Cheyenne, Wy – The Wyoming house and senate both approved bills that will allow doctors to apply for loans for special medical malpractice insurance. Called tail and nose coverage, it covers the high costs doctors pay when they leave an insurance carrier and join a new one. Amendments also allow loans to be used to help doctors pay for joining a risk retention group. Senator Irene Devin says otherwise doctors may have to spend loan money on some insurance companies that are financially risky, as they attempt to get the cheapest rates.
Washington, D.C. – One of Wyoming's two U-S Senators is co sponsoring a bill to put the bison on the nickel for the first time since early last century. Mike Enzi is sponsoring the legislation with Ben Nighthorse Campbell who is from Colorado. To help their cause they brought a live buffalo to the capitol. If Congress approves the proposal the treasury would mint the nickels for six months for sometime in 2005 or 2006. Enzi says he's doing this to raise awareness about the buffalo's role in American culture.
Laramie, Wy – The Wyoming Toad, which is an endangered species, recently got a helping hand from biologists in Tennessee. Staff at the Memphis Zoo artificially inseminated Wyoming Toad eggs. This is the first time this has ever been done with an endangered toad and Doctor Andy Kouba says it will go a long ways towards getting the animal off the endangered species list. All together this project produced 17 hundred tadpoles. Kouba says they've been released into the wild in Southeastern Wyoming. He says they will try this again next year and hope to get even more tadpoles.
Cheyenne – After three days of contentious debate the state legislature passed a constitutional amendment that for the first time in history will allow voters to decide if they want to allow caps on non economic damages in medical malpractice cases. Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck reports
Laramie, Wy – Authorities safely detonated a suspected pipe bomb found in Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis. Thermopolis Police Chief Jim Weisbeck says tourists spotted the suspicious looking device near a boat ramp in the park Tuesday. Weisbeck says the device had three pieces of copper tubing that were capped and held together with duct tape. A nearby public swimming pool was evacuated. A bomb disposal unit from Natrona County blew up the device, and its remains will be studied by the state crime lab.
Cheyenne, Wy – The Wyoming House and Senate gave initial approval to legislation that would provide Obstetricians help with Medicaid reimbursements. The Senate version of the bill would provide 100 percent reimbursement of their regular charges for delivering what are termed "Medicaid babies." Senators were told there is a difference of about a thousand dollars between what Medicaid currently pays and what doctors would normally get from their insured patients. Senator Rae Lynn Job says they are hoping to close the gap, but she says it's unclear how many doctors will be affected.
Cheyenne, Wy – The Wyoming House has approved its version of a constitutional amendment that would place a cap on non-economic damages. Following extensive debate and opposition from the Speaker and several leading Republicans the house removed a provision that would have kept a cap from being less than 500-thousand dollars. Representative Colin Simpson says citizens benefit from having a floor in the bill.
Cheyenne, Wy – Following a debate that lasted over two hours the Wyoming house gave initial approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that sets a cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. The debate focused on two main issues. House members defeated an attempt to remove a cap if Gross Negligence is proven. But they did pass an amendment that says no cap can be less then 500-thousand dollars. Putting a number in the bill concerned many, who thought the issue should not be placed in the constitution.
Laramie, Wy – Five homicides have been recorded so far this year in Fremont County. That's a lot for a Wyoming county with 36-thousand people. County Coroner Ed McAuslan says this is the worst year for homicides in his 29 years on the job - and there is no explanation or quick solution for the spike. The most recent homicide was that of 22-month-old Marcella Hope Yellowbear, of Riverton. The girl's mother, Macalia Blackburn, was arrested last week. On June 26th, 18-year-old William Jevon Antelope, of Riverton,
Laramie, Wy – The Bush Administration has proposed replacing the Roadless Rule. That was a policy President Clinton put in place barring development in parts of National Forests. In Wyoming there are about three million acres of land that was classified as roadless. This is about five percent of the state. Those forests are now open to development unless the governor appeals to protect them.
Laramie, Wy – As the summer goes on the chance of contracting West Nile Virus increases. That's the word from the Wyoming coordinator for the virus, Terry Creekmore. He says the peak of the year should be the first two weeks of August. He reminds people to take precautions to prevent mosquito bites especially in the state's hot spots, which are Goshen and Fremont Counties. So far this year one person and 15 horses have tested positive for West Nile. Creekmore says using repellent with DEET is safe to use.
Laramie, Wy – The Bush administration announced a new plan today to open up national forests to more logging. Secretary of Agriculture Ann Veneman made the announcement at the state Capitol with Governor Dirk Kempthorne and Idaho Senator Larry Craig. Under the plan, governors would have to petition the federal government to block road-building needed for logging in remote areas of national forests. It covers about 58 million of the 191 million acres of national forest nationwide. The rule replaces a previous one adopted by the Clinton Administration.
