Cheyenne, WY – Almost all of the top state officials took time to honor former governor Stan Hathaway Friday. They unveiled a plaque that will hang in the capitol and spoke about the impact Hathaway's had on the state. He was governor from 1967 to 1975. Among his accomplishments are the creation of the Permanent Mineral Trust Fund and Departments of Health, Environmental Quality, Recreation and Parks. Hathaway who is 79 attended the ceremony with his wife, children and grandchildren. After serving as Governor he also went on to be Secretary of US Department of Interior.
Cheyenne, WY – The state's wolf management law and the plan the Game and Fish Commission passed do not exactly match up and now they won't, at least for another year. The legislature was considering a bill to synch up the law and plan, but the chair of the Senate committee that needs to approve the proposal says it won't come up for a vote. Senator Delaine Roberts says House Bill 111 just is not needed, whether there's litigation or not.
Cheyenne, WY – A bill to help with brucellosis testing costs cleared the Wyoming Senate Appropriations Committee Thursday. Committee members changed direct compensation from five dollars a head to three dollars. They also removed 50 thousand dollars that would have paid for feed for those cattle that get quarantined. Senator John Hines says lawmakers were concerned about directly funding a business and whether that might set a precendent. He says coal-bed methane producers might seek state funding if their businesses are damaged by delays in permitting.
Cheyenne, WY – A bill that lifts sales taxes on new manufacturing equipment survived some final debate and passed in the Wyoming Senate Friday. House Bill 44 is being called a major tool for economic development and state officials say the lack of such an exemption has cost Wyoming business. But Senator Jayne Mockler of Cheyenne says the exemption will take too much revenue from the state. She says the litany of exemptions this creates weren't talked about. Senator Bob Peck countered that the sales tax may apply to existing businesses, but only to new equipment.
Cheyenne – A joint conference committee will meet and discuss the state budget Friday. While there are no hot button issues, there are plenty of differences between the State House and Senate. Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck reports that the focus will be on Medicaid and how much to put into savings.
Cheyenne, WY – The Wyoming Senate Revenue Committee recommended passing a bill that would give more money to local government. House Bill 201 would raise the funding distribution formula for cities, towns and counties and fund them for four years. The bill includes 70 million dollars in funding, but the Senate has included 35 million in the budget. Interest in helping local government has increased this legislation session and Wyoming Association of Municipalities Director George Parks believes local officials have made the case for increased funding.
Cheyenne – Wyoming is staying on the list of those states that do not want to cap damages on medical malpractice cases. The House and Senate Wednesday failed to give the needed 2/3 support to bills that would have asked the voters to support a constitutional change, which would have allowed legislators to cap non-economic damages in such cases. Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck reports the concept was supported by medical providers who are concerned about the rising cost of medical malpractice insurance.
Rawlins, WY – Wyoming Game and Fish officials say the number of elk found dead or dying from mysterious causes near Rawlins is now over 250. Officials say they are still baffled over the cause of the deaths, which have not affected other animals such as deer and antelope. Game and Fish Wildlife Veterinarian Dr. Walt Cook says disease mostly has been ruled out so they are starting to look at toxins. The elk have similar symptons, including the inability to move. Officials have taken samples from plants, soil and water, as well as examining carcasses, but so far nothing has turned up.
Cheyenne, WY – A plan to create a tax exemption for manufacturing equipment is still moving forward in the legislature. After passing the Wyoming House, the bill received first round approval in the Senate Wednesday. Senator Bob Peck says it's a tool for economic development. Peck says it's a far-sighted way to encourage present businesses to stay and expand and attract new manufacturing companies. But Senator Cale Case says it's an expensive tool to try to get companies to come to Wyoming. He prefers the state reduce the sales tax from four to three percent.
Laramie, Wy – A total of 275 elk are dead or dying in the Rawlins area and so far the Game and Fish Department does not what is killing them. Wildlife veterinarian Walt Cook says they have ruled out many things including Chronic Wasting Disease, but there are hundreds of other possible causes, he says that does include poisoning, which they are not ruling out but is not very likely because of the number of effected animals and because they have not found a source of poison.
Eugene, OR – Last summer, the US Forest Service fought wildfires on almost 1.5 Million acres and allowed about 300,000 acres to burn naturally. That breakdown needs to change, according to the group Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics, which thinks too many fires are fought. Executive Director Andy Stahl admits the Forest Service is making modest strides to allow more fires to burn, but believes too many firefighters are put at risk for blazes that don't threaten homes. Stahl thinks there should be a policy to guide the agency on when to fight a fire.
Cheyenne, WY – During the State of the State address, the Governor urged legislators to buy a parcel of land in northeastern Wyoming called the Moskee Tract. Residents of the area and sportsmen say it's an invaluable piece of property. But it would have cost the state 30 million dollars and the Senate voted down plans to buy the land. Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife Director Bob Wharff says the Senators made a mistake. Wharff says Wyoming has spent millions of dollars of a budget surplus and will have nothing to show for it in ten years.
Topic: Bob Beck reports issues for the legislature
Topic: A total of 275 elk are dead or dying in the Rawlins area; Guest: Walt Cox, Wildlife Veterinarian
Topic: A Wyoming Brucellosis coordination team has been named to respond to the brucellosis situation in the state; Guest: Frank Galey, Dean of the University of Wyoming College of Agriculture and Chairman of the Task Force
Cheyenne – For the first time in over a decade the Wyoming House has approved a bill to create a lottery. If this goes through the Cowboy State could join several other states in a Powerball lottery. Wyoming Public Radio's Renny MacKay reports this is not something that has widespread support.
