on Saturday, April 28, 2018, The Young Democrats of Wyoming Held A Platform Convention And Adopted it's Official Platform that best embodies our progressive values.
YOUNG DEMOCRATS OF WYOMING 2018 PLATFORM
We, the Young Democrats of Wyoming, believe in equality, opportunity, social justice, and freedom. We believe the Democratic Party of Wyoming at its best embodies these values, and the Young Democrats of Wyoming exist to advance these principles and give the youth of Wyoming a voice for progressive change. We support a progressive, democratic vision that challenges the Equality State and our Party to keep moving forward.
For these ends and upon these principles, we, the Young Democrats of Wyoming, do hereby establish and adopt this Platform.
Agriculture is a vital part of Wyomingite life and directly impacts the health, economy and security of the State. The family farm and ranch is the backbone of our small-town, rural way of life, and as our population ages, sustaining the family farm or ranch becomes more challenging. We regard family farming and ranching as a cornerstone of our heritage and economy that must be preserved.
We believe in rural economic development that provides thousands of jobs and keeps food affordable. Wyoming Young Democrats will increase funding to support the next generation of farmers and ranchers, with particular attention given to promoting environmentally sustainable agricultural practices. We will encourage programs to protect and enhance family farms, a cherished way of life for so many in our State. We will support farm-to-school programs so that Wyoming’s youth gain access to healthy, local foods and education opportunities such as school gardens, cooking lessons and farm field trips. We will expand local food markets and regional food systems and provide a focused safety net to assist family operations that need support during challenging times.
While the EPA’s Agricultural Worker Protection Standard goes a long way to protect farmworkers from harmful pesticides and herbicides, we recognize there is a lot more we can do. The Young Democrats of Wyoming support stronger agricultural worker protections including regulation of work hours, elimination of child labor, ensuring adequate housing and fair wages for workers, and sanitary facilities in the field.
2. CIVIL AND HUMAN RIGHTS
Our values of inclusion and tolerance inspire hope and make us safer at home. Wyoming will be more secure, stable, and peaceful when all people are able to reach their potential and live in freedom and dignity. We strive to ensure that Wyoming lives up to its nickname, the “Equality State” and the values upon which our country was built, and our belief that all people are created equal, are reflected in everything our State does in every branch of government - including law enforcement. That is why we will promote peacebuilding, protect democracy, and champion human rights defenders. And we will seek to safeguard vulnerable minorities, including people of color, LGBTQIA+ people and people with disabilities.
Young Wyoming Democrats will always fight to end discrimination on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, language, religion, gender, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, or disability. We need to promote civility and speak out against bigotry and other forms of intolerance that have entered our political discourse. While freedom of expression is a fundamental constitutional principle, we must condemn hate speech that creates a fertile climate for violence.
A. Ending Institutional and Systemic Racism
We will fight to end institutional and systemic racism in our society. We will challenge and dismantle the structures that define lasting racial, economic, political, and social inequity. Wyoming Young Democrats will promote racial justice through fair, just, and equitable governing of all public-serving institutions and in the formation of public policy.
I. Honoring Wyoming’s Indigenous Tribal Nations and People
We have a profound moral and legal responsibility to Wyoming’s indigenous tribal nations—throughout our history we have failed to live up to that trust. We acknowledge the past injustices and the misguided, harmful federal and state policies and actions based on outdated and discredited values and beliefs that resulted in the destruction of the tribal nations’ economies, social, and religious systems, the taking of their lands, and the creation of intergenerational trauma that exists to this day. We believe that we have a moral and profound duty to honor, respect, and uphold our sacred obligation to the tribal nations and indigenous peoples.
We affirm our commitment to Wyoming’s indigenous communities’ right to sovereignty, to engage in commerce and to practice traditional customs and languages. We support the tribal members of the Wind River Reservation and all other tribal members right to self-determination without undue interference or intervention from the United States Government, our State, and local municipalities.
II. Black Lives Matter
In the early 1900s, Wyoming was home to a thriving African-American community until the introduction of anti-miscegenation and Jim Crow laws. We acknowledge the effects political, physical, and economic marginalization against African-Americans has played in Wyoming’s history and culture. We support reparations for all those harmed by the institution of slavery as the impacts have perpetuated systemic and economic oppression of past and current generations of people of color, especially African-Americans. We support removing any racially derogatory symbols and names and the Confederate battle flag from public properties, recognizing that it is a symbol of our nation's racist past that has no place in our present or our future. We will push for a societal transformation to make it clear that black lives matter and that there is no place for racism in our policies, in our policing, in our State.
B. People with Disabilities
No one should face discrimination based on disability status. We affirm our commitment to realizing the full promise of the Americans with Disabilities Act. We will protect and expand the right of people with disabilities to get the accommodations and support they need, from education to meaningful and gainful employment.
C. LGBTQIA+ Rights
Young Wyoming Democrats applaud the 2015 decision by the Supreme Court that recognized that LGBTQIA+ people—like other Americans—have the right to marry the person they love. But there is still much work to be done. In Wyoming, we all grieved the passing of Matthew Shepard, an openly gay, young man and are committed to honoring his memory with action. We will fight to protect LGBTQIA+ people from violence-including ending the crisis of violence against transgender Wyomingites. LGBTQIA+ Wyomingites still face discrimination in housing, employment, public accommodations, education, marriage, adoption, and health care without any legal recourse. That is unacceptable and must change.
