Fremont County central to redistricting talks

RIVERTON — State lawmakers are considering several proposals to alter the makeup of the Wyoming Legislature, with Fremont County central to the discussion. 

Currently, Wyoming residents choose 60 senators and 30 representatives to serve as state legislators. But some lawmakers have proposed reducing the ratio to 52-26, for example, or increasing it to 62-31.

The change would not impact the number of legislators representing Fremont County, but it could affect the boundaries of local legislative districts, Wyoming Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, said during a redistricting meeting Thursday in Riverton.

Currently, about 680 Fremont County residents in the Shoshoni and Lysite areas vote in Bighorn Basin legislative districts. 

But if the number of statewide representatives is altered, Case said those residents may be able to vote in Fremont County again. 

“What we need to understand is which way do we go in that fight and how would it affect us one way or the other,” he said Thursday. 

The Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee voted Sept. 3 to adopt a “guiding principle” that calls for 60 senators and 30 representatives in the Wyoming Legislature. 

But at Thursday’s meeting at Central Wyoming College, Wyoming Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, who co-chairs the Corporations committee, said lawmakers still are debating the other ratio proposals. 

“We’re researching options on where we can flex,” Zwonitzer said. “(That’s) still in the mix. … And there are some other proposals out there that other counties are working on.” 

While advocating for the 52-26 split Sept. 3, Zwonitzer talked about the need to reduce the size of government in Wyoming – including the size of the Legislature. 

“I’d strongly continue to encourage a 52-26 plan,” he said. “I know it hurts, and it pits legislators against one another. (But I hope to) convince you at a later date that it fits better.” 

The Corporations committee also voted Sept. 3 to adopt a “working” redistricting model that keeps Fremont County whole by including residents from the Yellowstone National Park area in the Bighorn Basin district instead. 

“We’re a separate region –– Fremont County,” Case said Thursday. “The logic of it just screams at you.”

But the Bighorn Basin, which lost population in the 2020 Census, needs about 1,350 more voters this year to fill out its legislative districts, according to state staff, and Wyoming Sen. Charles Scott, R-Casper, who created the “working model” document, did not think there were enough residents in YNP to meet that requirement.

“That’s not very many people, I suspect,” Scott said Sept. 3. “Mostly they’re going to have to come out through the Shoshoni/Lysite area, (or) they might have to come into northwest Natrona County.” 

There also are pockets of residents in the Pavillion and Dubois areas that could be included in the Bighorn Basin district, according to state staff.