Cheyenne, WY – Wyoming would not be able to proceed with a lawsuit against the federal government over wolf management is a proposal in the state House remains. Tuesday, Representative Colin Simpson sponsored an amendment that changes the state's management plan significantly and the House approved it. Simpson admits if his proposal remains, Wyoming will have to restart the process of getting federal approval of its' wolf management plan before it could sue.
Cheyenne, WY – The Wyoming Education Association has joined the National Education Association in calling for the removal of U-S Education Secretary Rod Paige. The move comes following Paige called the national union a "terrorist organization" during a private meeting with Governors Monday. W-E-A President Gary McDowell called the remarks "hostile" and "repulsive." National union officials maintain they were targeted because of the criticism of certain provisions in the "No Child Left Behind" law. McDowell says the law does not fit Wyoming or the nation.
Cheyenne, WY – A proposed state constitutional amendment to limit damage awards onmedical malpractice cases was shot down by the State House and Senate. A Senate tort-reform amendment needed a two-thirds vote Wednesday, but fell two votes short, 18-12. A similar amendment in the House came up five votes shy, with 35 in favor and 22 against. That means neither resolution will go to the public for a vote. Both proposals would have allowed the Legislature to limit awards for non-economic damages. The issue was targeted by medical providers as their top issue this session.
Cheyenne, WY – The Wyoming Senate rejected to amendments in giving second reading approval to a bill that would set the stage for the state to cap non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. Senator Jayne Mockler sponsored an amendment that attempted to require "truth in advertising" if the issue goes before voters. Senator Charlie Scott vehemently objected to the amendment, saying it chills free speech. Longtime newspaper publisher, Senator Bob Peck, says Mockler should trust the public.
Cheyenne, WY – The Wyoming Senate Wednesday debated how involved the state should be in the lives of families. The discussion was around a study the Department of Family Services has proposed. The president of the senate, April Brimmer Kunz condemned it saying the intent may be good but the government should not tell people how to run their families. A supporter of the proposed study, Senator Charlie Scott says it will not tell people how to do that, rather it will look at the way the public and private sector provide services to families and children.
Cheyenne, WY – Wyoming may lose 70 million dollars in federal funding if it doesn't comply with President Bush's centerpiece education law. The No Child Left Behind Act spells out tougher standards for student testing and teacher credentials. It also penalizes schools that don't meet the standards. Federal officials are meeting with state lawmakers Tuesday to discuss the law. That's after several challenges to it were introduced in this year's budget session.
Cheyenne, WY – The luck of Wyoming may have just changed. The state House passed a bill to join a multi state Powerball lottery Tuesday. Supporters of the proposal say it could bring millions of dollars of revenue to Wyoming. But, Representative Pete Anderson says it sets a bad precedent. Anderson told other representatives that the constitution says legislators must protect the health and morality of the people of the state. Anderson is specifically worried that this would be state sponsored and advertised gambling.
Casper, WY – The Vice President of the National Education Association is impressed with how Natrona county's school district is using a process to meet federal No Child Left Behind requirements. Dennis Van Roekel says the Casper district is one of the few in the nation to use the Interest Based Agreement Process. Van Roekel says that process allows the district to have more flexibility to meet the federal mandates. He says allowing other school districts to use similar approaches may alleviate some of the concerns educators have with No Child Left Behind.
Cheyenne, WY – The State Supreme Court disbarred the former Casper District Attorney Tuesday. The disbarment stems from Kevin Meenan's guilty plea in December to two felonies and a misdemeanor in a fraud and forgery case involving his stepchildren. Meenan hoped to only receive a three-year suspension of his legal license. But Wyoming State Bar Chief Council Becky Lewis says the five-year disbarment was appropriate because it shows the Supreme Court and State Bar can police themselves. Lewis says a five-year disbarment is as stiff a penalty as Wyoming rules allow for.
Cheyenne – The Wyoming House and Senate have wrapped up their budget work. Now the budgets switch houses before the bills head into a conference committee to iron out differences. Final discussion of the budget featured cuts of last week's increases and some last day fine tuning. Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck reports that both sides seem satisfied with their work.
Cheyenne, WY – The airport manager in Casper is upset by last week's decision not to spend any of the state's three million dollar air service enhancement fund. One proposal that was passed on by the Wyoming Business Council's Board of Directors was one that would start jet service on Northwest Airlines between Casper and Minneapolis. Natrona County International Airport Manager Dan Mann says the council walked away from its responsibilities.
Cheyenne – Today the Wyoming legislature will continue its debate on what to do about the high cost of medical malpractice insurance. A key solution favored by the Wyoming Health Care Commission, Doctors and many interest groups in the stat, would be to cap damages in medical malpractice cases. Insurance companies have told them that without caps, malpractice rates will rise and more doctors will be forced to leave the state. To do that requires the state to change the constitution and that would start with a vote of the people in November
Washington, DC – Dave Fruedenthal is attending the National Governors' Association meeting in Washington, DC and got a chance to sit down and talk with President Bush Monday morning. Freudenthal isn't sure much new ground was broken, but says it was a useful meeting. The Governor did not use the opportunity to question the President on Wyoming's big federal issue right now, the dispute over wolf management. He says the wolf issue probably isn't on President Bush's radar screen and he thinks a regional topic probably wasn't appropriate in that venue.