Interview with Clifford Hansen
Transcript and audio of Clifford Hansen Interview conducted by John Hinckley.
Clifford P. Hansen was a Jackson Hole cattle rancher who became Wyoming's governor and then served two terms as a U.S. senator. He served as governor from 1963 to 1967, after defeating Teno Roncalio, Wyoming's sole congressman and a Democrat, in a bid for the Senate. As a senator, Mr. Hansen sat on the Finance and Veterans Affairs committees and was a ranking member of the Natural Resources committee.
HINCKLEY: Governor Hansen. When I talked to Governor Simpson last month, he reminded me of interesting parallels with your own life. Both of you were born in Jackson, Wyoming and married girls from Sheridan. Both of you were presidents of the University of Wyoming Board of Trustees and each became governor of Wyoming. From the governorship, both went to the United States Senate and each announced retirement well ahead of the scheduled election. I think he also indicated you were each lay-readers in the Episcopal Church. You have been governor for four years but for the last 11, now going into your 12th, you were in the United States Senate.
HANSEN: Well, I’m in the 11th actually.
HINCKLEY: Which is the best job?
HANSEN: Well, I think the Senate job is the most exciting job.
HINCKLEY: Would you rather be senator than governor?
HINCKLEY: It’s asking a great deal of you to think back that far, but can you think of anything as governor you might have done differently had you known what you now know as senator?
HANSEN: Well, basically, I’m certain that I made many bad judgments, many bad calls but I don’t have any particular thing in mind John that I would think of. I suspect when I gave a message to the legislature in 1965 recommending that the minimum wage be increased, I’ve had to conclude since then, having talked with a number of people that probably wasn’t a good move to make. Not that I am not fully in support of everyone earning whatever he can there in fact I’ve been...I’ve come to conclude a minimum wage law militates against young people getting jobs and against minorities finding work as easily as they might be able to. For that reason, I…..
HINCKLEY: That’s a policy matter. I was thinking more from the standpoint of just your address to the office. For instance, the governor’s relationship with the legislature. Or, more particularly, the governor’s defense of the state in this federal system from the point of view now as a senator. How should the governor comport himself or manage his office perhaps more effectively in that context of state/federal relationships than perhaps he does?
HANSEN: Well, it’s a difficult thing to know how best to maximize the effectiveness of the state government in the federal system and, particularly how best to pursue the role of governor in that context. As you know, I have not had any previous legislative experience when I became governor of Wyoming and as a consequence I’m certain many of the things I did then wouldn’t necessarily have be the way they might have been done by someone who had had the experience with the legislature as oftentimes many governor’s have had. Essentially, I do have a strong and continuing belief in the validity of state government. I think that our federal system works best when the role of the states is pretty much on an equal with the federal role. The thing that disturbs me now as it did then is the fact that all too often for a variety of reasons, the Congress of the United States, I think, invades the state’s role and that’s easily accomplished because of the access of the federal taxes and the ability on the part of the Congress of the United States to spend money that it doesn’t actually have.
HINCKLEY: Well this might be appropriate to introduce my first formal question I have here on my script, Governor. I read this to you the other night – I quoted TA Larson’s “History of Wyoming” in which he indicates that your 1965 message to the state legislature was the most progressive gubernatorial message in the state’s history. You stated in that message, “positive action to strengthen state government is the constructive way to oppose centralization.” “States rights,” you said, “Are without force unless they are coupled with state responsibility. We propose to accept every responsibility that we can’t successfully discharge at the state level.” Of course my question to you is – how well has Wyoming responded to that challenge?
HANSEN: I think quite well and in saying that, I would call attention, not to what I have done or failed to do but rather what I think has been accomplished by Governor Hathaway and Governor Herschler. I think in recognizing the increase in mining activity throughout the United States and particularly focusing upon the presence of vast amounts of coal in Wyoming, this state has done an excellent job in doing just what I suggested there should be done. I understand that most of the basic law that is now incorporated in the state mining law was written by Governor Hathaway right at his desk. He was the guy who outlined it and put it into words. I suspect not a lot of people may know that. He took the bull by the horns and decided what ought to be done. What demands ought to be made upon the mining companies and pretty well wrote that law. As a consequence, when we were talking about the need or the lack thereof of a federal strip mining law, I called attention to what Wyoming has done which I think is fully supported by the finding of Secretary Kleppe, former Secretary Kleppe, when he concluded that our state laws were at least as stringent and as demanding as was the federal bill proposed, there wasn’t a federal law at that time, and of course, we do have a federal strip mining law now and my understanding is that Secretary Andrus recognizes the continuing validity and acceptability of the state law so here’s an example of what Wyoming has done.
