Senate Chambers

Senators work in the Wyoming Senate chambers Jan. 11 at the Wyoming Legislature in Cheyenne. Lawmakers are using CREG report, released early last week, to examine budget issues ahead of Legislature’s winter session.

File, Star-Tribune

CHEYENNE — The Wyoming Senate defeated a bill Monday that would have made audio recordings of legislative committee meetings available online.

House Bill 276 would have required the Legislature’s nonpartisan staff to upload to the internet recordings it currently makes of interim meetings.

Interim refers to the period between legislative sessions, when groups of lawmakers meet in locations across the state to discuss topics of importance to Wyoming and draft legislation pertaining to those issues.

But after passing two of three votes in the Senate, the recording bill failed 17 to 13. The legislation passed the House on Feb. 6.

The director of the Legislative Service Office had testified before a Senate committee that HB276 doesn’t really increase the burden on the staff and that he had already viewed the recordings as public records.

Rep. Eric Barlow, a Gillette Republican who was a sponsor of the bill, said the measure was an attempt to make the work of the Legislature more transparent.

The LSO releases minutes of the meetings, but they are a summary of what occurred, he said.

“You often hear that things are happening and people don’t know about it,” he said. “The best way to shed light on things is an accurate recording of what was said.”

Phoebe Stoner, executive director of the Equality State Policy Center, said she thought the bill would have easily passed.

“I’m really disappointed,” she said. “There’s no financial implications. There’s no staff implications.”

Senate President Eli Bebout, a Riverton Republican, voted against the bill. He said he’s not opposed to transparency. He said he likes the idea and the Legislative Service Office would be able to upload the recordings.

“They can do it without a law,” he said. “We don’t need to have a law for everything we do. A lot of things we just did without laws; that’s the way we used to do it.”

The 64th Wyoming Legislature was expected to adjourn Friday.

Follow political reporter Laura Hancock on Twitter @laurahancock

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Star-Tribune reporter Laura Hancock covers politics and the Wyoming Legislature.

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