Wyoming lawmakers say schools chief bill wasn't fast-tracked

2013-02-09T22:00:00Z 2013-04-26T19:33:06Z Wyoming lawmakers say schools chief bill wasn't fast-trackedBy ELYSIA CONNER Star-Tribune staff writer Casper Star-Tribune Online
February 09, 2013 10:00 pm  • 

State lawmakers who supported legislation dramatically changing Wyoming’s public education leadership structure say the bill’s swift passage was necessary in order to make decisions about other bills.

Some opponents have concerns about Senate File 104’s constitutionality and have said the bill was fast-tracked in 12 days to limit public attention.

State House Speaker Tom Lubnau labeled such concerns “urban legend.” The Gillette Republican said the first bill to become law this year was introduced early in order to allow time to amend following bills so SF104 could be properly executed.

SF104 stripped the state superintendent of public instruction of administrative duties in the Wyoming Department of Education and gave them to the newly created director position within the agency.

The superintendent will continue to lead educator training, provide reports to state lawmakers and serve on state boards and commissions, among other things.

Lubnau said the timing of SF104 was important because the new leadership structure needed to be incorporated into this session’s budget bill. Legislators are working on allocations for the superintendent’s office and the new director’s office.

“Had the bill passed toward the end of the session [in early March], the superintendent would have had an agency without a budget, which doesn’t do anybody any good,” Lubnau said.

SF104 also affected two bills addressing education accountability, which designate duties among education officials according to the 2011 Wyoming Accountability in Education Act.

House Bill 91 outlines duties and responsibilities under the first phase of the act, which includes creating a system to rate schools. House Bill 72 addresses the second phase of the act, which includes teacher evaluations.

As originally introduced, HB91 would have shifted several administrative duties and funding from the Department of Education to the State Board of Education. The director position now makes that move unnecessary, according to lawmakers who reworked the bill last week.

The Legislature’s Select Committee on Statewide Education Accountability had drafted the shift in administrative duties to the board in December. The change followed a report approved by the committee that outlined numerous instances in which the Department of Education failed to complete Legislature-mandated education accountability tasks.

Lawmakers cited the same concerns as reasons for introducing SF104. The governor-appointed director position and other changes in the bill are designed to get the accountability work back on track, lawmakers have said.

Senate President Tony Ross said SF104 went through the same process as any other bill.

“We had three full readings and a very impassioned and detailed debate on the bill,” Lubnau added.

He said lawmakers received a considerable volume of emails and lobbying. Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, co-chairman of the Education Accountability Committee and sponsor of SF104, agreed.

“We weren’t trying to pull the wool over anybody’s eyes,” Coe said. “I had 250 to 300 emails on the subject, so somebody knew about it out there.”

A bill at its fastest can go through the full process in four days, Lubnau said. In extreme cases, the Legislature can suspend rules to make it faster. A few years ago, lawmakers accidentally legalized gambling with some sloppy language in a bingo bill. They had to suspend rules in both houses and passed the revised bill in about a day, he said.

Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill has denied claims that she and her department have not complied with the legislative requirements to complete accountability work.

In a response to the report that prompted SF104, Hill wrote that much of the information in it was inaccurate or incomplete.

Hill told the Casper Star-Tribune it’s widely known the bill was fast-tracked.

“They did it because they could,” she said.

Everyone has to decide for themselves what they think happened, Hill said, adding she believes most people know. Hill said many have told her that legislators have not returned their calls and emails.

She added that the problem goes far beyond her and Senate File 104 in that constituents are not being listened to.

“I’m very concerned with the direction that we’re going in this state and the overreaching power of the Legislature,” Hill said.

“It’s a legislative session that’s been overreaching,” Hill added. “The Legislature has reached into the executive branch and the judiciary, and there hasn’t been a separation of powers.”

Hill also said legislators want to micromanage the Department of Education, just as they did with schools. They want control of educational matters that should be left to communities, parents, school boards, teachers and students, she said.