HINCKLEY: You mention Hathaway as having written that himself. He did indicate that during the first two legislatures that he did write an awful lot of the law himself. It was in this context, Governor, the lack of legislative leadership. Of course we’re speaking of the office and this is course the type of thing I’m interested in getting into the text of this thing – is how can that office itself be used in a way to strengthen states rights as you indicate that Hathaway did? Also, the office of the governor’s relationship to the state legislature as well as the total components of the executive office. For instance, the sharing of the executive powers with four other elected officers. Did you find that a disability in a vigorous executive?
HANSEN: I suppose there were times. As I recall, I think I had a few differences with at least one of the state officials. I don’t hold any ill feelings toward any of them. Dr. Cecil Shaw and I, as an example, disagreed a little bit on the role of the State Department of Education. But, by and large I found the competence and the very background of the state officials to be helpful. I would say that contrasting my term as governor with that of the present governor there is some advantage, I think, in having both parties represented. I recall the 1963 session of the State Legislature when the republicans were in solid control of the House and the Senate. I think about a particular bill that was passed, -- the right-to-work law that was passed -- I know that had some bipartisan support but whatever their reasons may have been, the republicans in the state legislature decided to do it by themselves, they were able to do it by themselves. It might have resulted in a little greater acceptability had their been bipartisan participation in that effort. That is, I think, illustrative of the advantages both parties working – I suspect I’m more keenly aware of that now than I may have been at the time now that I’m in the Senate because with 38 republicans and 62 democrats we find that we’ve got to work real hard in order to make our convictions felt in the legislation that’s been passed.
HANSEN: Another point that Governor Hathaway made was that one might assume that solid party control of the legislature is desirable. But, his discovery was where if you have too large a majority actually you find it more of a disadvantage and you have factions within that majority.
HANSEN: I would agree with Governor Hathaway. I think that is true. I think also that generally speaking better legislation will result when there is bipartisan participation to the degree that it is effective participation. I’ve thought, as I reflect back on those four years, which I cherish very much when I was in Cheyenne, that probably the 1965 session of the legislature presented a little more balanced, mature legislative program that probably the 1963 session. I think it was a pretty close call. As I remember, I think the senate was just barely in republican control and it was a very….
HINCKLEY: It was that legislature as I recall Governor that resulted very nearly in the repeal of right-to-work. I think it defeated by one vote. That is the repeal.
HANSEN: I think that’s probably right.
HINCKLEY: That would suggest that there was a stronger democratic majority which out of any context suggests another question, I’ll have to get back to this .. …the role of organized labor in Wyoming has been interesting to any student of government, And I’m reminded of a statement made by Tracy McCraken back in 1958, I believe it was in Cody – to the effect that both parties would be very well advised to pay more attention to the effects of organized labor as a force across the entire state – that within 15 years it would be a very significant political power—now he said that 20 years ago– he said within 15 years of that date– what is your reaction to that statement?
HANSEN: I think – first let me say that I have a very high regard for Tracy McCraken. He was one of the truly great Wyoming leaders in my opinion. But, in that context I think he probably was somewhat mistaken. I don’t think it has grown to be the force that he predicted it would be. As a matter of fact, I don’t think that while it…I would have to say, at the present moment I think that organized labor is the single most powerful lobbying force in Washington today. It occurs to me that there are chinks in the armor. When real tough calls come, it’s not able to deliver. I could site some specific illustrations….
HINCKLEY: That’s probably true in Wyoming.
HANSEN: Yeah. I think that right-to-work probably, as someone observed, isn’t as damaging to labor as labor may have felt that it was and it isn’t as helpful to management as management may have felt that it was. It becomes one of these “cause celebs” that you hear a lot about but really it isn’t all that important.
HINCKLEY: Professor Larson suggested this to me last week…perhaps labor did reach its peak in that ’65 session when it failed by that one vote – he was just using that as an index…it might very well have declined since. That’s a power within the state of Wyoming. It was rather interesting. Back to the management of the office -- You mentioned that you had a different experience because your legislature was of your same party whereas Herschler’s was not.
