Wyoming Bill Banning Critical Race Theory Falls Short In House
A bill that would have banned the teaching of Critical Race Theory [CRT] in Wyoming schools and government training programs fell short in an introductory vote in the Wyoming House of Representatives on Thursday.
While a majority voted to introduce the measure, it fell short of the threshold needed to introduce a non-budget bill in a budget session.
But a different bill that attempts to limit the teaching of CRT in Wyoming easily passed a Senate introductory vote on Thursday.
The House Bill HB 97, was sponsored by Rep. Chuck Gray [R-Natrona].
In the floor debate on Thursday Gray told lawmakers that his bill clearly defines what Critical Race Theory is. He said that doesn't cover such topics as the teaching of the history of an ethnic group, the discussion of otherwise controversial aspects of history, or the historical oppression of a particular group of people. Gray said the State Superintendent supports the bill and that 14 states have similar laws.
But Rep. Andy Schwartz [D-Teton County], questioned provisions of the bill that say the teaching of history must be neutral and without judgment. Schwartz asked "How can that be possible? If I were a native American, I doubt I could accept a neutral and judgment-free approach to the relocation and decimation of the indigenous population." Schartz made similar arguments in regard to Black Americans. ''But I'm Jewish" he added. "And I cannot accept a judgment-free and neutral approach to the murder of six million Jews in World War II."
Gray countered, saying ''I think that accusation is not what the bill says, and it's disappointing that it would be made on this floor." He pointed to a section of the bill saying discussion of otherwise controversial subjects is allowed. ''And it can be taught in a complete and accurate perspective." He went on to say that "the holocaust is obviously something that we totally condemn.''
The bill ended up winning a majority 35-24 vote with one absent. But even though a majority voted in favor, it fell short of the 2/3 majority [or 40 votes] needed for the introduction of a non-budget bill in a budget session.
Here is how the vote broke down:
Ayes: ANDREW, BAKER, BEAR, BLACKBURN, BURKHART, CLAUSEN, CRAGO, EKLUND, FORTNER, GRAY, GREEAR, HALLINAN, HAROLDSON, HEINER, HENDERSON, JENNINGS, KNAPP, LARSEN, L, LAURSEN, D, NEIMAN, OAKLEY, O'HEARN, OLSEN, OTTMAN, PAXTON, RODRIG-WILLIAMS, ROMERO-MARTINEZ, SIMPSON, STITH, STYVAR, WASHUT, WESTERN, WILLIAMS, WILSON, WINTER
Nays: BANKS, BARLOW, BURT, CONNOLLY, DUNCAN, EYRE, FLITNER, HARSHMAN, KINNER, LEBEAU, MACGUIRE, NEWSOME, NICHOLAS, OBERMUELLER, PROVENZA, ROSCOE, SCHWARTZ, SHERWOOD, SOMMERS, SWEENEY, WALTERS, WHARFF, YIN, ZWONITZER.
But a separate measure aimed at Critical Race Theory in Wyoming schools did win initial approval in the Wyoming Senate. Senate File 103, sponsored by Sen. Troy McKeown [R-Campbell County} moved forward on a 25-5 vote.
That measure has been referred to the Senate Education Committee.
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