D. Women’s Rights
Wyoming had a historical role in establishing equal voting rights for women as the first territory and State to do so. We are committed to that legacy and will fight for ensuring full equality for women. Young Wyoming Democrats will fight to end gender discrimination in the areas of education, employment, health care, or any other sphere. We will combat biases across economic, political, and social life that hold women back and limit their opportunities and also tackle specific challenges facing women of color. We are proud Wyoming is one of 35 states to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and will fight to see it finally enshrined in the United States Constitution.
E. Protect Religious Freedoms
Young Wyoming Democrats know that our State, our communities, and our lives are made vastly stronger and richer by faith in many forms and the countless acts of justice, mercy, and tolerance it inspires. As it is essential to defend religious freedom for all, we oppose all efforts to undermine the separation of church and State and align public policy around the tenets of any specific religion or to discriminate against elements of our citizenry based on religious doctrine.
3. ECONOMIC POLICY AND OPPORTUNITY
We believe everyone deserves the chance to live up to their potential. We know that there are barriers standing in the way of that goal from the enduring scourge of systemic racism to our deeply broken immigration system to discrimination against people on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity—and we are committed to facing those problems and fixing them. We are committed to reaching communities that have been left out and left behind for too long, from coal country to Indian Country to neighborhoods held back by multigenerational poverty. In Wyoming, we do not tear each other down—we lift each other up.
Under our State Constitution, Wyomingites have the right to a quality education. Wyoming Young Democrats know that every child, no matter who they are, how much their families earn, or where they live, should have access to a high-quality education, from preschool through high school and beyond.
But Wyoming still lags behind other advanced economies in providing high-quality, universal preschool programs to help all of our kids get a strong start to their educations. We see wide disparities in educational outcomes across racial and socioeconomic lines. A college degree or another form of post-secondary education is increasingly required for jobs that pay a middle-class wage, but graduation rates have stagnated for low-income students. And the high cost of college has required too many Wyomingites to take out staggering student loans or put a degree out of reach entirely. Our current education system is selling Wyoming’s children and young people short. Wyoming Young Democrats are committed to making good public schools available to every child, no matter what zip code they live in, and at last making debt-free college a reality for all.
A. Preschool and K-12 Education
Wyoming Young Democrats believe we must have the best-educated population and workforce in the nation. A strong public education system is an anchor of our democracy, a propeller of the economy, and the vehicle through which we help all children achieve their dreams. Public education must engage students to be critical thinkers and civic participants while addressing the wellbeing of the whole child.
I. Preschool and Afterschool Programs
Wyoming must make early childhood education and universal preschool a priority, especially in light of new research showing how much early learning can impact life-long success. We believe in investing in early childhood programs like Early Head Start that provide every family with access to high-quality childcare and high-quality preschool programs. We support efforts to raise wages for childcare workers, and to ensure that early childhood educators are experienced and high-quality.
We also support increased investments in afterschool and summer learning programs, which help working families, keep kids safe, and inspire learning at a time when many students are left unsupervised. We must find ways to encourage mentoring programs that support students in reaching their full potential.
II. Academic Standards
Democrats believe all students should be taught to high academic standards. Schools should have adequate resources to provide programs and support to help meet the needs of every child. We will hold schools, districts, communities, and states accountable for raising achievement levels for all students—particularly low-income students, students of color, English Language Learners, and students with disabilities.
1. We believe the study of evolution in our schools is essential to students receiving a quality education. The Young Democrats of Wyoming oppose all attempts to abolish or undermine the place of evolution in the public education curriculum, including the addition of disclaimers to the evolution and the presentation of theories unsupported by scientific evidence as scientific alternatives to evolution.
2. We believe young people should be equipped with the information, skills and support they need to make healthy decisions. We support middle and intermediate through high school-mandated, medically-accurate, age appropriate sexual health education programs that include information on contraception, methods to prevent unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections and diseases. The programs should promote healthy attitudes on adolescent growth and development, body image, gender and sexuality, dating, relationships, and family.
3. Educational avenues teaching humanities, arts, and career technology education courses are an important cultural aspect of education that we believe cannot be excluded from our students educations. These include Wyoming cultural specific values.
III. Standardized Testing
We are deeply committed to ensuring that we strike a better balance on testing so that it informs, but does not drive, instruction. To that end, we encourage our State to develop a multiple measures approach to assessment, and we believe that standardized tests must be reliable and valid. We oppose high-stakes standardized tests that falsely and unfairly label students of color, students with disabilities and English Language Learners as failing; the use of standardized test scores as basis for refusing to fund schools or to close schools; and the use of student test scores in teacher and principal evaluations, a practice which has been repeatedly rejected by researchers. We support enabling parents to opt their children out of standardized tests without penalty for either the student or their school.
IV. Students with Disabilities
We believe we must fulfill our federally mandated commitment to provide a meaningful education to students with disabilities, and work towards full funding of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act so that students with disabilities can receive the resources and services they need. With a well-supported educational foundation, children with disabilities will thrive.
V. Our Educators
We recognize and honor all the professionals who work in public schools to support students' education—teachers, education support professionals, and specialized staff. We know that good teachers are essential to improving student learning and helping all students to meet high academic standards. We will ensure that teachers receive the tools and ongoing professional development they need to succeed in the classroom and provide our children with a world-class education. We also must lift up and trust our educators, continually build their capacity, and ensure that our schools are safe, welcoming, collaborative, and well-resourced places for our students, educators, and communities.