HANSEN: I meant to refer specifically to the five elected officials rather than to the legislature because all five of us, the years I was in Cheyenne, were republicans and Governor Herschler now is the lone democrat with four republicans on the board. With everything else considered, I’m sure I will not receive any republican accolades for saying this – I just have to think that overall you have a better legislation with a better balance all the way around when we have both of the major parties represented.
HINCKLEY: With any administration?
HANSEN: I would think so.
HINCKLEY: That’s interesting. Most of my respondents say it would probably be better to divide it better between the legislature and the executive. But the executive all in one party.
HANSEN: Well, I guess there’d be good reason….I happen not to agree with that statement.
HINCKLEY: Do you think the office of Governor…is the constitution as strong as it ought to be??
HANSEN: Well, I’m sure there are many times when one is frustrated -- it would be nice to have the power to do a little bit more than presently is constitutionally possible. I think it’s not badly organized, not badly set up. I have this feeling – few people have gone to the office any more naïve than was I. I think a strong executive can make his convictions felt --to make the office stronger constitutionally doesn’t necessarily ensure the success of every incumbent in the office by any means. On the other hand, it’s a popular thing to talk about reorganizing state government. This has often been a proposal by many of the governors.
HINCKLEY: To the conventional, more traditional powers of an executive, that for instance a student would simply be cataloging – appointment and removal – the appointment powers of a governor are very severely restricted by both statute and constitution. And of course he shares the --- Land Board and the Charities and Reform with four other elected officials. So, it is difficult for a student to compare that our governor, as he is described constitutionally and statutorily with say, where you have a gubernatorial cabinet type of executive.
HANSEN: Well, that’s an important point that you make, John and I would observe that…I do, I would support and I think it would make better sense if the governor had the authority to name heads of the various departments and commissions. Sometimes he does, often times, he does not. They may be chosen by their peers and as a consequence, it would seem to me that if a governor had the authority to name the different chairmen. The president of the University Board of Trustees, as you know, is elected. I should think just as an example that if we wanted to strengthen the office of governor, to this extent I think there could be some erring ( ??) in doing it-- that might be indicated-- have the governor given the authority to name a chairman in order that he could have a little more clout in seeing that a particular program that he thought had merit would be followed through.
HINCKLEY: What’s the explanation for having so many boards…the last time I counted there were about 120 boards and commissions in state government – ranging of course from boxing commissioner to the water control board or the state public service commission, that sort of thing. The question comes up of the political balance required on those boards oftentimes, and their overlapping tenure, 8, 6, 4 years, which makes the board itself electorally independent of the incumbent governor as one of the disabilities of gubernatorial management of this office. What’s the history of that, do you know?
HANSEN: No, I don’t know. That’s an interesting question that you raise giving rise to a lot of speculation. I don’t know why that was. I suspect in some instances the desirability of some continuity might have persuaded the early legislators to set the thing up that way or even I suppose some of these provisions go clear back to our constitutional convention or whatever mechanism may have been employed in setting up our constitution in the first place. While there is some advantage in not having every board subject to a situation where there’s a complete turnover all at the same time – I think there is some advantage in avoiding that situation. I would have to agree, as your question implies, it’s pretty slow sometimes to bring about much change if you have a rather multitudinous board insofar as membership goes in appointing only one or two, not much is going to happen very quickly.
HINCKLEY: You were four years…now if you had gone into the office with a very strong conviction and certain priorities that you wanted to accomplish you have only four years with which to do that – of course, unless you seek re-election. During that four year term you are really unable to really make a significant change in your government, did you find that to be…..???
HANSEN: Yes, I think that’s a fair conclusion to reach. I didn’t change all that many things. I have to observe, as you would know, as quickly as a person gets elected, he finds that all kinds of people around the state are completely persuaded that only by their diligent support were you elected in the first place and they all want a job and as I tried to weed out the applicants and we did that rather poorly the first time around because just parenthetically, the state chairman advertised all of the vacancies that there would be on each of the boards. He went to some effort and a perfectly legal thing to do and I don’t mean to apply any criticism at all except that it gave rise to a lot of unfulfilled aspirations – every county, or not every county, but most of the counties on the slate sent me letters with a full slate of persons they would like to have appointed. You sure don’t need that kind of help. The one person who gets the appointment wonders why it took you so long to discover his outstanding merits and the other 20 that didn’t get the job are very angry with you so that’s the not the sort of situation that necessarily helps. But I felt that I should not try to change everything in the state and I said that insofar as the heads of the various state institutions I would change those -- I would replace a democrat with a republican only if I were persuaded that the republican could do at least as good or a better job than was being done as the present time and as you know a number of the persons who stayed on who had taken an office under Governor Hickey, stayed right on under Governor Hickey. And Governor Gage, I think of Dr. Karn in Evanston and Dr. Harriford (?) in Lander and Dr. Coochall (?) up at Worland (I’m not sure he was a doctor). A lot of people stayed on. Some of the republicans were angry because we didn’t fire everybody but I just felt like if a guy was doing a good job he ought to be kept on and I note that tradition has kind of stayed with us.
