Bob Beck

News Director

Phone: 307-766-6626
Email: btwo@uwyo.edu 

Bob Beck has been News Director of Wyoming Public Radio since 1988.  During his time as News Director WPR has won 94 national, regional and state news awards.  Bob has received the WEA School Bell Award for education reporting and was honored by the Governor’s Council on Impaired Driving for his reporting.  He was also the voice of an Emmy award winning documentary on memory.  He has covered the Wyoming Legislature longer than any broadcaster in the state and is a frequent political guest and host on Wyoming PBS.   

Bob also taught broadcast news at the University of Wyoming for 20 years and his 1998 television reporting class won a regional Emmy for reporting excellence.  He also was twice given a Top Prof award by the UW Mortar Board.   Bob is also active in community events and co-chaired the 2009 Albany County United Way Campaign with his wife Debra. 

Prior to coming to WPR, Bob worked as a News and Sportscaster at stations in Wyoming and Illinois.  He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Radio-Television from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and is a native of Wheaton, Illinois in suburban Chicago.  When he is not working he is running, mountain biking, doing CrossFit, walking his dog, or cheering on his beloved Packers, Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs and Salukis.

Ways to Connect

Bob Beck

A downturn in the energy economy has caused a crisis in Wyoming education funding. K-12 funding is projected to see a $400 million shortfall at the end of the current two-year budget cycle.

That deficit will grow if lawmakers can’t find a way to address the shortfall, but the House and Senate are taking different approaches towards solving the problem. During an interview Senate Education Chairman Hank Coe of Cody repeated a sentence that’s become a cliché this session.

Wyoming Legislature

The Wyoming House of Representatives gave initial approval to bills that touched on the topic of abortions. House Bill 182 requires physicians to tell a woman that they can see an ultra-sound and hear the unborn child’s heartbeat and provide other information.   

Laramie Representative Charles Pelkey said the bill goes too far.

People with concealed carry permits could soon be able have guns on college campuses, in certain schools, and in government meetings.  

The Wyoming House of Representatives overwhelming supported all three bills Wednesday. The only serious debate surrounded whether concealed carry should be allowed on the University of Wyoming campus. 

House Minority Leader Cathy Connolly is a UW professor. She says the bill takes away local control by forcing the University to accept guns. Connolly says a number of faculty are worried about the bill.

Bob Beck

An effort to add a three day waiting period to handgun purchases has been defeated by a Wyoming legislative committee. The House Judiciary Committee voted 8 to 1 against the bill from Laramie Representative Cathy Connolly.

The waiting period was requested by Laramie resident Jim Kearns whose son used a handgun to commit suicide in August. Kearns says his son bought the gun to kill himself.

Wyoming Legislature

The Wyoming Senate is debating a bill that could lead to a long awaited 20 year plan to diversify Wyoming’s economy. The bill sets up the Economically Needed Diversity Options For Wyoming Council, or ENDOW Council.

Senate President Eli Bebout said it’s difficult to get legislators to think long term, but he thinks the current economic climate will help.

Bob Beck

The Wyoming House of Representatives is debating three bills that would allow concealed weapons in places where they are currently banned.

One bill allows concealed carry permit holders to have guns on the University of Wyoming campus, including athletic events. The House had a lengthy discussion over whether UW trustees should be allowed to declare parts of the campus off limits to guns. That amendment failed. Casper Representative Bunky Loucks says having guns on campus will keep it safe.

Wyoming highway patrol

The Wyoming Senate has passed a bill that enhances the penalties for fleeing a police officer or attempting to flee a police officer. 

The bill makes it a felony if a driver tries to elude a police officer and drives recklessly. The penalty is further enhanced if the driver injures someone or causes property damage. 

LaGrange Senator Curt Meier said someone who is driving recklessly is not necessarily committing a felony, and that the bill goes too far.

Bob Beck

In an effort to bring more young people to the state, Speaker of the House Steve Harshman wants to expand the Hathaway Scholarship to out of state students.

To qualify, a student will need a cumulative grand point average of 3.75 and be in the 96 percentile on either the SAT or ACT. The catch is that students must repay the scholarship either by working in the state or by paying out of pocket after they graduate. Harshman said that he believes if students come here, they will want to stay and that will help the economy.    

The House Education Committee has given approval to a bill that would set up a group of legislators and citizens to find solutions for solving the public education shortfall.

Speaker of the House Steve Harshman says the legislation is a fall back in case other reform measures are defeated. He says the goal is to come up with a thoughtful solution.

To do a reasonable, comprehensive solution that I think where most people in Wyoming where you sit down and have a cup of coffee with in Wyoming would say, that sounds reasonable to me.”

Wyoming Public Radio News Director Bob Beck joins Morning Edition Host Caroline Ballard to discuss the latest news from the Wyoming Legislature.

Melodie Edwards

The Wyoming House of Representatives has started working on a bill that is intended to better help social studies teachers teach about the Tribes on the Wind River Reservation. 

The legislation provides the resources so that teachers across the state help students learn a number of things about the tribes and Native Americans. Some have expressed concern that it could burden already overworked teachers, House Floor Leader David Miller says it won’t.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

A Wyoming legislative committee has given unanimous support to an ambitious bill intended to reduce prison sentences, provide more probation, and provide enhanced rehabilitation to those convicted of crimes. 

