Helena, MT – Montana's proposed bison hunt may not happen. The state's wildlife commission yesterday agreed to consider canceling the controversial hunt, which was set to start next week. The 4-1 decision was made by a commission that included three members just appointed by new Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer. Schweitzer said earlier this week that he wanted the hunt cancelled. The wildlife commission also voted to postpone the drawing for licenses for the bison hunt which was scheduled for today. The commission plans to meet Monday, to make a final decision.
Laramie, WY – The lawsuit challenging Laramie's smoking ordinance will go before a state district court judge on Monday. The ban on smoking in public places, including restaurants and bars, was passed by Laramie voters in November by 366 votes. Six residents sued to overturn the ban, claiming that city officials bungled the election. The city has argued to dismiss the suit, saying that Albany County District Court does not have jurisdiction and that the plaintiffs failed to make their case. Monday's hearing before Judge Jeffrey Donnell is scheduled for 2:00 pm.
Laramie, Wy – This week the federal government announced a new rule for wolf management in Idaho and Montana. The change makes it easier for ranchers and state wildlife agencies to kill wolves. But, Wyoming is still under the more restrictive old rule because the federal government rejected Wyoming's wolf management plan. Since then the state filed suit to try and overturn that decision. Attorney General Pat Crank says the rule change for the neighboring states won't affect Wyoming's plan.
Laramie, Wy – A tax increase has reduced cigarette use and bolstered state revenue. That's according to the Survey and Analysis Center at the University of Wyoming. The excise tax on cigarettes was increased in 2003 from 12 cents per pack to 60 cents per pack. The center says that increased state revenue from around 500-thousand dollars per month to one-and-a-half million dollars per month. Meanwhile, the number of packs sold fell by more than 17 percent.
Washington, DC – The U-S Senate is moving quickly to confirm a new secretary for the Department of Agriculture. Governor Mike Johanns from Nebraska received the unanimous support of the Agriculture Committee today. During the fairly relaxed hearing Wyoming's senior Senator, Craig Thomas, asked Johanns about country of origin food labels, drought relief and the upcoming farm bill. Afterwards Thomas says he was impressed with the way Johanns answered those questions. Johanns also vowed to keep working to begin exporting beef to Japan.
Cheyenne, WY – The Administrator of the Wyoming Highway Patrol took over as the Department of Transportation director Thursday. But this comes amidst questions about Colonel John Cox's education. In 1990, Cox received a criminal justice administration degree from The International University, a distance-learning school based in Missouri. A 12-year consultant for the F-B-I's anti-diploma mill program says a degree from that school has no value in the academic world.
Riverton, WY – Riverton and Rawlins are combining their efforts over the medium security prison issue. Both towns are disputing the Department of Corrections recommendation to build the prison in Torrington. City government officials from both Rawlins and Riverton held a press conference Wednesday to make their point that choosing Torrington would not be in the best interests of Wyoming.