HINCKLEY: You mention the party, as Governor Herschler pointed out, many of these would-be appointees are very political when they remind him of how much work they did for him to get him elected but they become statesmen the day after he appoints them.
HANSEN: (laughter) Very good!
HINCKLEY: The party as a tool for governorship. Did you make use of the party in affecting your own legislative desires? Or perhaps I should say, what was your philosophy concerning the governor’s role in lawmaking or policy making? Did you feel he should play an active role?
HANSEN: I think he should. Of course, that would be tempered by the depth of his conviction on the importance of the particular issue he was addressing. I think whatever is ethical and legal is all right to do and I suppose that certainly would include the partisan political process along with other things as well. I know Russell Long tells the story about his Uncle Earl. The question of how much ethics should be used in politics and Russell was on the debate squad in high school at the time –when his uncle found out he was on the affirmative side, he said to Russell, “Hell yes, use ethics! Use any damn thing you can to get elected.” I have to think that if you really think that something could be made better, if I understand your question, I would have no objection.
HINCKLEY: Did you as governor, have a legislative schedule of your own that originated in your office, that you did actually implement thought what I would call very legitimate executive lobbying.
HANSEN: I probably may have done as little of that as have most governors. I would suspect that some governors may have done for more than I did. Some of the things I thought needed to be changed -- we had some specific legislative proposals to make but on many of the issues, I didn’t have a whole complete spectrum of legislative proposals to cover every bill that was in the legislature.
HINCKLEY: You didn’t have an executive agenda?
HANSEN: You say I did not?
HINCKLEY: Did you?
HANSEN: On a number of issues that we thought were important we did have specific legislative proposals to make but not covering everything.
HINCKLEY: How did you manage those?
HANSEN: Usually through the press by calling attention to what I thought were solid reasons for doing something differently or doing it in a particular fashion and with visits with both democrats and republicans.
HINCKLEY: With their leadership of the majority and minority primarily?
HINCKLEY: Did you use the caucus at all?
HANSEN: Very little.
HINCKLEY: I was surprised. Milward Simpson said he never went to a caucus at all as governor
HANSEN: As a matter of fact, if I recall correctly when I went down to Cheyenne, never having been in that office nor having been in the legislature either one, a governor would get along better and be advised to kind of let the legislature work its will on most things and that’s about what I did. Now when you speak about a caucus you mean did I attend a legislative caucus? I suspect as near I came to attending that sort of thing and in all honesty I should say I did not attend a single one. We did have regular meetings with the leadership --- the house and senate leadership and they’d report on what had been going on in the past week and how a particular bill or an idea might be faring. I didn’t ever sit down with I would recognize as a caucus of legislators to decide how to handle something.
HINCKLEY: I was thinking initially of the party itself. Normally the parties will caucus two or three times a week during the legislative session.
HANSEN: The answer is I did not attend those?
HINCKLEY: It was fairly formal then, your role in the legislature.
HANSEN: I would say so.
HINCKLEY: Did you make any use at all of your department heads in the promotion of any bill that would be particularly appropriate to their…
HANSEN: I think that to a limit or a degree. I don’t recall that I got into that very often or did very much of it. I’m certain that on occasion we may have done some but I would say that would be rather minimal.
HINCKLEY: What was your veto record. Did you veto anything?
HANSEN: Yeah. Vetoed some. Don’t recall if I was overridden anytime. My memory is hazy.
HINCKLEY: What were some of your vetoes?
HANSEN: I’d have to think. Generally, the first thing that we did and I suspect it is continued today is to have the attorney general examine a bill and make a recommendation as to its constitutionality and ordinarily if we felt a bill wasn’t constitutional, that would be good enough reason to veto it.
