By JEREMY PELZER
CHEYENNE — State Rep. David Miller, R-Riverton, has seen the national debt rise above $15 trillion and protest movements grow around the country. Wealthy Americans are fleeing the country, he says, and confidence in the dollar has taken a hit around the world.
If America’s economic and social problems continue to escalate and spiral out of control, Miller said, Wyoming needs to be ready. So, he’s introduced legislation to create a state-run government continuity task force, which would study and prepare Wyoming for potential catastrophes, from disruptions in food and energy supplies to a complete meltdown of the federal government.
It would even look at the feasibility of quickly providing an alternative currency in Wyoming should the U.S. dollar collapse entirely.
Wyoming’s Department of Homeland Security already has a statewide crisis management plan, but it doesn’t cover what the state should do in the event of an extreme nationwide political or economic collapse.
The task force would include state lawmakers, the director of the Wyoming Department of Homeland Security, the Wyoming attorney general and the Wyoming National Guard’s adjutant general, among others.
Miller said he didn’t anticipate any major crises hitting America anytime soon. But Wyoming, which has a comparatively good economy and sound state finances, needs to make sure it’s protected should any unexpected emergency hit the United States.
“Things happen quickly sometimes — look at Libya, look at Egypt, look at those situations,” Miller said. “We wouldn’t have time to meet as a Legislature or even in special session to do anything to respond.”
Miller said the task force would look at whether, in the event the dollar loses value entirely, Wyoming should issue its own state currency or rely on old U.S. currency that would still have value.
While Miller said that doomsday scenario is unlikely in the short-term, the dollar has been losing value for years, and a gridlocked federal government has been unable to deal with enormous budget deficits.
“If we continue down this course, this is the way any society ends up — with a valueless currency,” he said.
In recent years, lawmakers in at least six states have introduced legislation to create a state currency, all unsuccessfully.
The legislation, House Bill 85, is expected to be debated on first reading in the House today, Miller said. The original bill appropriated $32,000 for the task force, though the Joint Appropriations Committee slashed that number in half earlier this week.
Miller said he hasn’t heard of any other states that are taking such a step to prepare for the worst. But he doesn’t want to wait for them to act first.
“I don’t represent people in Illinois or New Jersey. I represent people in Wyoming,” he said. “And I want them to be protected from any catastrophic events that may beset the rest of the country.”