CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has allowed a bill that slightly changes the state’s public health order process to become law without his signature despite calling it “premature.”
The legislation would limit local public health orders that restrict the movements of non-quarantined people to no more than 10 days unless extensions are approved by a corresponding elected body, such as a county commission, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reported Thursday. The bill applies to orders that mandate business closures or gathering restrictions.
The bill was advanced after lawmakers decided on a compromise to not include state lawmakers in the public health order process.
“I believe enacting HB 127 before the pandemic has come to an end and before we are able to do an after-action review of the public health response to COVID-19 is premature,” Gordon said. “I did support, and continue to support, the establishment of a task force to complete a review of the state’s pandemic response.”
However, the Republican governor declined to veto the bill on Thursday, saying in a statement that he was “mindful that good policy takes perspective, and the proximity to our experience with COVID-19 certainly influences the perspective on the policies related to public health orders.”
Some lawmakers raised concerns about how the changes could impact different areas of public health, such as in water supply emergencies.
Another portion of the bill, sponsored by Republican House Speaker Eric Barlow, addresses who appoints the state’s public health officer. Currently, the director of the Wyoming Department of Health is tasked with selecting the state health officer. The bill reassigns that task to the governor.
Gordon said that portion of the bill “solves a problem the Governor never had,” because he already had the ability to remove the state health officer and the health department director.