CHEYENNE — Legislative leaders on Monday unanimously voted for a study of how to undo the state superintendent of public instruction law passed last year that the Wyoming Supreme Court recently declared unconstitutional.

The legislation could result in a special legislative session later this year to deal with the Supreme Court decision and the duties of the superintendent.

The Management Council, comprised primarily of legislative leaders, will sponsor the bill for introduction in the session that opened Monday.

The state high court’s 3-2 ruling said Senate File 104 was unconstitutional because it left Superintendent Cindy Hill with too few powers.

The Legislature passed the bill and Gov. Matt Mead signed it into law because of dissatisfaction about Hill’s administration of the state Department of Education and her alleged failure to follow legislative education mandates.

The bill transferred her authority over the education department to a governor-appointed director.

It left Hill with mostly ministerial duties such as naming the teacher of the year and creating anti-bullying school programs.

The court’s opinion didn’t identify which powers and duties were improperly removed from the superintendent or which duties could be reassigned, the bill reads.

Hill, a Republican like the governor and the legislative leaders, filed the lawsuit and has said she will run for governor this year on the GOP ticket.

The council bill authorizes the Management Council, along with the co-chairman of the Joint Appropriations Interim Committee and the Joint Education Committee and other legislators as needed, to conduct the study and make recommendations for a special legislative session if one is warranted.

State Attorney General Peter Michael has said he will petition the state Supreme Court for a rehearing. Granting a rehearing is unusual, but if permitted by the court, it would put the decision on hold.

If the rehearing is denied, the case goes back to district court for a final order.

The deadline in the bill is for a committee recommendation on changes in the law and a special session would be held 90 days after the district court order has become final.

Council members, including Sen. Bruce Burns, R-Sheridan, said the council is acting in the dark at this point because of all the unknowns.

But Burns was won over by House Speaker Tom Lubnau, R-Gillette.

Lubnau said the council has an obligation to unravel the original Senate File 104 and needs a vehicle — a bill — to do it.

The bill, he said, can be amended to fit whatever is the future situation.

House Minority Leader Mary Throne, D-Cheyenne, said the special session will be necessary in any event because of the budget issues. The 2013 law established a budget for the superintendent separate from the budget for the education department.

The council’s bill will require a two-thirds majority vote to be considered this year.

The bill appropriates $20,000 for the study.

Contact capital bureau reporter Joan Barron at 307-632-1244 or joan.barron@trib.com

(7) comments

Hunter Green

Typical government .....throwing good money after bad. Always love it when they spend money on studies.....arrgghhh. Instead of wasting our money on studies, just do the job!

side oiler
side oiler

This fiasco is reason enough to give the boot to a bunch of RINO wannabe politicians.Vote for a person,not the party.

HONEST ABE

What is there to study? The WSC has ruled the law unconstitutional and invalid. Return the elected office back to the people of the Wyoming.

pappy

Maybe the legislature should have taken time to study the ramification of SF 104 before they allowed Senator Coe and Representative Teeters to ramrod SF104 through in the first place.

Wyoite

If these folks respected the law, the constitution, and an independent judiciary, they'd immediately reinstate the peoples choice.

What do you call a group of men who make up laws that violate the constitution, ignore a Supreme Court ruling, and refuse to let the peoples choice prevail?

Pogo

The "people" made a mistake (not uncommon) in electing C.Hill. The legislature is merely trying to correct that mistake. We elected and selected our legislators to correct such faux pauxs by the people and do it as timely as possible. C.Hill is inept. Her performance, even in only a year or so was based on malfeasance and malfunction. Immediate action was necessary to correct a gross voter error perpetrated by a nonchalant, often times unknowing, lacking in info about qualifications and competence, short on critical thinking skills, and apparently no due diligence and back-grounding as their choice--C.Hill. Too bad-- it needs fixed as time, energy and expertise allows. The legislature is working on it. This can be fixed at least until the proper impeachment proceedings are rendered by the legislature. Likely, impeachment is the final solution to this grossly overblown, emotional and tense circumstance. Government does cost money and errors are made by all parties. This one just needed immediate attention and follow-through. The solution is still ongoing and it appears the legislature is up for the task and the count. Oh, did someone mention politics might be involved --- well yeah. This needs to be solved before this next campaign for governor gets underway.

Sassy
Sassy

Bruce Burns you hitched your wagon to a runaway team of horses.. What are you thinking? I thought you were sharper than that....

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