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

A survey of Wyoming teens finds that their use of alcohol and cigarettes is declining.

The 2014 Prevention Needs Assessment student survey provides detailed state, county, and school district data on self-reported substance use and participation in problem behaviors among Wyoming youth.

The survey was conducted for the Wyoming Department of Health by UW’s Survey and Analysis Center. Researcher Eric Canen says the information is notable. 

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

The Wyoming Legislature has approved a bill that is intended to help hospitals in the state cover costs for patients who cannot afford to pay for health care. 

After lawmakers rejected the $100 million a year in federal funds that would have come from Medicaid Expansion, this was viewed as a last ditch attempt to help hospitals. But opponents say the bill just throws money at the problem.

Senate Labor and Health Committee Chairman Charles Scott says the two and a half million dollars in the bill will help some of the small hospitals in the state.

The Wyoming Legislative session ended today and in his closing remarks Governor Matt Mead urged lawmakers to find a solution to a number of health care problems in the state.   The legislature voted against taking more than 100 million dollars in federal money to expand Medicaid and provide health care services to 17,600  people. Mead said legislators need to find solutions.

Wyoming victims of sexual assault will now be able to get a protection order without the necessity of proving their case in court. Governor Matt Mead signed a bill into law that provides victims a protection order of six months that can be renewed up to a year. 

Green River Senator John Hastert says it allows a victim to get protection from their assailant if they choose not to pursue criminal charges. 

A bill headed to the Governor's desk allows the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority to issue up to one billion dollars in bonds to support construction of out-of-state coal ports.  Senator Michael Von Flatern says the bill allows the Authority to borrow money from investors for the bond, which can then be lent to projects elsewhere.

“A great morale booster by the way, so if the state’s showing that it’s willing to put up bonding ability, or allow an authority to have bonding ability it may make a project look more viable than if we weren’t gonna put any skin in the game.”

Wyoming's legislative session is coming to a close. Wyoming Public Radio News Director Bob Beck joined Morning Edition Host Caroline Ballard for an overview of this year's goings-on.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

The Wyoming Senate decided that a bill that would have provided a mechanism for guns to be in schools and gun free zones was not ready for prime time. The Senate voted 25 to 3 to kill that bill with no debate. It ends debate on the issue for the year. 

The bill originally mandated that guns be allowed in schools, colleges, and government meetings, but Senator Hank Coe successfully amended the bill to leave those decisions up to local governing bodies. Lander Republican Cale Case favored the House version of the bill.

The House and Senate will convene a conference committee to try and iron out a piece of legislation that supporters say is key to education reform. 

The bill sets up the next phase of a school accountability program that grades educators and provides help if they aren't meeting expectations. The House voted to remove state oversight from the bill. Pinedale Representative Albert Sommers says it goes too far.

The Wyoming Senate continues working on a bill that would let school boards, college trustees, and local governments decide whether guns will be allows in their facilities. 

The Senate rejected several amendments, including one by Gillette Republican Jeff Wasserburger to add number of safety measures to the bill. Those measures included 20 hours of safety training for school employees and giving local entities the ability to revoke concealed carry permits.

Wasserburger is a school principal with mixed emotions about the bill.

 

An amendment that would have added gay and transgender people to a bill intended to protect Wyoming residents from housing discrimination—failed Tuesday.

Openly gay Laramie Democrat Cathy Connolly tried to add the two groups of people to the list of protected classes. Connolly, who is also a University of Wyoming Professor, says it’s a serious concern.

“I can tell you that at least once a year, a student comes to talk to me about the fear of losing his or her apartment or trailer, simply because they are gay.”

Credit Raif via Flickr

A bill that would provide funding to help hospitals pay for charity care has been reduced. The bill started at ten million dollars in the Senate, but the House on Tuesday voted to cut funding down to one million dollars.

The money will now be targeted for small hospitals with under 25 beds. Several Representatives say all hospitals need help, but Cheyenne Republican Bob Nicholas countered that, without a study, it’s impossible to say what amount of help larger hospitals really need.

An attempt to Wyoming to the list of states pushing for a balanced budget constitutional amendment has failed. 

The Senate handily rejected the measure due to fears that with only three congressional members, Wyoming would not have equal footing with other states.

Senator Phil Nicholas also had grave concerns that a balanced budget amendment could entice Congress to balance the federal budget by stealing Wyoming’s mineral wealth. 

Baggs Republican Larry Hicks says that was no reason to vote the measure down.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

The Wyoming Senate has voted to change a bill that was intended to allow guns in schools, colleges, athletic events, and government meetings.

The Senate adopted a revised bill that would leave the question of allowing firearms up to local governmental entities such as school boards.  Senator Hank Coe said that such decisions are best left to local governing bodies. 

Senator Curt Meier disagreed with the change.

A bill that would help hospitals pay for charity care is making its way through the House of Representatives. It would give hospitals 5 million dollars to help cover the cost of unpaid medical bills.

 The Wyoming Senate voted not to override Governor Matt Mead’s veto of a bill dealing with when law enforcement can seize property in a drug case. 

Currently, money or property can be seized without someone being charged with a crime. The bill would have required someone to be convicted of a felony before property could be seized.

Senator Leland Christensen says it was about protecting personal property. He added that the current standard is too low.