VI. Eliminating Opportunity Gaps
The Young Democrats of Wyoming are committed to eliminating opportunity gaps—particularly those that lead to students from low-income or minority communities arriving on day one of kindergarten several years behind their peers. This means advocating for labor and public assistance laws that ensure poor parents can spend time with their children. This means raising household incomes in poor communities. It means ensuring children have health care, stable housing free of contaminants, and a community free of violence in order to minimize the likelihood of cognitive delays. It means enriching early childhood programming to prepare children in areas such as literacy, numeracy, civic engagement, and emotional intelligence. It means supporting equitable and adequate state funding for public education, and expanding Title I funding for schools that serve a large number or high concentration of children in poverty. It means ending curriculum gaps that maintain and exacerbate achievement gaps.
We support policies that motivate rather than demoralize our educators. We are committed to ensuring that schools that educate children in poverty are not treated unfairly, which is why we will end the test-and-punish version of accountability that does no more than reveal the many opportunity gaps facing students from low-income communities.
We will end the school-to-prison pipeline by opposing discipline policies which disproportionately affect African Americans and Latinos, Native Americans and Alaska Natives, students with disabilities, and youth who identify as LGBTQIA+. We will support the use of restorative justice practices that help students and staff resolve conflicts peacefully and respectfully while helping to improve the teaching and learning environment. And we will work to improve school culture and combat bullying of all kinds.
VII. Charter Schools
We are committed to providing parents with high-quality public school options and expanding these options for low-income youth. We support democratically governed neighborhood public schools and high-quality public charter schools, and we will help them disseminate best practices to other school leaders and educators. We oppose for-profit charter schools focused on making a profit off of public resources. We believe that high-quality public charter schools should provide options for parents, but should not replace or destabilize traditional public schools. Charter schools must reflect their communities, and thus must accept and retain proportionate numbers of students of color, students with disabilities and English Language Learners in relation to their neighborhood public schools. We support increased transparency and accountability for all charter schools.
B. Higher Education
Young Wyoming Democrats believe all everyone should be able to lead happy, successful lives. That’s why we’re dedicated to ensuring every generation has access to a quality education and the tools to drive our economy forward. Our country is strongest when our workers are trained with the knowledge and ingenuity to perform at the highest levels. Everyone should have the opportunity to reach that horizon and to fulfill the American Dream.
We know that as the global marketplace grows more competitive, we need to expand opportunities for higher education and job training. We are committed to increasing the college-completion rate as well as the share of students who are prepared for budding industries with specific job-related skills. Young Wyoming Democrats recognize education as the most pressing economic issue in Wyoming’s future, and we cannot allow our State to behind in a global economy. We must prepare our generation and the next generation for success in college and the workforce, and implement incentives to encourage students to thrive, raise their families, and work in Wyoming post-graduation.
I. Debt-Free College
Wyoming Young Democrats believe that in our State, if you want a higher education, you should always be able to get one: money should never stand in the way. Cost should not be a barrier to getting a degree or credential, and debt should not hold you back after you graduate. Bold new investments by the federal government, coupled with our State reinvesting in higher education and colleges holding the line on costs, will ensure that Wyomingites of all backgrounds will be prepared for the jobs and economy of the future. We are unified in their strong belief that every student should be able to go to college debt-free, and working families should not have to pay any tuition to go to public colleges and universities.
1. We support the Hathaway Scholarship in its purpose to expand access to a college education to all Wyomingites. We recognize that undocumented students are Wyoming’s youth, too. Yet they cannot receive federally-funded student financial aid, including loans, grants and scholarships. We support any measure that moves to strike a better balance between need-based and merit-based Hathaway Scholarship recipients and that includes undocumented students.
2. We support restoring the Overseas Combat Veteran Tuition Program. Our veterans deserve the best educational opportunities our State can offer.
II. Predatory For-Profit Schools
We will continue to crack down on for-profit schools that take millions in federal financial aid—often as their principal source of revenue—and then exploit students and burden them with debt rather than educating them. That is why we will strengthen the gainful employment rule to ensure that for-profit schools enable students to complete their degrees and prepare them for work. We will go after for-profits that engage in deceptive marketing, fraud, and other illegal practices. We will also exercise our responsibility in oversight over the Department of Education to carry out their obligation to close down those for-profit schools that consistently engage in fraudulent and illegal conduct. It is unacceptable that for-profit schools with low graduation rates keep encouraging their students to take out federal loans they will have trouble paying back. Therefore, to the maximum extent possible, we will also encourage widespread relief and the forgiveness of debt to those students harmed by the practices of fraudulent institutions.
C. Title IX
Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 marked a turning point in education for everyone - especially women. We are committed to realizing the full promise of Title IX - that in our public educational system no one face discrimination or harassment on the basis of their gender.
5. ELECTORAL REFORM
Our right to vote is sacred and fundamental. We believe that we must protect Americans’ right to vote, while stopping corporations’ outsized influence in elections. We must rectify the Supreme Court decision gutting the Voting Rights Act, which is a profound injustice. We will stop efforts by Republican legislators to disenfranchise people of color, low-income people, and young people, and prevent these voters from exercising their right to vote through onerous restrictions. We will ensure that election officials comply with voting protections, including provisions mandating bilingual materials and voter assistance. And we will fight to reform our broken campaign finance system, which gives outsized influence to billionaires and big corporations. It’s time we give back control of our elections to those to whom it belongs—the American people.
A. Voting Rights
The right to vote is at the heart of our vision. It is a core principle of the Young Democrats of Wyoming to maximize voter participation for all. Our democracy suffers when Wyomingites do not or cannot participate. We must make it easier to vote, not harder.