HINCKLEY: What about the line item veto on appropriation bills? Did you have occasion to use that or was that a problem?
HANSEN: No, I don’t think that was a problem. We inherited a balance in the general fund when I became governors and we left with one too.
HINCKLEY: You may recall Governor Herschler’s reference to footnotes. He vetoed a lot of footnotes last time. That was the line item veto. They were legislative codicils on the appropriation and of course, the Wyoming governor has that unique power of the line item veto on appropriation bills.
HANSEN: I don’t recall that I ever did that any but my recall isn’t as good as…
HINCKLEY: Well, it was enough time back. It’s often been said that the item veto off the appropriation bill was of significant importance to justify the civil war and the confederate constitution did include that in the executive article that he does have the line item veto whereas our president does not. I don’t know whether you feel that strongly about it or not but a good conservative economizer you might. He can’t put any in but he can take it out.
HANSEN: Sure been a lot of argument on that point, as you know. I think generally speaking that I got along very well with the legislature. I need not observe for your benefit...the chairman of the joint senate house ways and committee was Dick Jones. I had worked rather closely with him and I continue to work closely with him the years I was in Cheyenne….
HINCKLEY: There were no surprises coming from the legislature as far as you were concerned?
HANSEN: No. There surely weren’t’. And I suspect too because the republicans were in control that made that probably a little bit more so than might be the case with the executive in one political party and the legislature in another.
HINCKLEY: Probably the most significant things in Wyoming historically that took place during your administration was the special session of 1964 on the reapportionment. My questions on that might be --- in retrospect, do you see anything you might have done as governor to have kept that from going into the federal court?
HANSEN: I’m inclined now to think that a little more patience on my part and a little more persistence on the part of the legislature may have been helpful. I think that I may have concluded too early on that we were helplessly deadlocked.
HANSEN: My feeling then and it continues to be my feeling is that sub districting makes good sense because otherwise in a county if an active political organization is operating I think you can find that one group will dominate an entire county. It seemed to me that a little fairer representation if we had sub districting so that each district could choose its own representative. Actually, I think that squares with my feeling about the way representatives should be chosen anyway. The difficulty that I encountered and one that I think should perhaps persuaded me too quickly to conclude that we weren’t going to reach any accord and that they just as well adjourn the legislature was the feeling that I had that they just weren’t going to get together. If I had been a little more patient and the legislature more persistent they might have carried on and eventually worked their will. The problem though we found –that eventually had to be resolved by the courts – and of course the court didn’t do it exactly the way I thought that it should have been done either – was to trying to get people from say a populace county like Laramie or Natrona to agree that some of them were going to have to give up their seats which is exactly what sub districting would have done. If I recall correctly, I think I was told – within Cheyenne –that would 36 city blocks -- could be found all of the legislatures that were then representing Laramie County. I don’t know for sure but I think it makes the point that here’s a small part of a city from which come all of the representatives to the state legislature.
HINCKLEY: You know the time factor there you mention in passing with the special session. Another factor in the time – that’s the 40-day session, 40-day limitation. Did you as governor detect any evidence of the abuse, or I shouldn’t say necessarily abuse – but of the effect of that 40-day session on the leadership within the legislature itself? In other words, the management of legislation in such a way that bills could not reach that...be handled in the 40-day session. It does play into the hands of leadership very much, that 40-day session.
HANSEN: I would say that’s true. I think that’s absolutely right. I’d probably – while I agree with you on that point, I don’t necessarily agree that we would have better laws or more responsible government if we went to a 12-month legislative session year-end and year-out. I happen to think that sometimes we ought to be judged and scored on the basis of what didn’t happen or what we prevented from happening with equally as much being attention given that as we do upon as what did happen. When people say what are your legislative accomplishments, I’m hard pressed to name any – though I do scrounge up a few. I would hope I might be remembered, as an illustration, as having helped defeat President Nixon’s welfare plan. I thought it was no damn good! Although President Carter has a similar one, I don’t think it’s any better either. I don’t think that necessarily success of state government should be measured in terms of the number of the laws that it passes. While it is true that skillful legislative leadership can certainly see that some bills with which it does not look favorably upon can be held back and not get a chance for lawmakers to take a crack at them. I don’t necessarily think that that’s too bad. I have to believe that one of the great virtues of state legislative participation and I think congressional participation, as well – at least in the past, at least the state legislature-- it wasn’t all that much of a full-time job. As a consequence, people of varying interests could be called upon and people in business could be called upon to participate. One of things that will be looked back upon by future historians with some sense of loss, is that if we make this too much of a profession, we’re going to lose the contribution that a lot of people could make who cannot take enough time to work full time being a legislator.
