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Solar Economics Looking Sunnier, Even In Coal Country

With its big blue skies and high altitude, Wyoming's solar potential is among the best in the nation, but even as residential rooftop solar has boomed recently in places like California, Colorado and New Jersey, it's barely made any inroads in the state. Economics and politics both play a role, but with the price of photovoltaics continuing to drop, some people are starting to ask whether momentum is building for solar in nation's largest coal-producing state. “We have an amazing solar...
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Topic Of The Week

What role should the state play in keeping schools & teachers accountable for educating students?

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On Monday, Governor Matt Mead signed a bill that reopens the debate over teaching climate change science in schools.  The Next Generation Science Standards, known as NGSS, include the concept that climate change is real and largely caused by man.  In Wyoming, and a handful of other states, that’s controversial. So last year, the state legislature banned discussion to adopt them.  

Pete Gosar, Chairman of the Wyoming Board of Education, says the board now plans to begin debating the standards at their March meeting.  

The Wyoming Senate continues working on a bill that would let school boards, college trustees, and local governments decide whether guns will be allows in their facilities. 

The Senate rejected several amendments, including one by Gillette Republican Jeff Wasserburger to add number of safety measures to the bill. Those measures included 20 hours of safety training for school employees and giving local entities the ability to revoke concealed carry permits.

Wasserburger is a school principal with mixed emotions about the bill.

 

An amendment that would have added gay and transgender people to a bill intended to protect Wyoming residents from housing discrimination—failed Tuesday.

Openly gay Laramie Democrat Cathy Connolly tried to add the two groups of people to the list of protected classes. Connolly, who is also a University of Wyoming Professor, says it’s a serious concern.

“I can tell you that at least once a year, a student comes to talk to me about the fear of losing his or her apartment or trailer, simply because they are gay.”

Credit Raif via Flickr

A bill that would provide funding to help hospitals pay for charity care has been reduced. The bill started at ten million dollars in the Senate, but the House on Tuesday voted to cut funding down to one million dollars.

The money will now be targeted for small hospitals with under 25 beds. Several Representatives say all hospitals need help, but Cheyenne Republican Bob Nicholas countered that, without a study, it’s impossible to say what amount of help larger hospitals really need.

An attempt to Wyoming to the list of states pushing for a balanced budget constitutional amendment has failed. 

The Senate handily rejected the measure due to fears that Wyoming with only three congressional members, would not have equal footing with other states.

Senator Phil Nicholas also had grave concerns that a balanced budget amendment could entice Congress to balance the federal budget by stealing Wyoming’s mineral wealth. 

Baggs Republican Larry Hicks says that was no reason to vote the measure down.

Billings Gazette

Tuesday, the Wyoming house passed two bills that would lay out a strategy for keeping domestic sheep and bighorn sheep separated. Domestic sheep carry a bacteria that can spread pneumonia to bighorns, wiping out whole herds. But Wild Sheep Foundation Director Kevin Hurley has problems with the bills, especially Senate File 133, which sets aside funds to remove a herd of transplanted bighorns from the Wyoming Range    

Since first becoming prime minister in 1996, Benjamin Netanyahu has hammered away at Iran's nuclear program, calling it the greatest threat to Israel. Yet Tuesday's speech to Congress, like many before it, sharply criticized the international response to Iran while offering relatively little as an alternative.

The State of Wyoming is moving forward with plans to take over regulation of the uranium industry from the federal government. Governor Matt Mead signed legislation on Friday that starts the process of transferring oversight from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to Wyoming’s Department of Environmental Quality. The transfer is expected to cost the state $4.2 million, which industry will pay back over the course of roughly 12 years by taking on the expense of several positions currently paid for out of the general fund.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

The Wyoming Senate has voted to change a bill that was intended to allow guns in schools, colleges, athletic events, and government meetings.

The Senate adopted a revised bill that would leave the question of allowing firearms up to local governmental entities such as school boards.  Senator Hank Coe said that such decisions are best left to local governing bodies. 

Senator Curt Meier disagreed with the change.

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