We must restore the full protections of the Voting Rights Act. We will bring our democracy into the 21st century by expanding early voting and vote-by-mail, implementing universal automatic voter registration and protecting same-day voter registration, ending partisan and racial gerrymandering, and making Election Day a holiday. We will restore voting rights for those who have served their sentences. And we will continue to fight against discriminatory voter identification laws, which disproportionately burden young voters, diverse communities, people of color, low-income families, people with disabilities, and the elderly.
In Wyoming, we’re fortunate we don’t face long lines at voting booths but we need to ensure that all registration materials, voting materials, polling places, and voting machines are truly accessible to seniors, people with disabilities, and citizens with limited English proficiency. We will support our local, county, and state governments in their efforts to upgrade old voting equipment and machines with modern systems, including voter-verified paper ballots, to ensure that all voters are able to exercise this sacred right in the quickest, most convenient, secure and accurate manner possible.
B. Getting Big Money out of Politics
Young Wyoming Democrats believe we must fight to preserve the essence of the longest standing democracy in the world: a government that represents the people, not just a handful of powerful and wealthy special interests. We will fight for real campaign finance reform in our State. Big money is drowning out the voices of everyday Wyomingites, and we must have the necessary tools to fight back and safeguard our electoral and political integrity.
Young Wyoming Democrats support a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United and Buckley v. Valeo. We need to end secret, unaccountable money in politics by requiring, through executive order or legislation, significantly more disclosure and transparency—by outside groups, federal contractors, and public corporations to their shareholders. We need to amplify the voices of the American people through a small donor matching public financing system. We need to overhaul and strengthen the Federal Election Commission so that there is real enforcement of campaign finance laws. And we need to fight to eliminate super PACs and outside spending abuses.
Our vision for democracy is a nation in which all people, regardless of their income, can participate in the political process and can run for office without needing to depend on large contributions from the wealthy and the powerful.
6. A Living Wage for Legislators
Women, young people, and working people are all systemically discouraged from serving in the Wyoming State Legislature because doing so is essentially volunteer work. Without compensation, it is exceedingly difficult for people who are the primary caregivers for children and for people with full-time jobs to assume responsibilities for legislative business. We need a diversity of voices and experiences among our elected officials. In order to allow young people, working people, and women greater opportunity to serve in the Wyoming State Legislature, the Young Democrats of Wyoming support paying state legislators a living wage.
7. GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY AND OPENNESS
Our elected officials are just that: “ours.” They should be transparent and open to us, their electorate. That means they must be reachable and represent our goals as a community. The young democrats of Wyoming desire the acknowledgement and acceptance of all their constituency. Not only that--our politicians must also showcase and be held accountable to disclose their funders. Special interests should be held in check by the transparency and connectivity of voter to elected official. Without transparency our state and nation will fall to special interest and wealthy corporations.
Energy is a topic deeply connected with Wyoming’s economy and culture. With this in mind, the views on energy of young Wyoming Democrats is to bolster the economy with a diversified and sustainable long term solution. In the near term wyoming will continue to utilize fossil fuels. However, we believe that a economy that is truly diversified starts with diversifying the power utilization across the state.
Wyoming has some the strongest potential for wind, solar, & even geothermal energy production. Embracing the fact that climate will change and that energy will remain one of the most sought after commodities of the future; Wyoming young democrats believe that taxing that future will be part of state revenue and thus linked to our economic stability. This perspective should be spread across all energy production techniques. Our perception is that the high tax on wind should be reduced and that fossil fuels, that continue to leave vagrant sights with little to no thought of reclamation, should be taxed at a level equivalent to the damage they incur upon the public land they utilize.
Finally, producing large sustainable energy production systems derived from alternative systems will allow for distribution of this energy to our surrounding states to aid in their reduction of fossil fuel use. This is the next generation economy that will allow Wyoming to grow and prosper in the economy of the future.
We as Young Democrats in Wyoming acknowledge, accept, and universally accept that our climate is changing, and human industrialization across the planet is the predominant cause.
With that as a starting point, Wyoming Young Democrats believes in wyoming in preserving the wonderful public lands across Wyoming. Preserving our clean water, open spaces, and wildlife are of the highest priorities for our population and our state. Working with all stakeholders to preserve the cultural heritage of ranching in tandem with honoring the original domain of our native tribes and the wild lands that represent the land’s history.
Preserving the sanctity of our natural wonders in wyoming will require standing up to private and corporate interests that utilise public lands. Further, if our officials deem a use of land, we believe that we must hold those entities that use our land to the highest level of governorship. Cleaning up after mineral and land development needs to be place at the feet of those who take our resources and leave out wonderful beauty in tatters. Mines and fuel extraction sites should be returned to their natural state. While using these resources steps also must be made to preserve and protect the wildlife that live or migrate in the region.
Health care is a right, not a privilege. And our health care system should put people before profits. Thanks to the hard work of President Obama and Democrats in Congress, we took a critical step toward the goal of universal health care by passing the Affordable Care Act, which has covered 20 million more Americans and ensured millions more will never be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition - and has allowed many of Wyoming’s youth to stay on our parent’s plan until age 26.
Wyoming Young Democrats are proud to be part of the party that has been fighting to secure universal health care for the American people for generations, and passed Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In Wyoming, we will tackle the problems that remain in our healthcare system, including cracking down on runaway prescription drug prices and addressing mental health with the same seriousness that we treat physical health. We will fight Republican efforts to roll back the clock on women’s health and reproductive rights.
Living in a rural state, Young Wyoming Democrats believe your zip code or census tract should not be a predictor of your health, which is why we will make health equity a central part of our commitment to revitalizing communities left behind. We believe that all healthcare services should be culturally and linguistically appropriate, and that neither fear nor immigration status should be barriers that impede health care access. We will never falter in our generations-long fight to guarantee health care as a fundamental right for every Wyomingite.