HINCKLEY: Of course, the biennial 40-day session does make ours a citizen’s legislature -- probably the most representative legislature in the United States. But of course, then again, the virtue is oftentimes monopolized by the disadvantages.
HANSEN: I think we’ve had a lot of laws, a lot of federal laws as an example that have been passed in changing conditions this is a very fluid world as we all know -- makes pretty much obsolete a session every other year as used to be the case. I don’t object to a session every year but I think, I hope that the legislature will not try to see how quickly they can extend and extend and extend the legislative session.
HINCKLEY: This, I’ve I mentioned particular aspects of Wyoming’s constitution and the government -- the address of reorganization of agencies, and strengthening the office of the governor and certain of these factors of the legislature deliver me to ask this question – why in your perception has apparently Wyoming sought or been forced to rewrite our constitution by amendments – there have been over 80 some, nearly 100 amendments, and in view of that background why not rewrite the whole constitution – a constitutional convention that considers all of these factors we’re talking about and start over again? What would be your feelings on a constitutional convention?
HANSEN: I suspect just talking off the top of my head and having no ? in mind at all I would say strong leadership might unduly influence such a convention and would lead to a situation wherein we might discard much that has been tried and tested and found to be pretty good.
HINCKLEY: Do you think interest groups now that they might distort -- you mentioned strong leadership – power groups –are they such now that…
HANSEN: Well let me give you an example just to illustrate the point. I suppose there would be some people that might feel at the present moment energy groups would be unduly strong and influential in the state. I’m sure on the other hand there would be a number of people associated with the development of Wyoming’s mineral resources and would fear that environmental groups might be strong. I was just thinking not so much about anyone particularly -- I was inclined to believe that a very strong person such as Thomas Jefferson – not that we’re going to find Thomas Jefferson every day but here is a man who greatly influenced our federal constitution and it would seem to me that if the times should produce someone who really exhibited those qualities of leadership that would cause people to rally around him. Ralph Nader here – I think his star is waning now but two or three years a lot of people could have been persuaded that one of the best way to do things might be to do it Ralph Nader’s way. I happen not to share that view. The point I was trying to make is that while we have amended some 80 or 100 times the state constitution – I haven’t kept track to see but I have to think there’s some merit in it – just as I think there are merits in our old fashioned morals – here a few years ago, we were practically ready to discard marriage as an institution. Now, the young people are finding that maybe there is some virtue and some merit in it. By the same token, if the point is valid pointed out, I would suggest that despite of what we’ve done, despite the fact we’ve amended the constitution a number of times and in effect gone around it, maybe the things that are good and are of continuing integrity have been kept and preserved that way. If we were to sit down and try to rewrite the whole thing, I would be fearful that we might get caught up and swept up in the enthusiasm that could be inspired by a particular leader and maybe go a little bit overboard one way or another. But I think now we’ve given pretty good balance to all of our concerns and if there are some that need to be focused upon a little bit more, we can catch that too.
HINCKLEY: So you’d be skeptical of the desirability of a constitutional convention -- say the state of Montana and what’s going to be the result of that.
HANSEN: I would be.
HINCKLEY: The question that was asked of me yesterday, and this was completely out of context. You were talking about the right-to-work law and the question was “did the governor have to have the National Guard at the capitol when the right-to-work bill was passed?”
HANSEN: Well, let me say this. Your question isn’t quite a fair one to say “did I have them there?” They were there. They were there without my knowledge. My concern reflected the anxiety of a member of the legislature – a former Carbon County neighbor of yours -- Marlin Kurtz, who was the Speaker of the House at the time. Earlier during the debate on the right-to-work law, there had been some notes – I think maybe just pieces of paper largely tossed down from the gallery to some of the legislature on the floor. Marlin Kurtz was fearful, because sentiments had been rather strongly expressed at the time, that conceivably things could get a little bit out of hand. He thought that if he were unable to control the situation in the House and the gallery was to become a little bit more physically --obviously than it was expected normally to be it might be a good idea to have enough backup authority so as to make certain that there was no loss of control by the leaders of the House of Representatives. As a consequence of his concern, I spoke to General Pearson and asked that he might have some guardsmen stand by in the event that the galleries in the House of Representatives section of the capitol became a little bit obstreperous. I didn’t know that they were going to have any guardsmen actually in the capitol building. I found out later, as we all know that they were there. They were never called out. Things never got out of hand at all. There were a lot of stories about calling out the guard.
