CHEYENNE, Wyoming — After initially failing to garner enough support, a bill aimed at dealing with the fallout from the state Supreme Court decision in the superintendent of public instruction case won introduction from the state Senate on Thursday.
The bill fell short of the two-thirds vote necessary for introduction on the first vote Thursday morning, but senators reconsidered it after lunch and gave it the needed margin on a 21-9 vote.
The bill would create a committee to study the superintendent's duties and make recommendations to the Legislature, which could then be called into special session.
The state Supreme Court ruled 3-2 on Jan. 28 that a law enacted last year removing many of the superintendent's duties was unconstitutional. On Wednesday, the state attorney general asked the court to reconsider its decision.
With the legal process still going on and the time that would be needed to deal with the decision's repercussions, lawmakers say they can't deal with the matter during the current 20-day budget session.
Sen. Ogden Driskill, R-Devils Tower, said he doesn't like the idea of holding a special session, but he sees no alternative.
"I see no way possible this session, through budget amendments, to fix what the courts told us we have to do," Driskill said. "It left us with no ability to do anything but a special session."
Separately, a constitutional amendment to eliminate the superintendent's office failed introduction. The proposal would have put the question to voters in the 2016 general election.
Sen. Bruce Burns, R-Sheridan, said he proposed the amendment because he had long believed the superintendent's office was unnecessary and he believes voters should be given the chance to decide the issue.
In addition, the state House rejected introducing a bill that would restore the superintendent as head of the state Department of Education. Sponsor Gerald Gay, R-Casper, said his bill would have resolved what the court found unconstitutional.
Concerns about Superintendent Cindy Hill's administration of the state Department of Education led to the GOP-controlled Legislature and Republican Gov. Matt Mead enacting a law last year that removed the superintendent as head of the agency. The superintendent was replaced by a director appointed by the governor, but Hill remained one of five statewide elected officials.
Hill, a Republican who has decided to run for governor this year, was removed as head of the department in the middle of her four-year term and was provided a new, separate office.
She filed a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the law.