A. Medicaid Expansion
We will keep fighting until the ACA’s Medicaid expansion has been adopted in Wyoming. We’re one of nineteen states have not yet expanded Medicaid. This means that thousands of low-income Wyomingites still lack health insurance and are not getting the care they need. Additionally, health care providers, clinics, hospitals, and taxpayers are footing a higher bill when people without insurance visit expensive emergency rooms.
B. Supporting Community Health Centers
We must renew and expand our commitment to organizations such as Wyoming Health Council and Community Health Centers, as well as community mental health centers and family planning centers. These health centers provide critically important, community-based prevention and treatment in underserved communities, prevent unnecessary and expensive trips to emergency rooms, and are essential to the successful implementation of the ACA. We will fight for a comprehensive system of primary health care, including dental, mental health care, and low-cost prescription drugs. Young Wyoming Democrats also know that one of the key ingredients to the success of these health centers is a well-supported and qualified workforce in community-based settings. We will fight to train and support this workforce sorely need in our rural State.
C. Reducing Health Care and Prescription Drug Costs
For too many of us, health care costs are still too high, even for those with insurance. And medical debt is a problem for far too many working families. Young Wyoming Democrats will also work to end surprise billing and other practices that lead to out-of-control medical debt that place an unconscionable economic strain on Wyoming households. Democrats will keep costs down by making premiums more affordable, reducing out-of-pocket expenses, and capping prescription drug costs. And we will fight against insurers trying to impose excessive premium increases.
Young Wyoming Democrats will fight any attempts by Republicans to privatize, voucherize, or “phase out” Medicare as we know it. And we will oppose Republican plans to slash funding and block grant Medicaid and SNAP, which would harm thousands of Wyoming families.
It is unacceptable that the United States pays, by far, the highest prices in the world for prescription drugs and that too many Wyomingites cannot afford to fill their prescriptions. A lifesaving drug is no good if it is unaffordable to the very people who need it most. And many drug companies are spending more on advertising than on research. The largest pharmaceutical companies are making billions of dollars per year in profits at higher margins compared to other industries while many stash their profits in offshore tax havens. Meanwhile, they charge us thousands of dollars for new drugs—often at much higher costs than in other developed nations. We are committed to investing in the research, development, and innovation that creates lifesaving drugs and lowers overall health costs, but the profiteering of pharmaceutical companies is simply unacceptable.
D. Enabling Cutting-Edge Medical Research
Young Wyoming Democrats believe we must accelerate the pace of medical progress, ensuring that we invest more in our scientists and give them the resources they need to invigorate our fundamental studies in the life sciences in a growing, stable, and predictable way. That’s why we support the expansion of stem cell research and medical marijuana research. We must make progress against the full range of diseases, including Alzheimer’s, HIV and AIDS, cancer, and other diseases, especially chronic ones.
E. Combating Drug and Alcohol Addiction
We must confront the epidemic of drug and alcohol addiction, specifically the opioid crisis and other drugs plaguing our communities, by vastly expanding access to prevention and treatment, supporting recovery, helping community organizations, and promoting better practices by prescribers. Young Wyoming Democrats are committed to assisting people struggling with addiction in our State to find and sustain healthy lives by encouraging full recovery and integration into society and working to remove common barriers to gainful employment, housing, and education. We will continue to fight to expand access to care for addiction services, and ensure that insurance coverage is equal to that for any other health conditions.
We should also do more to educate our youth, as well as their families, teachers, coaches, mentors, and friends, to intervene early to prevent drug and alcohol abuse and addiction. We should help state and local leaders establish evidence-based, age-appropriate, and locally-tailored prevention programs. These programs include school-based drug education programs that have been shown to have meaningful effects on risky behavior; community-based peer mentorship and leadership programs; and after-school activities that deter drug use and encourage life skills.
F. Treating Mental Health
We must treat mental health issues with the same care and seriousness that we treat issues of physical health, support a robust mental health workforce, and promote better integration of the behavioral and general health care systems. Recognizing that maintaining good mental health is critical to all people, including young people’s health and development, we will work with health professionals to ensure that all children have access to mental health care. We must also expand community-based treatment for substance abuse disorders and mental health conditions. As suicide continues to be a leading cause of preventable death in Wyoming, we need to restore funding in suicide prevention programs.
G. Reproductive Health, Rights, and Justice
Wyoming Young Democrats are committed to protecting and advancing reproductive health, rights, and justice. We believe unequivocally that every woman should have access to quality reproductive health care services, including safe and legal abortion—regardless of where she lives, how much money she makes, or how she is insured. We believe that reproductive health is core to all individuals’ health and wellbeing. We will continue to stand up to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood health centers, which provide critical health services to millions of people. We will continue to oppose—and seek to overturn—federal and state laws and policies that impede a woman’s access to abortion, including by repealing the Hyde Amendment. We condemn and will combat any acts of violence, harassment, and intimidation of reproductive health providers, patients, and staff. We will defend the ACA, which extends affordable preventive health care to women, including no-cost contraception, and prohibits discrimination in health care based on gender.
We will address the discrimination and barriers that inhibit meaningful access to reproductive health care services, including those based on gender, sexuality, race, income, disability, and other factors. We recognize that quality, affordable comprehensive health care, evidence-based sex education and a full range of family planning services help reduce the number of unintended pregnancies and thereby also reduce the need for abortions.