HINCKLEY: As a matter of magnitude, the guard consisted of a few guardsmen?
HANSEN: I’ve forgotten how many were there.
HINCKLEY: If you’d have done that, that would have been within your constitutional role as commander in chief.
HANSEN: That’s right.
HINCKLEY: Did you have occasion to exercise that….
HANSEN: I don’t believe I did, John. As a matter of fact, about every time I believe we called out the guard I was out of the state and Thyra Thomson had to call them. Mostly, it would be to render some assistance in the case of a flood or something like that. I don’t recall calling them out for any purpose?
HINCKLEY: You never did? What use did you make of the patrol? Did you make any use of the highway patrol in domestic disturbances of any kind?
HANSEN: No, I don’t think I did. Those were fairly quiet years as I look back upon them. Poor Governor Hathaway inherited the violence of the late ‘60s and I think a lot of that came about….
HINCKLEY: What about ceremonial? That is the chief of state role. Did you have a lot of significance in that?
HANSEN: No, No., I’m not much to stand on ceremony as I’m certain was true of most Wyoming governors.
HINCKLEY: Of the ceremonial duties that you actually did have to perform – for example, I asked Governor Hathaway what was the most memorable such role in his administration and he said entertaining the Russians over in Coulter Bay.
HANSEN: Oh yeah. Well, I suspect probably the most significant occasion that occurred during my tenure was when President Kennedy visited the University campus – let’s see -- would have been about 1963 or ’64? He was elected in ’60. I think it was in the fall of ‘63 when he came to the campus of the University of Wyoming. There, all we did was to coordinate our activities with the secret service. They had everything all planned out. They knew the route that the president would take. Senator McGee was there with him, as you know. I think that was about…Well, we did have the King of Pakistan came into the state. I happened to be gone that time and Everett Copenhaver was the ranking state official so he and Mrs. Copenhaver accompanied…
HINCKLEY: Thyra was gone that time?
HANSEN: Thyra was gone and I was gone, that’s right.
HINCKLEY: Wyoming has a good succession law doesn’t it?
HANSEN: I think so. I really think it’s all right. That’s the nice thing – it’s a nice thing to be permitted to participate in.
HINCKLEY: A few policy questions, Governor Hansen and no context whatsoever. As I remember, you were a rather strong advocate of oil quota. Do you have any second thoughts on that now? Was that a good idea?
HANSEN: Well, actually, the idea of the mandatory oil import program or the quota program was to give sufficient incentive to the domestic oil producers to minimize our dependence upon foreign sources. There was never any doubt but what, at least a number of years ago; we could buy foreign oil much more cheaply than we can produce American-made oil. That’s all turned around of course. Now, maybe price wise, the foreign oil is much higher than is the domestically produced oil. Not that it would be if we had all controls taken off but the way the pricing program is now, actually domestic oil sells for an average of about $8 a barrel, give or take a few pennies. Foreign oil sells for around $13.60 or someplace around there, so it’s much higher. I think that the concept was a valid one. What happened as quickly as they had it written into law was that a number of interests started to see how they could circumvent it so that while the law did try to control a percentage of imports to about 12.2 percent of our domestic consumption, I think that when the law was finally repealed we were up to almost about 28 or 30 percent when you considered the crude that was imported in all the products.
HINCKLEY: Which of course, speaking of oil brings up the question of the severance tax and of course the mineral trust fund – part of our public resources. Do you feel that we might have been wise to have adopted a severance tax earlier than we did?
HANSEN: I suppose – I think that the point that I’ve heard mineral producers make in times past seems to me to be valid. I remember Harry Thorson who is now dead and very prominent in Wyoming politics saying that ...talking about what might be required of a bentonite producers insofar as reclamation was concerned. He said, “We don’t object to whatever reasonable reclamation requirements may be made upon us so long as we aren’t put at a competitive disadvantage.” I would have to say about the same thing as far as the severance tax on minerals go. Obviously, Wyoming mineral producers would feel put upon if Wyoming were to impose a tax far greater than might be imposed by surrounding states. Aside from that, I would say that no one likes to pay taxes. I can understand that full well. I think there can be little argument but what the mineral taxes we have imposed from now – the severance taxes do raise a lot of revenue. It’s a constant temptation for state government to become profligate in its expenditures. If you think that you’re rich, you may spend more than you need to. I’m a strong believer in the philosophy that at least in the part or at least most of the revenue ought go into permanent funds.
