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2018 Wyoming Legislature

Gov. Matt Mead delivers his State of the State address Monday, Feb. 12, 2018 during the joint session of the Wyoming Legislature at the Jonah Business Center in Cheyenne.

CHEYENNE — Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead vetoed a controversial bill passed by the Legislature last week meant to protect “critical infrastructure” in the state, but which critics feared would violate free speech and property rights.

In his veto message delivered Wednesday night, Mead wrote that Senate File 74 attempted to address an important issue but that it was “imprecisely crafted.”

Both the House and Senate attempted to override Mead’s veto on Thursday. Doing so requires the consent of two-thirds of lawmakers in both chambers, a threshold that was met in the Senate with 20 legislators in favor of overriding the veto.

However, a similar move in the House could not even gain a majority, failing with 20 in favor and 36 opposed.

The Senate did not debate the measure, but there was a lengthy discussion in the House.

“This is not a well-written bill and needs to go back through the committee process, take more public input, make some other amendments to the bill,” said Rep. Dan Furphy, R-Laramie.

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Rep. Pat Sweeney, R-Casper, said that he understood those arguments but nonetheless supported the measure in order to prevent the types of disruptive protests against energy infrastructure he has seen in other states.

“There will never be a right bill for some of those folks,” Sweeney said.

Nonetheless, the attempt to override Mead’s veto failed by a wide margin, with far fewer lawmakers voting in favor of the effort than had voted in favor of the bill in the first place.

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Arno Rosenfeld covers state politics.

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