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The Wyoming House voted for a final time to establish the ENDOW initiative, or the Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming. The initiative was introduced by Governor Matt Mead last November to diversify the state’s economy and now his office is seeking public input. 

When Congress recessed earlier this month, Senators Enzi and Barrasso and Representative Cheney all held office hours and visited communities around Wyoming – but did not hold larger public events in the state.

The annual Leap Into Leadership Conference begins Monday in Cheyenne. It’s hosted by the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus as a way to encourage women, and give them the tools to run for public office. This year the focus is on civil discourse and debate, with one of the panels titled “How Do We Disagree Without Being Disagreeable?”

University of Wyoming

  

A bill to allow individuals with concealed carry permits to carry guns on the University of Wyoming’s campus and community colleges was defeated this week by the State Senate. Those in support of the legislation say it would have made campuses safer, while those opposed to it worried about potential dangers.

UNC Law School

The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy is the nation’s leading progressive legal organization. One of their scholars, University of North Carolina Law Professor Bill Marshall was in Laramie this week speaking at the University of Wyoming law school.  

We asked him to stop by and discuss Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch. Marshall told Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck that he has concerns about Gorsuch and his take on the Constitution. Professor Marshall begins by explaining how he sees things. 

Bob Beck

The Republican Party hates so-called Obamacare, but when it comes to replacing the bill the party is divided over how to change the health care system.

You’ve heard about the angry protests at Republican town halls across the nation, but you may not know there’s also a heated debate happening inside closed door Republican meetings on Capitol Hill. The thirty or so member House Freedom Caucus voted as a block to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act before the party even has a replacement in hand.

Wikimedia Commons

In today’s political climate it can be difficult to even talk to a neighbor or a friend about contentious issues, not to mention trying to work across the aisle within Congress. Former Maine Republican Senator Olympia Snowe has built a career on bipartisanship and now serves on the board of directors for the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Citizens Climate Lobby

A group of conservative thinkers who are concerned about climate change are proposing an approach that they hope will encourage companies to look to reduce carbon pollution. The proposal would also attempt to encourage average people to use cleaner energy. It’s a market based solution called a climate fee and dividend.

It charges a fee on industry for the amount of carbon burned and gives a dividend to consumers to help them pay for rising energy costs associated with the plan, which means the fee would eventually get returned to the companies.

A Youth Radio Investigation Of Wyoming's Role In Climate Change

Feb 24, 2017
Melodie Edwards

Now that Wyoming’s Science Standards are encouraging kids to make up their own minds about climate change, a group of Laramie middle schoolers tackled the issue of the environmental impacts of energy development in Wyoming. We handed off the microphone to young reporters Zeren Homer and Sam Alexander.

 

Hagerty Ryan, USFWS

In 2014, Wyoming's science standards hadn't been updated in ten years and it was time to adopt new ones. Like most other states at the time, Wyoming was poised to pass the Next Generation Science Standards. Laramie Senator Chris Rothfuss was a big fan of Next Generation, but he remembered a lot of grumbling from his fellow lawmakers.

“There’s generally been a concern with national standards that the feds are trying to tell us what to learn,” Rothfuss said. “And so there was a general backlash I think towards that.”

Alanna Elder

Wyoming’s sheep industry relies on foreign labor from the Department of Labor’s H2-A visa program, which applies to agricultural jobs. When that agency raised wage requirements for sheepherders in 2015, ranchers complained that the rule change could put them out of business. But worker’s advocates argued that the new regulations were not enough. Wyoming Public Radio’s Alanna Elder met with a rancher and a shepherd  just after the latest round of raises went into effect.

 

Tennessee Watson

A winter storm this week brought even more snow to the Tetons and the Jackson Hole Mountain Resort closed Tuesday because of high winds and avalanche danger. But, those spiny peaks aren’t the only place in Wyoming where snow must be approached with caution. Fresh powder beckons snow enthusiasts to get out and play. Every year, Wyoming sees multiple fatalities from avalanches. All you need is the wrong combination of terrain, snow and weather, and there could be a problem.

Wyoming Department of Education

February 23rd is Digital Learning Day. It’s appropriate then that on Thursday, the House took up Senate File 35 on virtual education. The bill, which updates guidelines for student enrollment in online classes, passed Committee of the Whole in the House, but not without being amended. An appropriation for $250,000 to establish a centralized statewide management system was removed.

State of Wyoming Legislature

On Thursday, the Wyoming House of Representatives Committee passed the first reading of a bill that would establish a council charged with studying and implementing a plan to diversify Wyoming’s economy. The bill would create the ENDOW Council (or Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming Council).

Lander Representative Jim Allen proposed an amendment adding a tribal member to the council, which he said fits with the stated mission of the council.

The Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes said they plan to work together to appeal a Tenth Circuit Court ruling made Wednesday declaring that the city of Riverton is not located within reservation boundaries.

A 1905 Act passed by Congress opened up 1.4 million acres of Wind River Reservation land for settlement to non-Indians. Then in 2013, the EPA ruled in an air quality study that the city of Riverton was part of that acreage and rightfully belonged within reservation boundaries.

University of Wyoming

The Wyoming Senate has defeated a bill that would have allowed those with concealed carry permits to carry guns on the University of Wyoming Campus and at Community Colleges. 

