New Government Watchdog to Hold Alternative ‘State of the State’
CHEYENNE –The start of the Wyoming Legislature’s 63rd general session next week will also mark the beginning of Better Wyoming, a new government watchdog group in the state.
With the long-term goal of enabling Wyoming to be a state with equal economic opportunity for all, Better Wyoming aims to hold our elected leaders more accountable for their decisions. The nonpartisan group’s three-person staff conducts research, improves communication and engages in online organizing, working with its sister organization, Forward Wyoming, a grassroots civic engagement group. Forward Wyoming focuses on developing the state’s next generation of civic leaders through hands-on experiential education opportunities.
On Wednesday, Jan. 14, the two groups will co-sponsor a new event, “The Real State of the State,” after Gov. Matt Mead’s annual address to the Legislature. The governor’s speech at 10 a.m. will be followed at noon by a rally in front of the Capitol that will feature state legislators and other civic leaders who will present a vastly different view of the critical problems facing the state and offer alternative solutions.
Speakers will include Rep. Mary Throne (D-Cheyenne), the House minority floor leader who is beginning her fifth term, and freshman Rep. Charles Pelkey (D-Laramie). Among the topics they will address include Medicaid expansion, proposed increases in the state minimum wage and the need to use some of Wyoming’s nearly $2 billion “rainy day account” to fund critical state priorities.
Forward Wyoming organizer Chris Bell said the rally will highlight the growing disconnect between many state lawmakers and the constituents they represent.
“Following an election cycle that saw the worst turnout of registered voters in at least 35 years, we are looking to keep the people of the state involved in the processes that influence their lives,” Bell explained. “In many instances, we feel as though the people have given up on holding politicians accountable.”
Better Wyoming’s new website betterwyoming.org will offer in-depth coverage of the 40-day general legislative session, and will feature the daily political blog WyPols, an often irreverent but informative look at the daily activities at the Capitol.
Better Wyoming is one of 23 state partners of ProgressNow, the fastest growing state-based online organization in the country.