HINCKLEY: That’s what I was alluding to...principally, the permanent mineral trust funds.
HANSEN: Yes, I’m fully in support of that concept.
HINCKLEY: Well, that brings up the big question…the overriding one is water. One approach to it – it might be the preferred use status of industry under Wyoming’s water code is very ominous to some given that it does pose a threat to our livestock industry. Would you care to comment on the implications of industrial preferred use particularly and then of course the more current anxieties over…
HANSEN: I think that the basic premise from which most of the early Wyoming water law was written is basically sound and that is consumptive use. I think that we do have to watch to be certain that we don’t give too much leverage to industry and permit it to take over so much water that other interests in the state – the long range significance could be unduly hurt. I guess what’s happened in a number of states and probably to some extent in Wyoming as well is that industry will buy a ranch or a farm with a water right and will acquire the right to use the water and for all intents and purposes and so far as I know no longer make any beneficial to the land -- so that’s a problem. I recognize the importance of industry and right now we have to recognize the contribution that the state is making to our total energy supply. But, it’s also true, as we all know that if we all know that if we were to develop all of our oil shale resources, our coal resources at a much faster pace than they already are, we could very conceivably use all of the water in the state for industry which I think would have to be a bad mistake so I don’t want to go overboard in giving industry the right to…..
HINCKLEY: Governor Hathaway pointed out, something I hadn’t realized, that under Wyoming water law, agriculture isn’t listed as preferred use, whereas industry is. This took place during Governor Simpson’s administration when that code was drawn giving that preferred use status to industry. It had to do with Hanes Fork as he remembered…
HANSEN:Down in Lincoln County. HINCKLEY: They needed water for this particular project and of course we were in a depression then and that was the result – another hasty decision. One of my colleagues said when he found out that I was going to talk to Governor Herschler, he said, “You tell ol’ Ed, the way things are going industry will have all that water and that damn ranch will just be a summer pasture!”
HANSEN: That’s an interesting observation.
HINCKLEY: That was the way I presented it to Governor Herschler and he indicated a similar anxiety over that possibility. But at time Governor Hansen, he was anticipating the announcement of the national water board which appeared about three days after my interview which confirmed exactly what he was afraid of so he must have had some slight glimmer as to what the announcement was and he was very disturbed at the implications of the proposals that appeared in the national register. How does this national effort appear to you? Is it ominous or are we unduly alarmed over this?
HANSEN: I don’t think we’re unduly alarmed at all. I have publicly commended Governor Herschler for his expressions of forthright anxiety and concern. I just think he’s been right on target. I don’t know of anything that has been proposed that could portend greater damage or injury to the west than has been the annunciation of this policy and the federal register. We have succeeded as you know in getting a 90-day extension on it in order that people may comment but my gosh, it would completely vitiate the tradition and policy of beneficial use as we’ve known it in this state. As I understand the proposal to permit the federal government to acquire either by purchase or through condemnation water places all together too much authority in the federal government. I think one of the best decisions we make are those that are made by legislative bodies or executives close to the problem. To presume that the federal government has enough omniscience to decide where and how we’re going to use our water is too much for my imagination.
HINCKLEY: I would like to get two questions in. One is “what do you see as the greatest problem confronting Wyoming in the next decade?”
HANSEN: I guess it’s going to be the problem of striking a balance between the concerns of environmentalists on the one side and investments on the other to do what will be best both for the nation and the state in the long run.
HINCKLEY: Do you have any advice for young people?
HANSEN: Well, I would just say this. I think that the real threat to our government comes from a mistaken belief that the federal government can do all things for all people. I think that if young people will and I’m convinced that they are right now trying to do more things for themselves. That if they will keep on with the idea of calling upon the federal government only when their resources are at an end, I should say that the republic is going to be in good strong hands. I think that the danger is that we may be inclined to believe as many British that the federal government can guarantee prosperity and in the long run it can’t guarantee anyone anything.
HINCKLEY: Thank you Governor for interrupting your working vacation.