I wish I had better news.
Last night (Tuesday), after impassioned testimony from many of our great volunteers, the Senate Corporations, Elections and Local Governments Committee voted down HJ0008 by a vote of two yays to three nays. Senators Tara Nethercott and Wendy Schuler voted yay, while Senators Cale Case, Charles Scott and William Landen voted nay.
This may seem like a defeat, but we need to think of it as nothing more than a temporary delay. This issue is too important, and we have come too far in a very short time, to quit now. The fight must continue.
Consider this: we started this movement only two years ago, with three people. Today we have a strong organization of more than 300 petition circulators from all over the state, another 50 or so data managers or other volunteers, and a mailing list of over 700 interested Wyoming citizens. And look how much we accomplished: we gathered more than 20,000 valid signatures from all over the state, and this year we got our bill adopted by the House by a healthy 37-20-3 margin. We were defeated by a single vote in the Senate committee. We are so close to victory here!
Jeff Clements, the chair of American Promise, gave us these words of encouragement this morning after we told him of the result:
You all in Wyoming started from scratch and yet did more than I have seen in any state, any where, in a shorter period of time. So I’d say you have a lot of reasons to celebrate and come back strong for the win in the next round. We will certainly be with you in any way we can. Onward!
Jeff also pointed out that there is a vote in the New Hampshire legislature in two weeks that would make New Hampshire the 20th state to call for the 28th Amendment. They started their work in 2011. Perseverance in this important work is the only way to achieve success.
During our time in Cheyenne over the past several weeks, it has become clear to us that (a) the legislature knows about us, and (b) they respect the hard work that so many of you have put in to this historic effort. Our message is being heard! We have changed the minds of enough House members to go from a squeaker of a win there to a healthy win, and we believe since SJ0008 died several weeks ago by a 9-21 vote we have changed the minds of at least three, and possibly more, Senators. For example, the two Senators who voted Yes in committee last night had both voted No on SJ0008. When legislators hear from us, they understand and can be persuaded.
The significant progress we have made to date is due to the hard work of Wyoming Promise volunteers citizens. I am so extremely proud to be the chair of this group of dedicated and amazing volunteers. None of this progress would have been possible without the dedication of all the volunteers.
So what is next? First, constituents of Senators Nethercott and Schuler should email or call them to express their thanks for their support. Second, we all need to take a week or so to catch our breath, reflect on how far we have come, and take some pride in the great progress we have made in just two years. Then, look for an email from us about future planning.
Thanks again to you all. I am so proud of you.
-Ken Chestek, Wyoming Promise Chair
with Lynn Horton Morrison, Wyoming Promise Vice-Chair
and Shelby Shadwell, Wyoming Promise Treasurer