Responding to economic instability both in the U.S. and abroad, lawmakers in Wyoming are advancing what is quickly becoming known as the “Doomsday Bill.”
If enacted, House Bill 85 would create a “government continuity task force” to study how a variety of crises would affect the state, such as an economic meltdown, a U.S. constitutional crisis, or disruptions in food and energy supplies, according to the bill’s text.
The law also suggests looking into providing an “alternative currency” if the U.S. dollar should collapse.
The task force would be comprised of state lawmakers, the director of the Wyoming Department of Homeland Security, the state attorney general, the state adjutant general, the director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture and the director of the state Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. (SEE ALSO: Texas hunting ranchers fight for right to save African antelope species)
“This isn’t about doomsday,” the bill’s sponsor, Republican state Rep. David Miller told The Daily Caller. “It is just planning. I don’t want people thinking that the federal government is going to be there every step of the way to solve all of their problems.”
And while he doesn’t anticipate a catastrophic event, Miller points to disasters like hurricane Katrina, which left some Louisiana residents stranded for days, for reasons why local governments should hope for the best — but prepare for the worst.
“Things can happen fast,” he told TheDC. “And if something serious were to happen to Wyoming, I’m not expecting a bunch of Federales to show up and save us.”
Media outlets and individuals on the left have exaggerated the bill’s contents and purpose, Miller explained. Successful passage of the so-called “Doomsday Bill” would only result in an impact study and a list of recommendations. It would not result in any government action.
Not yet, anyway.
“I don’t think there’s anyone in this room today what would come up here and say that this country is in good shape, that the world is stable and in good shape — because that is clearly not the case,” Republican state Rep. Lorraine Quarberg told the Casper Star Tribune on Friday.
“To put your head in the sand and think that nothing bad’s going to happen, and that we have no obligation to the citizens of the state of Wyoming to at least have the discussion, is not healthy.”
The legislation comes on the heels of a report released by the Bipartisan Policy Center on Friday that indicates the U.S. may hit its $16.4 trillion debt ceiling as early as November — much sooner than anticipated.
Miller told TheDC that the federal government’s out-of-control spending and inability to pass a budget for three straight years also helped inspire the bill.
The response to House Bill 85 has been overwhelmingly positive, Miller said, noting that he has received comments from residents in Colorado, Montana, Idaho, Arizona, Missouri, Arkansas and other states, all asking for copies of the bill to give to their own representatives.
Some Wyoming residents also appear to be on the “prepper” bandwagon.
“I do think states should prepare for a financial collapse or natural disaster,” Jackson, Wyo. resident Ben Tucker told The Daily Caller. “Individuals should prepare for it, counties should prepare for it and states should prepare for it.”
It is not clear whether any other states are considering similar legislation.
Certain provisions were eventually struck from the bill to ensure its passage, including a poison-pill amendment aimed at authorizing Wyoming to “implement a draft, raise a standing army, marine corps, navy and air force and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier.”
The amount of funds allocated for the study was also cut in half from $32,000 to $16,000.
The bill has already passed two readings in the Wyoming House, most recently on Monday evening. Another positive House vote on Tuesday would send the bill to the state Senate for consideration.
UPDATE: Wyoming lawmakers shot down House Bill 85 by a 30–27 vote on Tuesday, leaving its sponsors just one vote short of the 31 they needed to advance the legislation.
Miller said the poison-pill amendment authorizing the state to “implement a draft, raise a standing army, marine corps, navy and air force and acquire strike aircraft and an aircraft carrier” likely killed the bill, according to the Associated Press.