And we strongly and unequivocally support a woman’s decision to have a child, including by ensuring a safe and healthy pregnancy and childbirth, and by providing services during pregnancy and after the birth of a child, including adoption and social support services, as well as protections for women against pregnancy discrimination. We are committed to creating a society where children are safe and can thrive physically, emotionally, educationally, and spiritually. We recognize and support the importance of civil structures that are essential to creating this for every child.
H. Caring for our Seniors and Families
Our State faces a long-term care crisis that prevents too many seniors and people with disabilities from being able to live with dignity at home or in their communities. The vast majority of people who are aging or living with a disability want to do so at home, but face challenges finding and affording the support they need to do so. Programs that emphasize independence rather than institutionalization must be better structured to support them. Wyoming Young Democrats will take steps to strengthen and expand the home care workforce, give seniors and people with disabilities access to quality, affordable long-term care, services, and supports, and ensure that all of these resources are readily available at home or in the community.
I. Ending Violence
Young Wyoming Democrats are committed to ending the scourge of violence wherever it occurs —whether in our homes, streets, schools, military, or elsewhere.
I. Supporting Survivors
We will support comprehensive services for survivors of violence and increase prevention efforts in our communities and on our campuses. Young Wyoming Democrats will fight to bring an end to sexual assault—wherever it occurs, including on campuses— because everyone deserves a safe environment where they can learn and thrive, not live in fear. We will provide comprehensive support to survivors, and ensure a fair process for all on-campus disciplinary proceedings and in the criminal justice system. We will increase sexual violence prevention education programs that cover issues like consent and bystander intervention, not only in college, but also in secondary school.
II. Preventing Gun Violence
With 100 Wyomingites dying every year, Young wyoming Democrats believe that we must finally take sensible action to address gun violence. While responsible gun ownership is part of the fabric of our State, too many families in Wyoming have suffered from gun violence. We can respect the rights of responsible gun owners while keeping our communities safe. To build on the success of the lifesaving Brady Handgun Violence Prevention Act, we will fight to expand and strengthen background checks and close dangerous loopholes in our current laws; repeal the Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act (PLCAA) to revoke the dangerous legal immunity protections gun makers and sellers now enjoy; and keep weapons of war—such as assault weapons and large capacity ammunition magazines (LCAM's)—off our streets. We will fight back against attempts to make it harder for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives to revoke federal licenses from law breaking gun dealers, and ensure guns do not fall into the hands of terrorists, intimate partner abusers, other violent criminals, and those with severe mental health issues. There is insufficient research on effective gun prevention policies, which is why the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention must have the resources it needs to study gun violence as a public health issue.
The United States was founded as, and continues to be, a country of immigrants from throughout the world. It is no coincidence that the Statue of Liberty is one of our most profound national symbols. And that is why Young Wyoming Democrats believe immigration is not just a problem to be solved, it is a defining aspect of the American character and our shared history.
The Young Democrats of Wyoming support legal immigration, within reasonable limits, that meets the needs of families, communities, and the economy as well as maintains the United States’ role as a beacon of hope for people seeking safety, freedom, and security. People should come to the United States with visas and not through smugglers. Yet, we recognize that the current immigration system is broken.
More than 11 million people are living in the shadows, without proper documentation. The immigration bureaucracy is full of backlogs that result in U.S. citizens waiting for decades to be reunited with family members, and green card holders waiting for years to be reunited with their spouses and minor children. The current quota system discriminates against certain immigrants, including immigrants of color, and needs to be reformed to the realities of the 21st century. And there are real questions about our detention and deportation policies that must be addressed.
We reject attempts to impose a religious test to bar immigrants or refugees from entering the United States. It is un-American and runs counter to the founding principles of this country.
A. Keeping Families Together
Young Wyoming Democrats believe we need to urgently fix our broken immigration system—which tears families apart and keeps workers in the shadows—and create a path to citizenship for law-abiding families who are here, making a better life for their families and contributing to our communities and our State. We should repeal the 3-year, 10-year and permanent bars, which often force persons in mixed status families into the heartbreaking dilemma of either pursuing a green card by leaving the country and their loved ones behind, or remaining in the shadows. We will work with Congress to end the forced and prolonged expulsion from the country that these immigrants endure when trying to adjust their status.
We must fix family backlogs and defend against those who would exclude or eliminate legal immigration avenues and denigrate immigrants. We believe immigration enforcement must be humane and consistent with our values. We should prioritize those who pose a threat to the safety of our communities, not hardworking families who are contributing to their communities. We will end raids and roundups of children and families, which unnecessarily sow fear in immigrant communities.
We should ensure due process for those fleeing violence in Central America and work with our regional partners to address the root causes of violence. We must take particular care with children, which is why we should guarantee government-funded counsel for unaccompanied children in immigration courts. We should consider all available means of protecting these individuals from the threats to their lives and safety—including strengthening in-country and third-country processing, expanding the use of humanitarian parole, and granting Temporary Protected Status.
Those immigrants already living in Wyoming, who are assets to our communities and contribute so much to our State and throughout the nation, should be incorporated completely into our society through legal processes that give meaning to our national motto: E Pluribus Unum.
B. DREAMers and DACA
And while we continue to fight for comprehensive immigration reform, we will defend and implement President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals and Deferred Action for Parents of Americans executive actions to help DREAMers, parents of citizens, and lawful permanent residents avoid deportation. We will build on these actions to provide relief for others, such as parents of DREAMers. We will support efforts by states to make DREAMers eligible for driver's licenses and in-state college tuition, and we will support the implementation of sanctuary status within the Wyoming education system. We will invest in culturally-appropriate immigrant integration services, expand access to English language education, and promote naturalization to help people who are eligible for citizenship take that last step.
