country, and specifically what it’s accomplished in Wyoming.

Judging by a March 20 op-ed piece by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius published in the Casper Star-Tribune, the law has resulted in some positive changes in the health care system that should be applauded — especially since they were so denigrated at the time of passage.

Sebelius makes a valid argument that Wyoming residents who have health insurance have more security now, thanks to new insurance market reforms and consumer protections.

She noted that:

More than 5,420 Wyoming Medicare beneficiaries with the highest prescription drug costs have saved an average of $685 on their medications. That’s a big savings for seniors on a fixed income.
Preventive services such as mammograms and flu shots are now available for free to 136,000 people in Wyoming with private insurance plans.
The Affordable Care Act is curbing increasing health costs by cracking down on waste and fraud, and establishing incentives for hospitals to use their monetary resources more wisely.
Wyoming residents are now protected from some of the worst insurance industry abuses, like lifetime coverage caps that could cut off benefits when people need them most.
“These reforms have already led to significant improvements in health outcomes,” stressed Sebelius. “That includes the first drop in hospital readmissions for Medicare beneficiaries on record, which means when people with Medicare go home from the hospital, they are more likely to stay healthy and less likely to have to return for additional care.”

The act has resulted in $1.1 million in rebates for Wyoming residents by limiting the amount that insurance companies can spend on marketing and overhead.

And the best is yet to come: Beginning in 2014, it will be illegal for insurance companies to discriminate against people with a pre-existing medical condition or disability. On Oct. 1, a new health insurance marketplace will give individuals, families and small business owners a better way to find private insurance plans that fit their respective budgets.

By covering more people in Wyoming, fewer residents will have to go to the emergency room to receive basic health care. This should keep the cost of premiums from increasing as rapidly and also reduce hospitals’ high cost of uncompensated care.

I’m still upset that we don’t have universal health care, but the improvements that have resulted from some of the various components of Obamacare should help make future discussions about such care more civil, as people realize they were duped by the misguided, sometimes shameful anger directed at health care reform. I hope that in the next phase of this long national and state debate, it will lead to the day when universal care finally becomes a reality.

— Veteran Wyoming journalist Kerry Drake is the editor-in-chief of The Casper Citizen, a nonprofit, online community newspaper. It can be viewed at www.caspercitizen.com.

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