Banks emphasizes legislative successes

Ryan Fitzmaurice

Representative Dalton Banks said he’s leaving his first session as a lawmaker in the Wyoming legislature encouraged by much of the legislation passed in the past few weeks.

“There are some things we got accomplished that I feel are great successes for Wyoming,” Banks said. 

The bills cited by Banks run the gamut across several issues.

The first legislation worthy of recognition, Banks said, is House Bill 103, which restricts crossover voting within the state.

House Bill 103 bars voters from changing their party affiliation after the first day of the candidate filing period.  That means voters won’t be able to see what their candidate options are before deciding which party ticket they want to vote on for primary elections unless people advertise their candidacy before that filing date.

The bill passed the House 51-9-2 before passing the Senate 19-11-1

“That is something I know is pretty popular across the state,’ Banks said.  “We got it accomplished.”

Banks said in an earlier interview that the legislation is not meant to impact the diversity of thought within the party but to stop outside parties, primarily the Democratic Party, from meddling in Republican elections.

“There’s a wide variety of viewpoints in the Republican party, and that’s fine.  We can continue to have those viewpoints, and we welcome that,” Banks said.  “What we need to address is that the other side is trying to infiltrate and be involved in our primary elections.”

Banks also praised the legislature for passing various anti-abortion such as House Bill 152, a comprehensive prohibition on abortion, and Senate File 109, which prohibits chemical abortions. 

“I think that the number one obligation we have as lawmakers is to protect life, and chemical abortions account for the majority of abortions,” Banks said.  “These bills are important for us as a state to come together on and affirm that we protect life.  That’s something that is important to us.  We have shown as a state that we re-affirm that life is precious.”

Banks said the SF109 would not ban drugs that might be used for abortions if used for another purpose.

“That’s worked into the bill,” Banks said.  “These medications are only restricted for abortions and not other medical needs.

Banks praised the passage of Senate File 133, a bill that would restrict transgender athletes from competing on female school sports teams.

The legislation passed the Senate 28-3 and the House 51-10-1.  The ban applies to both middle and high school athletes.

Added to the bill in this session is a provision to create a school activity commission, consisting of five members appointed by the governor, to determine the eligibility of a student in the case that the legislation is challenged in courts or suspended for the period of litigation.

A transgender student could only participate in a gender‑designated interscholastic activity that doesn’t correspond with their birth-assigned sex by getting approval from the commission.

Banks said it’s a matter of the state staying true to federal regulation and protecting female students. 

“It’s not fair to the girls.  Title 9 calls on us to provide an equal level playing field and protect them,” Banks said.  “Without having these restrictions in place, we’re really not living up to our Title 9 obligations.”

Banks next highlighted House Bill 151, the Wyoming prescription drug transparency act.  The legislation has been put forward to rein in pharmacy benefit managers on behalf of local pharmacies.

PBMs act as a middleman between insurance plans, drug manufacturers and pharmacies.

PBMs reimburse pharmacies for the cost of drugs covered by insurer prescription drug plans.  The health insurer, in turn, reimburses the PBM.  Currently, in Wyoming, PBMs have the ability to reimburse pharmacies at a lower cost than what the pharmacy paid to purchase the drug from a wholesaler, limiting the revenue that local pharmacies can gain from prescription sales.

SF 151 will increase the transparency of reimbursement rates and increase those reimbursement rates to local pharmacists.

“We really did our homework and got the legislation passed by the body by a wide margin,” Banks said.  “I really hope the governor is able to support it so we can support our pharmacies.”

The bill passed the Senate 23-8 and the House 40-21-1. 

Banks then praised House Bill 127, which will require healthcare facilities to allow clergy for in-person visits during a public health emergency, granted that the clergy elects to follow any requirements of that facility.

“Nobody will have to die in isolation and suffer through that again,” Banks said.  “We’ve made those visitation rights possible.”

The legislation passed the House 60-1-1 and the Senate 30-0-1.

Banks next praised lawmakers for allowing more flexibility to parents seeking to homeschool their children.  House Bill 70 removes restrictions currently in state law that only permit home-based education to be provided by a child’s parent or legal guardian.  The bill will allow more than one family unit to work together to provide home-based education.

“When I spoke to people around the district and the state, there was a large movement of parents who want more say in their kid’s education,” Banks said.  “I did what parents were asking, and I voted in favor of that legislation.”

Finally, Banks expressed his approval of the passage of House Bill 118, which Banks said would end up placing $9 million of funding into the volunteer firefighter pension fund. 

“Our volunteers don’t take a salary.  They don’t get paid.  They sacrifice a lot for the benefit of our area and the state,” Banks said.  “I just thought this is a small way we can thank them and keep their pension where it needs to be.  We need to do what we can to help them.”