C. Immigrants in the Armed Forces
We oppose deportations of immigrants who served in our armed forces, and we want to create a faster path for such veterans to citizenship. We support programs such as Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest, or Mavni, a program introduced in 2009 to recruit immigrants with certain language and other skills that are in short supply into the armed forces. We want to honor the promises of citizenship made to war veterans and their families.
D. Law Enforcement and Detention Centers
We will promote best practices among local law enforcement, in terms of how they collaborate with federal authorities, to ensure that they maintain and build trust between local law enforcement and the communities they serve. We will also vigorously oversee any programs put in place, to make sure that there are no abuses and no arbitrary deportation programs.
We will fight to end federal, state, and municipal contracts with for-profit private prisons and private detention centers. In order to end family detention, we will ensure humane alternatives for those who pose no public threat. We recognize that there are vulnerable communities within our immigration system who are often seeking refuge from persecution abroad, such as LGBTQIA+ families, for whom detention can be unacceptably dangerous.
E. Refugee Status
We support the implementation of a refugee status for immigrants fleeing from corruption, inadequate living conditions, violence, poverty, or war, and we are against the holding of people in detention centers. We are against the deportation of any immigrant unless there is a serious criminal charge beyond their refugee and immigration status.
12. LAW AND JUSTICE
We believe, as young democrats, that the current policies behind strong armed sentencing and the systemic racial bias of current prison populations must be reformed and further that progress be made to reduce the current pathway toward pineal persecution for our youth and minorities. This begins at the formation of the laws with undesired often racial repercussions, then flowing through to overly strict prosecution of first time offenses to sentencing by judges. The whole process must be amended to alleviate the personal and community destruction that is a byproduct of our judicial system. The legal system should be there to support and encourage the unity our communities, not divide them by extreme sentencing when alternatives exists that lead to more productive members and communities.
13. CANNABIS LAW REFORM
The current laws regarding marijuana encourage illicit production and distribution, lead to law-enforcement resentment, and effectively exempt marijuana from taxation. We support medical cannabis and realize the medicinal potential of cannabis and hemp products. Medical marijuana can lessen the need for dangerous opiate use, and provide natural medicine to those with chronic pain, seizures, and any other medical ailments deemed by a medical provider appropriate for treatment. The Young Democrats of Wyoming support the legalization, regulation, and taxation of marijuana at the state and national levels. We support fresh start legislation for non-violent offenders of current cannabis laws whose lives have been negatively impacted by the cannabis prohibition. We further urge the immediate decriminalization of possession and use of both medical and recreational marijuana in the state of Wyoming.
14. RESTORE THE MIDDLE CLASS
We must break down all the barriers holding working families back and restore the basic bargain that built the middle class: If you work hard and play by the rules, you can get ahead and stay ahead. The system is not working when we have a rigged economy in which ordinary Wyomingites work longer hours for lower wages, while most new income and wealth goes to the top one percent. For far too long Wyoming Republican governors, legislators, and their corporate allies have launched attack after attack on workers’ fundamental rights to organize and bargain collectively.
Too many Wyoming families are living paycheck to paycheck, and hallmarks of a middle class life—owning a home, having access to affordable and quality childcare, retiring with dignity—feel out of reach. It is no wonder so many Wyomingites feel like the deck is stacked against them. Young Wyoming Democrats believe that supporting workers through higher wages, workplace protections, job training, policies to balance work and family, and other investments will help rebuild the middle class for the 21st century.
A. Creating Good-Paying Jobs
We’ve been stuck in boom-and-bust cycle dependant on the energy industry, watching workers come and go, leaving ghost towns in their wake. It’s time to break the cycle.
Young Wyoming Democrats know that nothing is more important than creating good-paying jobs that can support a middle-class life—from nurses, firefighters, and teachers to construction workers, factory workers, and small business owners. That is why we are committed to doing everything we can to build a full-employment economy, where everyone has a job that pays enough to raise a family and live in dignity with a sense of purpose. We will build strong, sustained, shared economic growth.
If we are serious about reversing the decline of the middle class, we need major investments to put Wyomingites back to work in decent paying jobs in both the public and private sectors. The climate emergency and the need to expand the middle class demand that we make the most ambitious investment in infrastructure. We can put Wyomingites to work updating and expanding our roads, bridges, public transit, airports, and railroads. We will build 21st century energy and water systems, modernize our schools, and continue to support the expansion of high-speed broadband networks.
B. Supporting Small Businesses
Young Wyoming Democrats will make it easier to start and grow a small business in Wyoming. By supporting small business and entrepreneurship, we can grow jobs faster. We will cut the red tape that holds back small businesses and entrepreneurs. We will open up access to credit because we know that small businesses are some of the best job creators in our country. We will provide tax relief and tax simplification. And we will expand access to new markets because every American small business should be able to tap new markets — whether across their city, across their state, or around the world. We will support targeted funding and support for entrepreneurship and small business growth in underserved communities. We will fight against across-the-board cuts, as they are ineffective and create long-term consequences, to programs and grants we know benefit Wyoming’s small business community and economy. Young Wyoming Democrats also realize the critical importance of small businesses as engines of opportunity for women, people of color, tribes, and will work to nurture entrepreneurship.