Cheyenne, Wy – Conservationist and philanthropist Laurance Rockefeller, who helped national parks in Wyoming, has died. He was 94. Rockefeller was number 377 on this year's Forbes magazine list of 587 billionaires, with 1-point-5 billion dollars. But he was perhaps best known for his work in the field of conservation and his affinity for the environment. In 1958 he founded the American Conservation Association to advance public knowledge of the field.
Cheyenne, Wy – July in Wyoming isn't just for baseball, hot dogs and rodeos. This year, it's also time for lawmaking. The Legislature this Monday opened a one-week special session to address the state's worsening shortage of doctors and their increasing malpractice insurance rates. Those rates are prompting many of them to leave the state, retire, or cut back their services. The Senate got the jump on the House when Senate President April Brimmer Kunz of Cheyenne gaveled in at 9:30.
Cheyenne, Wy – Wyoming lawmakers were told to let citizens have their say on whether to cap damages in medical malpractice cases and not to let lobbyists bother them. Governor Dave Freudenthal asked that two constitutional amendments go to voters, so they can have the say on the future of health care in the state. Freudenthal made his comments at the start of the special legislative session on health care reform. The Governor says lobbyists have been very aggressive on this issue, but he urged legislators to press forward and do something to help out the citizens.
Cheyenne, Wy – The Wyoming Senate approved a pair of constitutional amendments on initial reading in the first day of the special legislative session on health care reform. Senators approved a constitutional amendment that would cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. The amendment passed, despite arguments by Democrats Mike Massie and Jayne Mockler that the cap will not impact rising malpractice rates. Senators rejected an attempt to allow victims to collect more then the amount capped if there was serious negligence.
Laramie, Wy – A week long attempt at attempting to solve Wyoming's high cost of medical malpractice insurance begins today. The headliner is a cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. Legislators are being asked to give two-thirds support to the concept and put in on the ballot for citizens to decide the matter in November. But a bill that proposes other long range options, such as a risk retention group, will also be considered. Buffalo Representative Doug Osborn is hoping that legislation setting a cap on non-economic damages will pass.
Laramie, Wy – A consulting firm is coming to Wyoming to do a unique analysis of the delivery of healthcare in rural and frontier parts of the state. The company will take an inventory of resources and project needs in five, ten and twenty years. The director of the Wyoming Healthcare Commission, Diane Harrop, says she hopes it can be a tool for lawmakers at all levels of government. The study will cost 150 thousand dollars and should be done by October. Harrop says it may include some recommendations.
Laramie, WY – A Republican candidate for Congress wants to dismantle the U-S-A Patriot Act. Cale Case says Wyoming's current Congressperson did not vote on the final version of the bill, but he says he would have taken a stand. Case calls the Patriot Act a piece of reactionary legislation and he believes it's inappropriate. He says if there were good ideas in the Patriot Act, they could have been pulled out and handled separately.
Laramie, Wy – Union Pacific Railroad says it is further limiting service amid record shipping demand and crew shortages. In a letter to customers posted on its Web site, U-P Executive Vice President of Marketing Jack Koraleski says new actions will include creating an allocation system to schedule intermodal and other shipments. It also will temporarily limit rock and aggregate materials shipments from Texas through the 23-state U-P system. The nation's largest railroad had been troubled with slow trains
Rock Springs, WY – The Wyoming Game and Fish Department's Sagegrouse Coordinator is asking Wyoming residents to report any dead sagegrouse they see this summer immediately. Tom Christiansen says biolgists are particularly concerned about how deadly West Nile Virus can be for sagegrouse. He says last year, 20 to 25 of the birds were killed due to the virus. Christiansen says those deaths were the only ones confirmed by testing so the number may be higher. He says most of the dead sagegrouse were found in northeastern Wyoming's Powder River Basin.
Laramie, WY – Congressional candidate Bruce Asay continues to push his plan for total reform of the health care system. He says a broad approach is the only proper way to reduce health care costs and reduce premiums for medical malpractice insurance. The Republican says his plan involves everyone. Asay says doctors, lawyers, pharmaceutical companies and individuals all have to give something in order to fix what many are calling a health care crisis.
Sheridan, WY – Questions still remain whether Campbell county has an obligation to maintain Lake DeSmet, despite pulling out of a joint operating agreement with Sheridan and Johnson counties. Sheridan County Commissioner Larry Durante says two issues remain regarding Campbell county's responsibility: the cost of daily upkeep of the lake and expenses for a major problem like a dam break. Durante says Campbell county still has an obligation to pay its share of outstanding debt and for any possible future damages.