The Criminal Justice Reform measure is viewed by many in law enforcement as a way to treat people in a way that will prevent them from re-committing crimes. The tough sell may be the $2.8 million price tag at a time of fiscal austerity. orrections Substance Abuse Specialist Frank Craig says Wyoming can expect a great deal of savings in the long run.

LSO

The House sponsors of a controversial piece of legislation say they will remove House Bill 135 from consideration.

The bill was called the Government Nondiscrimination Act and was aimed at protecting business owners and employees from being punished or sued for not serving or selling to gay people because of moral or religious beliefs. It also trumped local ordinances that protected gay and transgender people.

Albany County Sheriffs Office

The Wyoming Supreme Court has reversed four felony convictions against former Albany County Attorney Richard Bohling.

Bohling had been convicted of obtaining property under false pretenses for purchasing cameras and electronic equipment using county money and a county credit card. He was found guilty by a jury and had been sentenced to serve two to four years in prison. 

Wyoming Legislature

The Wyoming House of Representatives has started debating a bill that will change how teachers are evaluated.   

The teacher accountability bill takes the state out of monitoring teachers and gives that power to local school districts. The change is supported by school districts and teachers.

Pinedale Representative Albert Sommers says having locals evaluate teachers is a much better approach.     

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

A Wyoming legislative committee soundly defeated a bill that would have substantially increased the state’s wind tax. 

The bill, which was supported by House Revenue Committee Chairman Mike Madden and others, would have raised Wyoming’s wind tax from a dollar a megawatt hour to five dollars a megawatt hour. 

Bob Beck

  

After a historic downturn in revenue, the Wyoming legislature has started this year’s session with a number of concerns. They still have a $150 million shortfall in revenue to fund their current budget and K-12 education funding has a $400 million deficit and they have no money for school construction. While legislative committees have been focused on other issues, there will soon come a point where lawmakers need to figure out how to move forward. 

Wyoming Legislature

 

Wyoming’s revenue downturn has forced lawmakers to take a look at cutting a lot of money from education. K-12 education has a $400 million shortfall. Speaker of the House Steve Harshman joins Bob Beck to discuss the problem and how they plan to fix it.

 

U.S. Senate

Listen to the whole show here. 

Wyoming Senators Look to Dump the ACA 

Wyoming's two senators are set to play a key role in the Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare. Senate Republicans, led by Senator Mike Enzi took their first steps towards repealing the Affordable Care Act in a late night session.

Bob Beck

The Wyoming legislative session is underway and 24 new legislators enjoyed their first week in office. With such high turnover it wouldn’t be a surprise if some veteran lawmakers weren’t just a bit leery having so many freshmen joining the ranks, but House Majority Leader David Miller said it’s a good time for new ideas.

Photo Courtesy of Wyoming Supreme Court

This week the Wyoming Supreme Court unveiled its much anticipated Judicial Learning Center. It features a movie, interactive exhibits, including an area where visitors can be the judge in a case. Retired Supreme Court Justice Marilyn Kite says the idea came from the Colorado legislature that developed a way for citizens to better understand the rule of law. After getting legislative and private money to develop the center even Kite is surprised with what they came up with. 

Craig Blumenshine / Wyoming PBS

Wyoming legislators were generally in agreement with Governor Matt Mead’s priorities following his annual State of the State message.  

Mead said  lawmakers need to resolve an education funding shortfall and figure out how to best use the state’s rainy day fund. Sheridan Senator Dave Kinskey said he agrees with that, but while the governor doesn’t want to see more budget cuts, Kinskey said he wants to try and reduce spending before they have to consider using savings or raising taxes.

Bob Beck

 

It’s been a rough year for state officials. A greater than expected revenue decline last spring forced lawmakers to cut $67 million out of existing budgets, and the governor was forced to follow-up with an additional $250 million. While revenues are starting to show some moderate improvement, lawmakers will soon be debating the wisdom of even more cuts, especially as a revenue shortfall for education looms.

ESPN

The Wyoming Cowboys football team preparing for its first bowl appearance in five years when it faces an old foe in Brigham Young in the Poinsettia Bowl. The two teams have not played each other since 2010 when BYU decided to leave the Mountain West Conference. Over the years BYU has dominated the rivalry and if the Cowboys win it will be the first victory over the Cougars since 2003. 

Stuart and Jen Robertson - Flickr: State Penitentiery, Rawlins Wyoming

Members of a task force that reviewed a wide range of structural problems at the Wyoming maximum security prison in Rawlins stressed that they believe using up to $125 million to fix the facility will work.

Associated Press

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry has reportedly been named to lead the Department of Energy under President Elect Donald Trump.  

Opponents express concern that Perry is a climate denier and has ties to the Dakota Access Pipeline. But supporters say Texas enhanced its energy portfolio by becoming the nation’s largest wind producer.

Petroleum Association of Wyoming President Bruce Hinchey says Perry will likely be a plus for states like Wyoming.

Rebecca Huntington / Wyoming Public Radio

The State of Wyoming has reached agreement with the U.S. Department of Interior over the sale of a 640 acre parcel of Wyoming school trust land located inside of Grand Teton National Park.

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