Controversial private school bill becomes law without governor’s signature

By Alan Rogers, Star-Tribune, AP

WYOMING – Gov. Mark Gordon allowed a controversial bill exempting Wyoming’s private schools from local zoning regulations to become law Friday, but he did so without his signature.

During the recently completed legislative session, the bill exposed a division among lawmakers. Namely, whether or not local control, which legislators often tout, should take a back seat to limiting how local governments regulate land use.

In a bill signing ceremony Friday, Gordon acknowledged that presented a strong, philosophical question but said he would allow the bill to become law—albeit, without his signature.

“This was a tough issue, and I do want to take a moment to compliment the legislature for their consideration of this bill and how it went forward,” Gordon said. “This is a challenging piece of legislation.”

Gordon said the Legislature and local governments need to find a forum to discuss the challenges exposed by the debate over the bill in an attempt to find solutions that were closer to the ground, in order to avoid having to bring local issues to a head in the legislative session.

Sponsored by Sen. Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, Senate File 49 was inspired by zoning issues Stephen Friess faced as he planned a new facility for a Teton County private school that he funds. He is the son of Foster Friess, a Republican megadonor who lost to Gordon in last year’s GOP primary.

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