HB0166 | Education Savings Accounts-1

WFA STANCE: Supporting


STATUS: The Governor exercised his line-item veto authority on this bill – 3/21/24

SUMMARY: Click here to read a high-level synopsis of the bill that has been signed into law.

View the Governor’s letter and the specific strikethroughs: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1o9-5zsTmm02G_zjLY__DR4YnltDrk8Aw/view

View Text of the Bill: https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2024/hb0166

AN ACT relating to education; authorizing education savings accounts; creating the Wyoming education savings accounts expenditure account; providing for a transfer of funds to the Wyoming education savings accounts expenditure account; providing for the use and administration of education savings accounts for education; specifying duties of the state superintendent of public instruction; providing rulemaking authority; making conforming amendments; providing appropriations; authorizing full-time positions; and providing for effective dates.


Wyoming Family Alliance is tentatively monitoring this bill. There is much promise, but two things need to change to gain our full support:

  1. The bill includes a means test to determine whether a family can access the funds. This leaves some Wyoming families to pay taxes while not allowing them to access those funds to pay for their child’s education in the manner that best suits the child and the family’s needs. Therefore, the means test must be taken to improve this bill.
  2. The bill expands ESA’s into pre-kindergarten, which is separate from the classic K-12 education process. This issue likely breaks the rule that a bill must have one subject.
The shocking lack of Education Freedom in Wyoming & why we need HB0166 to pass!
HB0166 & Why Educational Savings Accounts are so crucial to creating an Educational Marketplace and fostering Education Freedom in Wyoming.


3/7/24 – This bill passed all the way through the Senate, avoiding a new version of Wednesday’s withdrawn amendment to impose the teaching of scientific theories such as evolution. The vote to defeat the amendment was a resounding “no” with 26 nays, only 4 ayes, and 1 excused. But afterward, the House voted not to concur. A Conference committee has been appointed to sort out the differences. Please pray that this will remain a good bill and that it gets the opportunity to become law.

3/6/24 – In Tuesday’s discussion of HB0166 Education Savings Accounts-1 in the Senate, Senator Cale Case (R- Dist. 25) raised concern about whether ESAs would fund teaching content he deemed unscientific. (Things like Creationism based on a literal Biblical interpretation, Climate Change Denial, and views against the efficacy of masks and vaccines for COVID-19.)

Then today, Senator Case brought an amendment requiring that teaching the Theory of Evolution was the only origin account acceptable for those receiving ESA funds. Interestingly, he didn’t recognize his own religious fervor and belief regarding a scientific theory that cannot be proven, replicated, or explained to the ultimate point of origin without directing great measures of blind faith.

Passionate arguments arose over both days of debate, with some defending Creationism and some defending the right to teach according to one’s beliefs. Near the end of the discussion, Senator Case withdrew his amendment, promising to revise it and bring it back for Thursday’s final consideration of the bill in the Senate.

We at Wyoming Family Alliance believe that the determination of an acceptable belief is outside the bounds of any legislative body, and we will always strive to defend this. Stay tuned to see how the Senate ends up deciding this matter later today.

Click here to watch clips of Day 1 and Day 2 of the debates over teaching Creationism in relation to HB0166. 

3/5/24 – Great news! This bill has now passed through the Committee of the Senate Whole. Thankfully, a destructive amendment that tried to remove 75% of the funding was rejected on the floor, and the appropriate funding was restored. This means there are only two more steps in the Senate, including the Senate Second Reading on Wednesday at 10:00 AM. 

Click here to watch the debate on the Senate Floor over this bill. (Start at 1:08:08)

3/4/24We are happy to announce that this bill has changed from “monitor” to “support” on our recommendation list. Significant changes have been made to the bill; today, the Senate Appropriations cut the funding to less than we would recommend. Wyoming Family Alliance President Nathan Winters provided testimony and answered questions from the committee. This bill now proceeds to the Senate Committee of the Whole, where it will likely be heard tomorrow.

2/28/24 – This bill was heard in the Senate Education Committee today, but with the amount of testimony left to be heard at the end of the scheduled time, the Committee held the hearing open until Friday so that more people could testify.

Wyoming Family Alliance President Nathan Winters testified regarding the hard work that has been done to ensure that this bill protects homeschool families and also gave several recommendations that can make the bill better.  (Click to watch the Committee Meeting. See testimony from Nathan Winters at 1:02:10).

As advocates for Education Freedom reflected by an Educational Marketplace where all families can choose the education that best fits their child (which includes ESAs), we still hope to see several amendments that will improve this bill so we can fully support it.

2/27/24 – Yesterday was a BIG day for this legislation as it went through the bill’s final reading in the House of Representatives. Eight Amendments were brought, and several of them were particularly bad.

Representative David Northrup (R- HD 25, Park County) brought an amendment based on the presumption that private schools are discriminatory.  The amendment called for a report to test whether private schools allow for transsexual and queer policies. Such an idea is not even required for public schools.

Thankfully, the harmful amendments were voted down, and the bill passed 44-18! It is now advancing to the Senate.

A big issue we continue to wait to be fixed is to have the means test taken out. The means test would determine whether or not a family can access the Educational Savings Account funds. This would leave some families paying taxes into the system yet unable to access those funds to pay for their own child’s education.

2/23/24 – The past week has been a roller coaster for this legislation. It made it through the Education Committee, only to have the House Appropriations Committee try to kill it. We give thanks that the House of Representatives rejected their recommendations and preserved the bill.

Several heroes of education freedom in the House have emerged from this battle over the last week. We look forward to writing a special commendation for them in the future.  

2/22/24 – This bill was referred to the House Appropriations Committee, which voted 5-4 not to recommend it. Thankfully, that is not the end of the line. The bill can be brought up and fixed today as the House of Representatives reviews it.  

2/20/24 – This bill passed 8 to 3 yesterday without any amendments. Wyoming Family Alliance president Nathan Winters was able to provide testimony in favor of ESAs and advocate for amendments to improve the bill. Wyoming Family Alliance will continue to monitor the bill and advocate for amendments that refine it and expand access to more families.

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