The Senate defeated the measure 17 to 13 after sponsor Anthony Bouchard of Cheyenne urged lawmakers to restore gun rights. University officials and some of the colleges begged to leave this issue up to campus trustees, but Bouchard says local control isn’t working. 

"The campuses have had the right or the ability to allow carry, but they even admitted in committee that they don’t want to do it.”

Wyoming LSO

The Wyoming Senate has given initial approval to a pair of gun bills and defeated another. 

The Senate voted down allowing concealed guns on the University of Wyoming and community college campuses, but supported allowing guns at government meetings and voted to allow K-12 school boards to decide if some personnel should be allowed to have concealed weapons in schools. 

Wikipedia

The Wyoming House Of Representatives gave initial support to a bill Wednesday that limits when the public can view footage recorded by police body cameras. The House also amended Senate File 32, to remove dashboard cameras from the bill. A person or the media could view the recordings if they were able to convince a judge there was compelling public interest in releasing the video. 

Supporters of the bill say its intent is to provide clarity to law enforcement and the general public and give parameters and guidance on the handling of policy body footage. 

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A bill to study wage and benefit disparities between men and women in Wyoming unanimously passed the Senate’s Labor, Health, and Social Services Committee on Wednesday.

In April 2016, The National Women’s Law Center released a study that ranked Wyoming as having the third largest lifetime wage gap in the country. The study said because of that gap, an average Wyoming woman makes about $651,000 less than a man over the course of a 40 year career. 

The Senate’s Judiciary Committee passed a bill on Wednesday to create a tiered penalty system for products containing THC, or edibles. House Bill 137 originally dealt with the plant form of marijuana, but the committee amended the bill to define marijuana product as a substance meant to be consumed in ways other than smoking. 

 

Nancy Watkins

My husband and I are North Carolina residents, but have had a home in Jackson for many years. Until our recent retirement, we were not able to spend extended time in Wyoming.

This is our first winter stay and for the first time, we brought our “girls” with us. Even though we have had an excellent caretaker at home, there was no way we were going to leave Lily, 12-years-old and blind, and Roxie, 9-years-old, for the winter.        

thebeardedladyproject.com

A University of Wyoming scientist has created a documentary to celebrate women in paleontology.

Ellen Currano said she and a friend, filmmaker Lexi Jameison Marsh, conceived of the project after a hard day in their separate fields. Both women had felt like outsiders who were not taken as seriously as their male colleagues.

Zach Dischner

After a lengthy debate, the Wyoming Senate gave final approval to what’s known as the Ski Safety Act. The bill is intended to protect ski areas from litigation in case of injury or death.

Supporters say frivolous lawsuits drive up insurance costs for smaller ski areas. Cheyenne Senator Tara Nethercott added an amendment to make sure there was proper signage to protect skiers. She said those using the slopes are looking for a safe experience.

Wyoming Education Association

The Wyoming Senate Education Committee voted to remove a tax measure from a comprehensive education bill and added some more cuts.

The bill is the House solution to a projected $400 million shortfall in education funding. It originally imposed a half percent sales tax after the legislature’s reserve account dropped below $500 million.

The Modern West #20: U.S. Citizens Incarcerated In The West

Feb 20, 2017
Discover Nikkei

It’s the 75th anniversary of an executive order that incarcerated thousands of Japanese Americans in internment camps across the nation. This episode includes first-hand accounts from this era. 

Wikimedia Commons

The Associated Students of the University of Wyoming, or ASUW, will propose a resolution to the Student Senate to fly the rainbow LGBT pride flag on campus in June for Pride Month. 

Chris Ryan, director of governmental affairs at ASUW, said the authors of the resolution wanted to show support for the LGBT community in light of recent and historic events.

CocoaBiscuit via Flickr

Congress canceled a set of coal mining regulations last week, just two months after they’d been passed. President Trump signed the repeal with support from Wyoming Governor Matt Mead.  

The Stream Protection Rule created a buffer zone around waterways and placed stricter requirements on companies to monitor and reclaim mine sites. But Wyoming’s Congressional delegation and Department of Environmental Quality called the decision an overreach that should not apply to the arid conditions of the Western U.S.

FLICKR

Wyoming is among the states with the highest proportion of people living in mobile homes, but they don’t have the same rights as other homeowners.

House Bill 56, which is now before the Senate, will fix an oversight in how mobile homes are titled.

BLM Wyoming

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to overturn a Bureau of Land Management planning rule that's been in the works for years with cooperation from sportsmen and ranchers. The BLM says Planning 2.0 would give the public more opportunity for input and provide more protection to big game migration routes that were discovered since the old rule was adopted.

Proponents such as the Wyoming Wilderness Association say if the rule is scrapped using the Congressional Review Act, those benefits would be lost until the end of the Trump administration.

Wyoming State Historical Society

In 1969, fourteen African-American football players were dismissed from the University of Wyoming team because they wanted to wear black armbands as a sign of protest in their upcoming game against the Mormon owned and operated Brigham Young University.

At the time the Mormon Church barred black men from the priesthood. The incident divided the UW community and broke the Cowboys winning streak that year. Education reporter Tennessee Watson talks to River Gayton, a high school student circulating a petition to increase awareness of the Black 14, and their decision to take a stand.

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