Rep. Elaine Harvey of Lovell announced this week that she will not be running for re-election to her seat in the Wyoming House of Representatives in the upcoming election.
Harvey was first elected to office in 2002, taking office in January of 2003. Though she was involved with the Republican Party for a number of years as precinct chairman, served on a number of local school committees and even worked as a lobbyist for a while, she entered public office with literally no experience as an elected official. She spent the next 14 years in leadership roles on numerous committees and was involved in groundbreaking legislation throughout her career in the House.
During her first term in office, she served on the Labor, Health and Social Services Committee. She still serves on that committee, serving in her fourth year as chairman. Throughout those years, she has immersed herself in learning about the important issues the state faces in many areas in which the committee works.
She also served on the Agriculture, Water and Public Lands Committee during her first term and continued serving on the ag committee for two years. Following that, she served on the Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee for eight years.
During the 2004 interim, she chaired the Long Term Care Sub-Committee to study the medical and living needs of Wyoming’s aging population. Her next chairmanship was with the Select Committee on Developmentally Disabled People. That assignment lasted five years, during which time she worked with others on the committee to develop and restructure payment methods and standards for the disabled population and the people who serve them. She also chaired the Select Committee on Insurance Exchanges, now known as the federal Insurance Market Place. While chairing the committee it studied and rejected the notion of implementing a state-based health insurance exchange.
Harvey served on the “Super Committee” that prepared for the special session in 2005, a session that looked at tort reform and recruiting medical professionals like CNAs, nurses and medical doctors.
“We looked at educating more Wyoming students at the University of Washington Medical School, moving from eight students 20 students per year,” she said. “We helped community colleges to double the number of nursing students at every site and increased the number of nursing educators at the University of Wyoming.”
During her 14 years of service Harvey also served on several national task forces and chaired the Health Committee for the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) for two years. She vice-chaired that committee for four years. She chaired the Health Committee for the Council of State Governments – West (CSG-West) for one year and served as vice-chairman for two years. She served on the NCSL task force for the Affordable Health Care Act, as well.
“We were there to tell the U.S. Health and Human Services Department how the rules they were proposing would affect our respective states,” she said. “Very few of their ideas worked for low population, rural states. I now sit on the NCSL task force for health care innovations.”
Additionally, Harvey sat on the Milbank Foundation’s think tank called “Reforming States Group” for six years, where she worked on many public health issues.
She also worked with the Kettering Foundation’s “Civility Project” where she was trained to teach decorum, civility and the art of negotiation to other states and nations.
She graduated from the Western Legislative Academy in 2003, where she attended a class with then State Senator John Barrasso. She went on to the Henry Toll Academy and is fellow of the academy.
Harvey said she really enjoyed the camaraderie she experienced among her colleagues at the capitol but most of all she enjoyed going to bat for her constituents.
“Helping my fellow citizens has been a pleasure,” said Harvey.
For many years Harvey held the record for passing the most legislation and became trusted by her fellow legislators and was known for “doing her homework.”
“I’ve always thought of this as the people’s seat, not my seat,” said Harvey. “We have so much talent in our area, I feel confident someone will come forward and step into this wonderful world of public service and will have the opportunity to make a difference.”
She said the long hours may have been painful at times but the amount of work the legislature gets done in a short period of time has been extremely rewarding.
“I feel like we’re so different than Washington, DC,” she said. “It’s been so fun to get things done, to stay on top of topics. It’s also been fun to be in a place where you can make a difference in someone’s life. In that respect, I think constituent work has been the most rewarding of all; helping people get through the bumps in the road with state government has been a big privilege for me.”
Harvey will complete her term on Jan. 10, 2017.