  

Some Call It A Disappointing Legislative Session

The Wyoming legislative session is coming up on its last week. It’s a session that’s seen the defeat of Medicaid Expansion and some other key issues. Because of that, critics say they really haven’t accomplished much, and some legislators agree.  

facebook.com/markgordon4wyoming

 

The Wyoming legislature is putting finishing touches on a proposed constitutional amendment that will allow the State Treasurer to invest money in equities or common stock. The idea is to enhance non-permanent state savings accounts. State Treasurer Mark Gordon joins Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck to explain why this is a good idea.

Bob Beck

The Wyoming legislative session is coming up on its last week. It’s a session that’s seen the defeat of Medicaid Expansion and some other key issues. Because of that, critics say they really haven’t accomplished much, and some legislators agree.

After each legislative session lawmakers return home to speak to service groups about their accomplishments. Gillette Senator Michael Von Flatern isn’t sure what they did.

“You know some days I really wonder (laughs), because I spent a whole week, at least a week on Medicaid expansion that didn’t go anywhere.”

The fate of the Next Generation Science Standards will soon be back in the hands of the State Board of Education.

Last year, the Legislature, through a budget amendment, blocked the state board from adopting the standards because of concerns about how they addressed climate change. 

A bill removing the budget footnote passed the House easily this year, but got hung up when Senator Eli Bebout added a last second amendment that instructed the board to adopt standards unique to Wyoming. 

Bebout says after a conference committee they came up with new language.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

A bill that would have removed gun free zones from Wyoming schools, athletic events, and government meetings has been substantially changed by the Senate Education Committee. 

The committee voted 3 to 2 to approve an amended bill that lets local school boards, college boards of trustees, and local government officials to decide if guns will be allowed within their facilities. 

Senator Hank Coe of Cody says local officials can better decide whether guns should be allowed in their jurisdiction.

A bill that was opposed by food safety officials has passed the Wyoming Senate. The Food Freedom Act allows Ag producers to sell such things as unregulated eggs and raw milk locally.  

Supporters say the Food Freedom Act will help Ag Producers make more money by allowing them to sell products locally. Senator Ogden Driskill says it legalizes a practice that has been going on for years. 

Casper Republican Charles Scott tried one last time to warn the Senate that selling raw milk is a bad idea because it could lead to disease outbreaks. 

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

A huge effort by business coalitions to pass a bill to provide workplace protections to gay and transgender people came to an end Tuesday.  The Wyoming House of Representatives defeated Senate File 115, a much talked about anti-discrimination measure, 33 to 24. 

Floor debate was between those who say that workplace protections for gay and transgender people would make Wyoming’s business climate more welcoming versus those who say it provided unnecessary special protections. 

A bill that would have banned the sale of powdered alcohol in the state has failed. 

 The Wyoming House of Representatives defeated the bill by one vote after several members said the legislature shouldn’t ban just one form of alcohol.  Riverton Republican David Miller says there appeared to be no reason to ban it. 

"It’s regulated, you have to be 21 to buy this stuff. I don’t know why we’re doing this, I can think of a lot of other things we probably shouldn’t be doing either, but we are not going out and making them illegal." 

Wisconsinwatch.org

The Wyoming Senate has rejected an amendment that would ban the sale of un-pasteurized milk during second reading debate over the Food Freedom Act. The legislation would allow farmers and ranchers to sell unregulated food products to consumers. Casper Senator Charles Scott attempted to remove milk from the bill. Scott says a number of diseases can come from unpasteurized milk sold on a widespread scale.

After several amendments the House Education Committee approved a bill that is intended to move forward with Wyoming’s education accountability system. 

After a series of amendments by Pinedale Republican Albert Sommers the committee pushed back the next phase of the accountability process. 

Sommers says he wanted to take another look at the accountability model and give the committee addressing accountability more time.  

A bill that would allow the sale of unregulated milk, eggs, and canned goods has received initial support by the Wyoming Senate. 

Senator Ogden Driskill says it will help agriculture producers generate income. Driskill says these goods exchange hands all the time anyway.

“What this bill does is makes a lot of what’s happening already legal and encourages farm to ranch markets in our cities and towns and throughout the country.”

The Wyoming Senate has given final approval to a bill allowing the state to partner with private business to convert Wyoming minerals to value-added products like ammonia and plastics.

Glenrock Senator Jim Anderson says with the downturn in energy prices business leaders in Converse County are excited about the possibilities.

“But we see this downturn as opportunity, not only as opportunity, but it necessitates that we go out and find other ways to market those products that we have in hand.”

Bob Beck

From time to time there are political issues that lead to questions about how much of impact religion has on the Wyoming legislature. The state is heavily dominated by Republicans and many outsiders figure that makes Wyoming’s politicians religiously conservative too. But while many lawmakers say their value systems were influenced by their religious beliefs. How they vote tends to depend on the issue. 

To be clear, religion does play a role on the floor of the legislature. For instance, every day the Wyoming Senate and House of Representatives begins with a prayer.

The Wyoming Senate has voted to give teachers a pay increase. The external cost adjustment will be the first that teachers have received since 2009. Senator Stan Cooper says a lack of cost of living adjustments has caused problems for rural school districts who are trying to hire new teachers. 

Glenrock Republican Jim Anderson adds that the energy boom in Converse County has driven up local rent and other costs. He says that has forced teachers to relocate.

    

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