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The restrictions placed upon the apportionment of members of the Legislature are: (1) Each county shall have at least one Senator and one Representative, regardless of the number of inhabitants; (2) At no time shall the House of Representatives contain a number of members which shall be less than twice as many as are in the Senate, nor a greater number than three times those of the Senate. (Art. III, Sec. 3, Cl. 3.) As there are now twenty-three Senators, there must be at least forty-six Representatives, and there might have been as many as sixty-nine had the Legislature so desired. This limitation is necessary in order to preserve a balance of power between the two houses and not give undue authority to either one. The Senate is often designated as the “ Upper House ” and the House of Representatives as the “ Lower House.”
A person eligible to the Legislature must be a citizen of the United States and a resident of Wyoming; he must have lived in the county from which he is elected at least one year previous to his election. Senators must be at least twenty-five years of age and Representatives twenty-one years. The desire to have the Legislature composed of two classes of members has made this requirement in the difference of age. Experience and mature judgment are supposed
to come with age, and a much older class of men always found in our Senates. The members are looked upon as more conservative in the formation of laws, and act as a check on the more radical measures adopted by the House of Representatives. All of the members of the House of Representatives are elected every two years, but only one-half of the Senate is so elected, the other half serving a second term, and in this way the Legislature is never composed entirely of new members. When a vacancy occurs in the Legislature by death or removal from the State or any other cause, the Governor does not have the power to appoint some one else to take the place, as he does vacancies occurring in many of the State offices. The matter is submitted to the people by special election, who re-elect a member from the district having the vacancy.
The Constitution prohibits the Legislature as to its acts in as great a degree as it directs them what to do. The laws of “ Thou shalt not ” of the Constitution equal the commands to do. This is a wise regulation, because it is easier to foresee where injuries and injustice may be done than it is to anticipate all the needs for the good of a commonwealth.
Restriction upon Legislation.- Section 27, Article III, forbids the Legislature to enact laws in seventy-eight different cases. These cases are all enumerated and cannot be subject to special or local laws to govern them. Laws must be general in their nature in order to be valid and have force, and in order to avoid class legislation.
Legislators Prohibited.-- No foreigner or non-resident of the State or person under twenty-one years of age can be a member of the Legislature. (Art. III, Sec. 2.)
The apportionment cannot in the Senate be greater than one-half the number in the House. (Sec. 3.) Compensation for services must not exceed a certain amount, fixed by a preceding Legislature; at present it is fixed at five dollars
a day and ten cents mileage. Regular sessions cannot extend beyond forty days. (Secs. 6 and 9; R. S. 1899, Sec. 34.) No monies can be paid out of the State treasury to employees of the Legislature not appointed according to law. (Sec. 29.) No member can vote on a bill in which he has a private interest (Sec. 46); nor can he have an interest in a contract furnishing supplies for the use of the Legislative Assembly (Sec. 31); and he cannot occupy any civil office (except a notary public or officer of the State militia) or be a member of Congress while acting in his legislative capacity. (Sec. 8.) A member expelled for corruption cannot again
as a lawmaker. (Sec. 12.) Neither House can adjourn sine die or finally adjourn without the consent of the other. (Sec. 15.)
No bill granting extra compensation after services have been rendered can be passed (Sec. 30); and no bill can be so changed when passing from one House to the other so as to alter its original purpose (Sec. 20); except for the expenses of the government of the State, no bill can be introduced carrying with it an expenditure of money within five days of the close of the session, unless by unanimous consent. (Sec. 22.) Bills embracing more than one subject, except relating to the classification and revision of laws and the general appropriation bills, cannot be passed. Each bill must be clearly expressed by its title. (Sec. 24.) If a law is amended in any way, it cannot be changed by reference to the title only, but the amended portion must be re-enacted and printed in full (Sec. 26); and no bill can become a law except it is first referred to a committee and put in printed form for legislative consideration, and then passed by a majority vote of each House, and the action taken by each member in voting must be made of record. (Secs. 23 and 25.) No power can be given to private individuals to regulate municipal affairs. (Sec. 37.) Contracts cannot be impaired nor ex post facto laws be made. (Dec. of R., Sec. 35.) The Legislature cannot remove the seat of government of a county, nor divide a county in making Representative districts, or form a new county without complying with the State requirements. (Art. XII, Secs. 2 and 3; Art. III, Apport., Sec. 3.)
These restrictions placed upon the Legislature relate largely to financial questions and the guarding against local or private interests in introduction of bills which may become a law.
Legislators Empowered. — The Legislature meets the second Tuesday in January every odd numbered year. (Art. III, Sec. 7.) Each House acts as a judge of the qualifications of its members to take their places as legislators, and determines the rules governing its proceedings. The Senate elects a President as a presiding officer, and the House of Representatives elects a Speaker, each of whom must be a member of the house he represents. (Secs. 10 and 12.) A majority of the members of each house constitutes a quorum and elect all the legislative officers. (Secs. 10 and 12.) Legislators are exempt from arrest while attending sessions, except for breach of peace, treason and violation of their oath of office. (Sec. 16.) All the proceedings of each house must be made of written record, open to the public, except as necessity may demand secrecy. The sessions are open to the public unless there may be some special reason which requires a private meeting. (Secs. 13 and 14.) All bills and joint resolutions are signed in open session by the President of the Senate and Speaker of the House of Representatives, and the fact that they were so signed is entered upon the journal of each house. (Sec. 28.) The Legislature provides for the regulations of corporations (Art. X, Secs. I and 10; Art. XIII, Sec. 3) and for courts of arbitration to settle controversies between laborers and their employers. Aliens cannot be employed in connection with any State, county or municipal works. (Art. XIX, Labor, Sec. I.)
If two candidates for Governor of the State receive at a general election an equal number of votes, the Legislature at a joint session elects by ballot one of these candidates to fill the position. (Art: IV, Sec. 3.) The Legislature has the right to organize new counties and provide for township organization (Art. XII, Secs. 2, 3 and 4) and direct the manner of taking the State census every tenth year after 1895; the number of inhabitants so recorded is used as the basis for the apportionment of State Senators and Representatives. (Art. III, Apport., Secs. 2 and 3.) The Constitution is amended, revised or a new one adopted by direction of the Legislature, but no Constitution, amendment or revision is valid unless voted upon by the people of the State. (Art. XX.)
An amendment to the Constitution is proposed by either branch of the Legislature, and if passed by two-thirds of both houses the amendment is submitted to the electors of the State at the next general election, and if a majority of the electors ratify the proposed amendment it becomes a part of the Constitution. Constitutional conventions are called in the same way. Only once in our history has a Constitutional amendment been submitted to the people. It failed to pass for lack of the requisite number of votes. The question had more of a county interest than one of general importance. (Art. XX, Sec. 1.)
At the regular election in the fall of 1890, Article XVI of the Constitution relating to the selling of county bonds to refund indebtedness was voted upon for amendment. The total number of votes cast at the election was 25,429, and of this number only 7,605 people voted on the amendment. There were 5,435 votes for the amendment and 2,170 against it. In order to have adopted the amendment it would have been necessary to have at least a majority of the 25,429 votes, or 12,730 votes, in favor of the amendment. The Seventh State Legislature of 1903 by a joint resolution proposed the