During their speeches when the Legislature opened in January, Ross and Lubnau had lamented the deterioration of civility and warned about radical fringe groups and their tactics. They said Thursday they had been prophetic.
Anthony Bouchard, executive director of the Wyoming Gun Owners Association, said later Thursday that he heard the assertion in the House about death threats. He said he asked Capitol Police and was told the officers were concerned about some emails but they were not death threats.
Legislative leaders led a post session news conference Thursday not with a report on the bills adopted but to warn about the attack on the 2013 Legislature by special interest groups.
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Legislative leaders have expressed their outrage over attacks on Sen. Leland Christiansen, R Alta, because of changes he made in a bill aimed at curbing potential federal gun restrictions within Wyoming borders.
"I don't submit to bullying tactics to force legislators to vote one way or another. Our job as a lobbyist is to provide accurate and meaningful information to our policymakers," Picard said.
thing we have is our word and our credibility and our handshake. And that's the way we do business in Wyoming."
"I'm concerned for the future of this institution and for the openness we try to encourage in this capitol because of the actions of a very few people who are doing things not necessarily for the interest of the state or for the interests of better legislation, but to further their own interests," Lubnau said.
"We will not tolerate this type of abusive behavior to our members, and we stand together as an institution," Rothfuss added.
A proposed new law adds electronic messages including emails to an existing law that makes it a crime to make threats of bodily harm or death. Senate File 159 cleared the Legislature this week and awaits Gov. Matt Mead's signature. It carries a penalty of up to one year in prison or a $1,000 fine, or both.
He is a member of the Capitol Club as a professional lobbyist before the Legislature. The club has a code of ethics that, if violated, can result in expulsion from the organization.
House Speaker Tom Lubnau, R Gillette, continued the theme of legislators under siege. When interest groups say to use their language in a bill or they will get even, that's a threat to the legislative process, Lubnau said.
Democratic leaders, Sen. Chris Rothfuss of Laramie and Rep. Jim Byrd of Cheyenne, agreed with the majority leaders.
to themselves or to their families, it is time for civility. It is time for us to act in a better fashion."
WyWatch Family Values is a group that lobbies on abortion and same sex marriages issues, among others. "Every email we sent to our members we instructed our members to be polite and courteous, and the legislators are well aware of that," said Becky Vanderberghe, WyWatch's executive Nike Cortez Green Yellow
Nicholas said he was reluctant to identify the lobbying group, but other legislators have said it was the Wyoming Gun Owners Association.
"I think some of these organizations pursuing some of this legislation need to be sure they're communicating clearly with members," Neal said.
The legislative leaders are "thin skinned," he said. "We've never seen leadership do this before."
"This institution is under attack, and I mean that seriously," Senate President Tony Ross, R Cheyenne, said. "When legislators receive death threats Nike Womens Cortez Nylon Black
"When we Navy Blue Nike Cortez Shoes have individuals outside the process trying to circumvent it, trying to create situations where we have divisiveness, when people will be voted out of office if they make any changes to a bill, we need to move away from that," Rothfuss said.
David Picard, a seasoned lobbyist for many organizations, said it's difficult to come up with a solution because of the First Amendment constitutional right to free speech.
As majority floor leader he decided that there was undue influence on certain legislators, not only legislators cozy with the lobby groups but legislators who were not and that "debate was being stifled."
Ross said Christiansen, a "warrior" with special forces and a former law enforcement officer, received 1,500 emails from gun rights advocates who were angered because of his amendment. Both bills died.
Bouchard said he doesn't coach his members on being civil in writing emails to legislators. "I think they're adults," he said.
"They had plenty of security at the capitol this year," he added. "It's sad to be necessary but it seems they are trying to get ahead of it."
Bouchard also claimed the Legislature changed its rules to require people in the galleries to remain seated because of him. He said he has to stand to record voice votes on bills and was advised he could no longer do that.
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Dan Neal, executive director of the Equality State Policy Center, said the first step should be to look at the laws already on the books to see if the criminal statutes are being violated.
Nicholas said Thursday information apparently was flowing back and forth through Facebook between senators on the floor and lobbyists in the gallery.
"You can't stop people from being stupid, but you can stop them from being criminal," he said.
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