We need your help in urging legislators to reintroduce a bill to fund justice reinvestment.
For the past two years, Wyoming has been working on a justice reinvestment initiative aimed at reversing the trend of increasing incarceration and decreasing access to mental health and drug treatment programs. Overall the intent is for the changes in state law to eventually self-fund – the “reinvestment” of money currently going into incarcerating Wyomingites into programs to keep residents out of jail and prison.
But the justice reinvestment initiatives need a jump-start in funding, a little “up front” push to help get the initiatives off the ground. But in November, the Labor, Health, and Social Services Committee killed a bill that would have temporarily increased taxes on alcohol to fund these initiatives. The tax would exist from 2021-2024, and would go a long way in helping our state get out of the cycle of incarcerating more people, spending more money on incarcerating those people, and not being able to fund the programs that actually help our friends, family, and neighbors stay out of the criminal justice system.
Some of our taxes on alcoholic beverages haven’t changed since 1935. We have the lowest taxes on alcohol in the country. This bill would take the tax on a six-pack of beer from one cent – to two cents. That’s literally a one-cent increase to help fund an intiative to cut our incarceration rates and reinvest in our people.
So here is our ask: we want to see this bill brought back to the Legislature in 2020, and we want your help in identifying legislators who would be willing to sponsor this bill. If you are able to please reach out to your legislators if you think they may be willing to bring or co-sponsor this bill in the upcoming session. In the interim committee hearing, Sen. Schuler, Rep. Dayton-Selman, Rep. Hallinan, Rep. Roscoe, Rep. Yin, and Sen. Scott voted in support.
We plan on mobilizing folks around the state to help this bill pass, because we believe the good beer, wine, and liquor drinkers of the state of Wyoming would be willing to pay a temporary tax for three years to help get our incarceration rates down and our friends and neighbors back into our communities.