C. Raising Workers’ Wages
Workers deserve a living wage, not a minimum wage. No one who works full time should have to raise a family in poverty. While the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour and enforced in our State, Wyoming’s minimum wage has stagnated at $5.15 an hour for almost a decade. This is unacceptable. Young Wyoming Democrats believe that Wyomingites should earn at least $15 an hour and have the right to form or join a union and will work in every way we can to reach this goal. We should raise the State minimum wage to $15 an hour over time and index it, give all Wyomingites the ability to join a union regardless of where they work, and create new ways for workers to have power in the economy so every worker can earn at least $15 an hour. We also support creating one fair wage for all workers by ending the sub-minimum wage for tipped workers and people with disabilities.
We support a model employer executive order or some other vehicle to leverage federal dollars to support employers who provide their workers with a living wage, good benefits, and the opportunity to form a union without reprisal.
D. Protecting Workers’ Rights
The Democratic Party believes that when workers are strong, America is strong. Democrats will make it easier for workers, public and private, to exercise their right to organize and join unions. We will fight to pass laws that direct the National Labor Relations Board to certify a union if a simple majority of eligible workers sign valid authorization cards, as well as laws that bring companies to the negotiating table. We support binding arbitration to help workers who have voted to join a union reach a first contract.
A major factor in the 40-year decline in the middle class is that the rights of workers to bargain collectively for better wages and benefits have been under attack at all levels. Donald Trump would make matters worse by creating a race to the bottom where the middle class is fighting over fewer and fewer good-paying jobs. In fact, Trump rejected some attempts by his own employees to unionize and has personally hired union-busting firms to undermine workers’ rights.
Democrats believe so-called “right to work” laws are wrong for workers—such as teachers and other public employees who serve our communities every day—and wrong for America. We will continue to vigorously oppose those laws and other efforts that would eliminate dues check-off procedures, roll-back prevailing wage standards, abolish fair share requirements, restrict the use of voluntary membership payments for political purposes, attack seniority, restrict due process protections, and require annual re-certification efforts. We oppose legislation and lawsuits that would strike down laws protecting the rights of teachers and other public employees. We will defend President Obama's overtime rule, which protects of millions of workers by paying them fairly for their hard work.
The Democratic Party believes consumers, workers, students, retirees, and investors who have been mistreated should never be denied their right to fight for fair treatment under the law. That is why we will support efforts to limit the use of forced arbitration clauses in employment and service contracts, which unfairly strip consumers, workers, students, retirees, and investors of their right to their day in court.
E. Affordable Housing
People sustain our communities. Wyoming Young Democrats support work to ensure that Wyoming remains full of vibrant communities where caring, experienced people are committed to your health, safety, and welfare. To do this they have to have a place to live.
We believe that without this cornerstone of the middle class, living in our communities, our towns, or our counties will buckle and break into classist, divided quagmires. Maintaining legal and physical protections for affordable housing are required to preserve our communities and must be expanded to allow for sustainable growth in our state.
F. Economic Fairness and Wealth Inequality
Representing the interests of the population is at the heart of the Young Democrats of Wyoming. That means that those with significantly higher levels of monetary success can afford to help those in need. A strong Middle class brings all of us together as a community and a people. A reasonable redistribution of extreme wealth from the highest levels to the aid of the masses is not an unreasonable solution. Wealthy Wyomingites can afford to help pay for our schools, our support structures & our infrastructure. By allowing all members of the greater Wyoming community to proper, our state prospers. This in turn leads to economic greatness in the equality state.
G. Tax Reform: State Income Tax
The Young Democrats of Wyoming believe Wyoming’s over-reliance on mineral industries for public funding ultimately harms the state and its people. We support the implementation of a state income tax in order to reform our tax system, particularly because any income tax in Wyoming will, by law, be progressive.
The Wyoming State Constitution contains a provision (Art.15 Sec. 18) that ensures any income tax implemented in the state will be a progressive income tax, disproportionately affecting the state’s wealthiest residents. Wyoming’s richest residents are among the wealthiest people in the United States, and they pay the lowest effective tax rate in the nation. This under-taxation of the rich exacerbates wealth inequality in Wyoming and frees the most privileged among us from paying their fair share.
Thus, an income tax would at once alleviate Wyoming’s dependence on mineral industries and work to mitigate wealth inequality.
15. RURAL COMMUNITIES
Wyoming rural communities, or as we traditionally call it “communities” are the basis for our state. Rural townships with their distinct character have shaped our people throughout the history of Wyoming. Looking to the future we must seek to preserve these cultural gemstones through expanding educational services allowing for retention of valuable community positions. Further that housing and historical values are kept as the basis for community expansion or change. As the ranching communities change the character of western culture must be maintained. By maintaining and further developing of wyoming’s rural community assets the Young Democrats of Wyoming value Wyoming’s heritage and future.
16. COMMUNITY SELF-DETERMINATION
We support giving our communities the right to self-determination in governing themselves regarding local issues as we recognize disparities between rural communities and larger cities, with regards to imposing additional taxes as long as they do not conflict with existing specific state statutes or civil liberties.
17. SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY
We, the Young Democrats of Wyoming, believe in science. Furthermore, we believe in climate change,whose primary agent of change has been and continue to be caused by human mismanagement of our fragile world.
It is imperative that science be allowed to and encouraged to find the truth, no matter how those truths reflect on history or current systems. We must allow science to grow creating new technologies that will inspire the human race and bring us together as a species.
Technology is the lifeblood of the economy of the future and through science Wyoming can and should be a part of that future. Efficiencies and new technology will create higher quality of life for many Wyomingites while diversifying our economy away from harmful resource extraction industries. Our economy doesn’t have to leave the energy sector completely; new renewable technologies can maintain the focus of energy production for Wyoming, and will instead lead a new chapter for our state and nation.