Wyoming considers an elected Attorney General in the new session

Posted by Clyde Hutchins | Feb 13, 2018 | 0 Comments

Wyoming is considering a new law that would provide for an elected Attorney General

Update: Senate File 76 failed to gain enough votes for introduction during the 2018 legislative session. The bill will likely be brought back next year for introduction in the 2019 general session.

Currently, Wyoming is one of the few states where the Attorney General is not elected. Most states, including Colorado, elect their state Attorney General in the general election. All that may change if Senate File 76 passes this legislative session.

The 2018 legislative session began on February 12, 2018. It runs through March 10, 2018. Several bills were prefiled. Among them is Senate File 76, which provides for changing the current structure of an appointed attorney general to an elected attorney general. The provision would take effect this year, allowing for election of the attorney general in the 2018 general election. The term would be 4 years. 

From the perspective of consumer protection, if SF 76 passes, it may strengthen Wyoming's state consumer protection efforts. As seen by the example of other states, an elected attorney general often uses the visibility of the consumer protection office to his benefit. Every time there is a successful enforcement action or a bountiful refund to consumers, the elected attorney general puts his name on the victory and gains esteem among the electorate. This creates a cycle where the attorney general puts more funding and energy into the consumer protection office, driving more enforcement actions and more victories. Overall, the effort is a plus for consumers.

There is a possible downside though. Many elected attorney generals go overboard in their zealous attempts to protect consumers. They sometimes go into fringe territory and become harmful to legitimate businesses.

I have no fear of such over zealousness occurring in Wyoming. Wyomingites are a reasonable and conservative group. They have little room for the silly antics that often go on within the borders of some of their sister states.

There are considerations other than consumer protection that are driving the effort to make the Wyoming attorney general subject to the vote of the electorate. I cannot predict how it will turn out. However, it will be interesting to see if SF 76 passes into law.

About the Author

Clyde Hutchins

Clyde Hutchins is the founder of Harmony Law. Mr. Hutchins started his career as a lawyer in Cheyenne, Wyoming. First gaining experience as a law clerk for the district court judges, Mr. Hutchins entered private practice with a Cheyenne firm focused on civil litigation, business law and some general practice law. Later, Mr. Hutchins went to Alaska, where he was the chief litigator for a firm that engaged in bond law, corporate law, securities law, and the broad reach of municipal law. Mr. Hutchins returned to Cheyenne to represent the State of Wyoming in the national tobacco arbitration. While in that position, he developed the consumer protection unit for the Wyoming Attorney General's Office. He led over 120 investigations and enforcement actions in Wyoming and worked on numerous joint cases with the Federal Trade Commission and other states, including Colorado. Mr. Hutchins relocated to Colorado in 2016 and founded Harmony Law. Mr. Hutchins has established Harmony Law in three principal areas of law. First, it is a general practice firm in the areas of business law, estate planning and family law. Secondly, it is a civil litigation firm, practicing law in state and federal courts throughout Wyoming and Colorado. Finally, it is one of the few firms in Wyoming or Colorado that focuses on consumer protection law.


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