Laramie, Wy – Most ratings put Wyoming's open records and meetings laws among the worst in the country. But the Director of the Wyoming Press Association believes that will change thanks to legislative action. Jim Angel says Wyoming legislators significantly improved Wyoming's open meetings law by putting in place penalties for violating the act. Angel thinks that is the kind of deterrent that will keep meetings open. He says this law, coupled with the passage of a recent open records law, is making government in the state much more open.
Cheyenne, Wy – The Governors Food Safety council is recommending a ban on facial jewelry for restaurant workers who prepare food. But some restaurant owners say it is a solution without a problem. The council voted 5-3 earlier this year to recommend the ban after hearing testimony that people were finding "tongue rings in their food". But Greg Smith of Altitude Chophouse and Brewery in Laramie finds that baffling, saying that he doubts anything like that would cause a health hazard. He also does not know how such things would get into food.
Washington, DC – The Director of the Bureau of Land Management says they are making positive strides in processing oil and gas drilling permits. Energy producers have been unhappy with the pace of BLM permitting. But BLM Director Kathleen Clarke told a congressional committee last week that they've improved their output by about 67% over the last several years. Clarke says it's a challenge because of the sheer volume of applications they are seeing. She thinks delays in drilling are also the result of the number of leases that are protested.
Cheyenne, WY – According to new census estimates, Wyoming's population has grown by more than 12,000 people since 2000. The Census Bureau says the state's population in 2004 was 506,529. However, the number of children from 5-17 year-old fell by more than 10,000 over the same period. As of the last official Census in 2000, the 5-17 age group made up nearly 26% of Wyoming's population. It now accounts for about 17%.
Casper, WY – A state wildlife unit has been renamed asA state wildlife unit has been renamed as a memorial for two renowned researchers who died in a car-crash late last year. Tom Thorne and Beth Williams spent many years researching wildlife diseases at the Game and Fish Department's Sybille Wildlife Research and Conservation Unit near Wheatland. Game and Fish personnel decided the best way to honor them was to rename the facility the Tom Thorne-Beth Williams Wildlife Research Center.
Washington, DC – Legislation proposed by Wyoming Senator Craig Thomas would restrict the amount of private land the federal government can acquire in states where it already owns large chunks of acreage. Thomas says his "No-Net-Loss of Private Lands" proposal would protect the rights of private property owners and instill some common sense into federal land acquisitions. Under his proposal, limits would be in effect in states where 25 percent or more of the land is federally owned.
Laramie, Wy – Wyoming licensed a Laramie-based online school last year even as its owner helped direct a Hawaii online school that was offering illegal medical degrees. State education officials concede they overlooked the fact that the owner of American Central University was the Malaysian regional director for American University of Hawaii. The state of Hawaii succeeded in getting a court order to shut down the Hawaii operation after a judge determined it had offered illegal medical degrees.
Laramie, Wy – Northwest Airlines flights between Casper and Minneapolis-St. Paul have not met the company's expectations in recent months. Northwest spokesman Thomas Becher said the Casper business performed up to expectations for the first three months but has since slipped. With the coming of the summer travel season, he said the company hopes for improvement. Natrona County International Airport Manager Dan Mann says Northwest officials were told to expect a winter slowdown.
Cheyenne, Wy – One coal to liquids facility says it is coming to the state, while another is considering such a move. This has the Governor and other state officials taking a serious look at expanding the possibility of more coal gasification and liquid coal facilities in Wyoming. On Tuesday, Wyoming officials will discuss further opportunities during a meeting in Cheyenne. The Governors Energy Advisor Steve Ellenbecker says they have been discussing options for the last six months.