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Wyo. legislators seek ‘cowboy ethics’ code

Legislators in Wyoming want to stress living with courage, keeping promises, and finishing what you start. Legislators in Wyoming want to stress living with courage, keeping promises, and finishing what you start. (Stephen Berend/ News-Record/ AP)
Associated Press / February 24, 2010

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CHEYENNE, Wyo. - Some members of the Wyoming Legislature want to instill “cowboy ethics’’ in state law, lest lawmakers and citizens forget the state’s Western roots.

The code would stress the importance of living with courage, keeping promises, finishing what you start, and saying more by talking less.

Based on the “Code of the West’’ outlined in a 2004 book by James Owen, a Wall Street investor from Texas, Senate File 51 passed the Wyoming Senate last week and on Monday won unanimous approval from the House Minerals Committee.

The bill is a symbolic gesture that carries no criminal penalties and is not meant to replace any civil codes.

The full House of Representatives is expected to take up the bill soon.

Sponsor Senator Jim Anderson, a Republican, said Owen’s book captured his interest, and he was inspired to introduce the bill after seeing the December premiere of Owen’s related video project, “The Code of the West: Alive and Well in Wyoming.’’

Brent Hathaway, dean of the University of Wyoming College of Business, keeps a copy of the cowboy code hanging above his desk. “It’s a nice way to remind the young people or the business people that come into my office to say this is how we believe we should act toward one another,’’ Hathaway said.