Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Who makes up the legislature

Joan Barrons of the Casper Star Tribune wrote a very interesting article that was published in last Sunday's CST regarding the makeup of the state's legislature.  It also addressed national trends in general. It was quite interesting, and more than a little surprising really.


For one thing, something that we tend to hear here all the time turns out not to be true.  We're continually told that the legislature is dominated by farmers and ranchers.  Not so, as it turns out.  It was once true, however.  "Twenty years ago, nearly one-third of House and Senate members were ranchers or farmers." Barrons reports.  Now only three are.  What a decline.

I'm  not sure what I think about that, but it worries me.

Lawyers, whom people everywhere think dominate the legislative process, aren't in Wyoming, at least in terms of numbers.  "The House currently has seven active attorneys, the same number as 10 years ago, and two fewer than 20 years ago in the 1995-96 Legislature."  Interesting statistic.  I know three of those lawyers, and up until recently I knew four.  One just retired.  Odd to think that I personally knew half of the lawyer contingent.

Barrons notes that in Wyoming the generally small number of lawyers has always been the case, although there were once more in the legislature, but that they tend to do more talking than anyone else, and hence the get noticed. That makes sense to me. 

While on the topic of lawyers in Wyoming's government, I do think it should be noted that the current governor is a lawyer.  The prior governor was also a lawyer.  The one just prior to that was a farmer and businessman, but his predecessor was also a lawyer.  There's been a lot of Wyoming governors who have been lawyers.

Barrons notes in regards to lawyers that they did in fact dominate many state legislatures at one time, but the demands of their professions and the demands of being a modern legislator have made for an overall decline in lawyer legislators nationwide.  Indeed, I've frequently wondered how the lawyers I know who are legislators were able to do that juggling.

Barrons reports that businessmen now dominate our legislature.  I suppose I should have known that. So ours has gone from one which was dominated by ranchers to one that is dominated by businessmen.  An interesting evolution.

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