As Park County lawmakers spoke to a group of local Republicans last week, they faced a barrage of questions about the 2021 General Session. But Sen. Tim French, R-Powell, may have gotten the toughest …
As Park County lawmakers spoke to a group of local Republicans last week, they faced a barrage of questions about the 2021 General Session. But Sen. Tim French, R-Powell, may have gotten the toughest grilling.
“I want to know, are you going to wear a suit and tie?” Cody Republican Bob Berry asked the new lawmaker. “And can we have a picture?”
The dozens of Republicans present at the central committee immediately burst into laughter. The idea of French — a Heart Mountain farmer and former Park County commissioner who’s most comfortable in jeans and a plaid shirt — donning formal attire has been the subject of ribbing since he announced his Senate candidacy last year.
“For your information, this is probably the last time you see me like this,” French somberly told the Park County Central Committee, “because once I’m sworn in, it will be suit and tie — which is over the top to me.”
The Wyoming Legislature has a fairly specific dress code. While in the House and Senate chambers, lawmakers are “required to dress in formal business attire,” according to policies laid out by the Legislature’s Management Council.
For women, that means “a suit or dress slacks, skirt, jacket, and dress blouse or suit-like dress and appropriate shoe.” As long as they’re covered by a jacket, sleeveless dresses are OK, but female lawmakers are asked to “be sensitive to skirt lengths and necklines.”
As for men, they must wear “a suit, or dress slacks, jacket, tie, dress shirt and dress shoes or dress boots. Boots must be polished.”
Lawmakers can don a bolo tie instead of a traditional one, “but the bolo must be worn tight with the top button of a collared shirt buttoned,” the policy says. And denim is flatly “not allowed.”
The responsibility of ensuring members are dressed professionally falls to the leaders of the House and Senate, who “will notify members who may not meet the dress code,” according to the policy.
However, they won’t have to expect any resistance from French on that front.
“I’ll do it,” he ruefully pledged to local Republicans last week, “because I signed on.”
French wasn’t exactly champing at the bit to get into his new duds; his wife Becky French disclosed to her fellow central committee members at the Jan. 7 meeting that “I purchased the last piece of his wardrobe only today.”
But by Tuesday, the senator’s new wardrobe was ready.
Donning a gray suit, blue shirt and bolo tie, French was formally sworn in as Park County’s newest senator on Tuesday morning; he replaced longtime Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody, who represented Senate District 18 for more than three decades before announcing his retirement last year.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, lawmakers beginning new terms were sworn in during separate ceremonies held over the span of more than a week. For instance, new state Rep. Rachel Rodriguez-Williams, R-Cody, took her oath of office on Friday, Rep. Sandy Newsome, R-Cody, formally started her second term Jan. 4 and Rep. Dan Laursen, R-Powell, did so on Jan. 5.
“As a new person, I’m drinking from a firehose and trust me, I’m trying,” French said last week. “Once I get over the suit issue, I’ll be OK.”