Reach education reporter Elysia Conner at 307-266-0593 or elysia.conner@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter @ElysiaConner

Copyright 2015 Casper Star-Tribune Online. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(8) Comments

  1. Sassy
    Report Abuse
    Sassy - February 11, 2013 2:02 pm
    No he is from Gillette- Campbell County this is your problem
  2. Wyoite
    Report Abuse
    Wyoite - February 11, 2013 1:42 pm
    Oh, I see, Mr. Lubnau fast-tracked this to help Ms. Hill and her group out! He was trying to ensure proper funding of the Superintendent's department! Who is this Lubnau guy from Casper and why does he think the electorate is so stupid? Does he really expect us to believe his BS?
  3. Big Jake
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    Big Jake - February 10, 2013 5:31 pm
    You took the stole my thunder, Cody Coyote! Spot on!
  4. LiferRepub1
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    LiferRepub1 - February 10, 2013 2:10 pm
    If you believe that then Lubnau and Coe will sell you some ocean front property in Cody.
  5. Cody Coyote
    Report Abuse
    Cody Coyote - February 10, 2013 12:13 pm
    My Acme Bullsh_t Detector just went off. Never seen the needle peg at 10-Red before like that, or heard it honk so loud.

    The Lynch Hill Movement had its inception last summer. We in Cody knew she was in the crosshairs back during primary season. But then again , anyone who could not see what a trainwreck Cindy Hill was going to be in office was not paying attention ( read the CST's former State Editor Kerry Drake's excellent column on this topic at WyoFile.com ) Not fastracked? All legal ? BS.... But those who think Cindy Hill was doing OK and did not need some oversight are delusional. She... had ...to... go.

    So why is she still here? The honorable and legitimate way to remove Cindy Hill would have been the impeachment process. The evidence was there. The trial could have been done over the noon hour and Hill's appointment--- Mike Massie , whom Hank Coe crossed party lines to endorse along with many other Repuglicans )---- could have easily confirmed in the Senate by session's send. The train would get right back on the tracks, express line. All of this would not have raised a single issue about Constitutionality.

    THEN the Lej could pass a package of Department of Education reforms. All of this would have been clean and purposeful, and the way the processes are supposed to work.

    But instead, the Good Old Boys fired up the Steamroller and threw Cindy under it. The utter irony is Coe and Lubnau didn't remove her from office at all, instead creating a whole new bureaucratic tier to run the department. I call that person the Prime Minister of Education. Cindy is still here, on the job , just with no teeth claws or maybe even a tongue.

    The Good Old Boys have nothing to be proud of here. Yes, the Hill Lynch Movement was fast tracked. And now we are spending more and accomplishing less while the state school machinery is on " Idle".

    Wyoming Steamroller Politics. Cindy should be grateful the Boys at the Cheyenne Social Club didn't throw her to the wolves.... ( the Grey Wolf was thrown under said steamroller last year)
  6. pappy
    Report Abuse
    pappy - February 10, 2013 9:13 am
    How ignorant does Rep Lubnau and Senator Coe think the voters are. Looking at the bills shown with this article there isn't one that depends on who is heading the Department of Education. The only bill affected by this change was the supplemental funding bill. Had Superintendent Hill duties remained the same would these bills not been introduced? I seriously doubt that. The Gov. Senator Coe and Rep Lubnau and the rest of the "good old boys" should be ashamed.
  7. pappy
    Report Abuse
    pappy - February 10, 2013 9:03 am
    It's CYA time. This bill could have and should have been brought up during the interim period between session but wasn't. Gov and Senator Coe didn't want people to know what was going on before the session so it could fast tracked. I notice none of the legislators are saying how much money this cost the people of WY. The Superintendent ask for 12 million, what did they give the Dept of Education? They fast tracked the bill to avoid as much heat as possible. Hopefully the voters will remember come election time.
  8. Sassy
    Report Abuse
    Sassy - February 10, 2013 7:33 am
    I have never heard anything as absurd in my life. The bill was fast tracked so quit lying about this Sen Coe and Rep Lubnau.

    I listened to the audio of the senate last week, you guys still have contempt in your voices when you are speaking about the Superintendent. In fact you often referred to the Superintendent as "she" rather than by her elected title of Superintendent. This is disgraceful and disrespectful you are pathetic.

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