DOWN to the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department for shutting down its COVID-19 testing site at the Event Center at Archer.

Department leaders say this action is necessary in order to “devote more resources to the vaccination effort.” So it will sound strange for us to be critical of this move when we have consistently pushed for faster vaccination against the deadly novel coronavirus.

But we believe there is a way for county officials to both test and vaccinate residents. Yes, it’s true that private health care providers throughout the county are offering COVID-19 testing. But we’re betting many people who would have used the county’s site won’t pay for a test at a doctor’s office (we hope we’re wrong).

We encourage the department to hold vaccination clinics three times a week, and offer testing the other two days. It’s clear there isn’t enough vaccine at this point to do more than that, so both of these efforts should be able to occur simultaneously. Because our fear is if the county stops testing, there won’t be enough information to know whether the virus is surging again, especially if the more contagious variants arrive in our area.

UP to the Cheyenne City Council for approving a contract to open up a parking lot and trailhead at the future site of an east Cheyenne park.

Although the city doesn’t currently have enough money to build playgrounds and other amenities, it’s important for the public to have access to the 100-acre site near the intersection of Pershing Boulevard and Whitney Road, if for no other reason than to help people catch the vision for what it can be in the future. That includes a Lions Park-sized space with baseball fields, a disc golf course and miles of trails, among other things.

Once public access to the land opens, though, it will be up to all of us to take care of it until it can become a more well-developed gathering place. Who knows, maybe a groundswell of community support will lead to a fundraising effort like the one that led to the installation of the splash pad at the Depot Plaza.

UP to Gov. Mark Gordon and leaders of the state’s seven community colleges and the University of Wyoming for working together on ways to diversify the state’s mineral-dependent economy.

In announcing the new Wyoming Innovation Network, Mr. Gordon said the goal is to better align the state’s higher education network with industry leaders in ways that meet both current and future workforce needs. And UW President Ed Seidel, who is chairing the steering committee that includes the community college presidents, said the goal is to achieve “economic vitality” in Wyoming.

Both are admirable goals, to be sure. But it will be important to quickly develop action steps, lest this become just one more ENDOW initiative – a lot of meetings that achieve very few visible results.

It’s also tempting to wonder why this hasn’t been done sooner. After all, it’s not like business owners and community leaders haven’t been discussing the lack of a sufficient workforce in Wyoming for years. In fact, the aforementioned ENDOW initiative had workforce development as one of its key objectives.

We’re not trying to rain on anyone’s parade here. We just hope this effort truly helps diversify the state’s economy. Otherwise, it’s not worth the time it took to write the press release about it.

DOWN to state Sen. Tom James, R-Rock Springs, and the nine cosponsors of a bill that would amend the state Constitution to require all new tax proposals to be approved by voters, rather than just the Legislature.

If approved, Senate Joint Resolution 1 would put the change on the 2022 general election ballot, letting voters decide whether they want to approve each tax proposal before it becomes law. To do so would seriously limit the state’s ability to respond to dramatically changing economic conditions. And in a state as heavily dependent on minerals as Wyoming, that boom-or-bust cycle is already volatile enough without hamstringing our elected officials.

We’re tempted to ask Mr. James whether he believes in representative government, and, if so, whether he thinks he’s not qualified to debate and decide what’s best for the state and its residents. After all, that’s why he and the other 89 members of the Wyoming Legislature were elected, right?

But we really know why this proposal exists, don’t we? Besides not wanting to pay more taxes themselves, these spineless lawmakers (including co-sponsor Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne) don’t want to take the heat when they do what has to be done to keep Wyoming’s economy afloat. More reasonable members of the Legislature need to see this nonsense for what it is and reject it as quickly as possible.

WE WANT TO KNOW WHAT YOU THINK: Contact us via email at opinion@wyomingnews.com.

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