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.

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Guns
6:15 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

House Judiciary Committee supports gun rights bills

Some Wyoming legislators are working to thwart anticipated federal efforts to ban semi-automatic weapons or limit the size of gun magazines with the state’s boundaries.  They also support allowing concealed firearms in government buildings and schools.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill that prevents such laws, and also says that anyone trying to enforce a federal gun ban in Wyoming could face felony charges. 

Wyoming Gun Owners Association Director Anthony Bouchard told the committee that the time is right for such legislation.

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Superintendent
5:43 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Gov. Mead strips power from State Superintendent, Hill sues

  Governor Matt Mead has signed into law a bill that strips powers from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. In turn Superintendent Cindy Hill has filed suit, claiming that the new law is unconstitutional. 

Mead also announced that Community College Director Jim Rose will serve as the interim Director of Education. 

Mead said he did a lot of soul-searching before agreeing to sign the bill.

“I don’t think anybody would view this as a celebration, I think we would view it as a duty we must go forward on for the kids in Wyoming,” Mead says.

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News
7:05 am
Tue January 29, 2013

House committee defeats anti-abortion bill

A Wyoming House committee has voted to defeat a bill that would have made it felony for an abortion to be performed after an embryo or fetus has a heartbeat.  

Representative Sue Wallis of Recluse testified that she’s had an abortion and it is nobody’s business but hers.

"Thank God this travesty of state-sponsored intrusion into my difficult decision at that time was not in place," Wallis said. "And I pray that it’s not foisted on my daughters or granddaughters."

But Representative Mark Baker of Rock Springs says that’s what the legislature is supposed to do.

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civil union
5:54 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

House committee approves bill that would allow civil unions for same-sex couples

A Wyoming House committee passed a bill that would allow civil unions for same-sex couples.

A Wyoming legislative committee has approved a bill that would allow civil unions between same sex couples in the state on a 7 to 2 vote.  The Committee voted down a bill that would have legalized gay marriage on a 5 to 4 vote. 

The Civil Unions bill passed despite some strong opposition.  Cheyenne Representative Lynn Hutchings urged the committee not to consider either bill a matter of civil rights.  She testified that as an African American she is offended by such comparisons. 

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News
11:53 am
Mon January 28, 2013

Committee approves cigarette tax hike

A House committee has approved a bill that would raise the cigarette tax by five-cents-per-cigarette and a dollar a pack.  Republican Representative Gerald Gay of Casper is the main sponsor.  He says money from the increase will help offset rising Medicaid costs.

“And tobacco is related to that because tobacco has such a profound impact on health care," Gay said. "So we figured out a way to sort of frontload  health care costs against one of the biggest health care users that there is.”

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Hunting
4:51 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

House committee defeats hunting license fee hike

Credit Wyoming Game and Fish Department

A bill that would have increased hunting license fees by nearly 20-percent was defeated by a Wyoming House committee that wants further study of the proposal. 

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department says the money is needed to address a revenue shortfall and would have raised about eight million dollars a year by 2016.  But some challenged the need for the increase. 

Bob Wharff of the group Wyoming Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife says he feared that the increase would drive away hunters, especially those from out-of-state.

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Superintendent
4:45 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

House votes to remove duties from State Superintendent

Members of the gallery watch the superintendent debate.
Credit Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

After two weeks of discussion, the Wyoming Legislature has voted to remove some duties from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.  The legislation awaits the signature of Governor Matt Mead. 

The bill would hand over administration of the State Department of Education to a Governor appointed Director of Education. 

Opponents of the bill once again complained that they were going against voters who supported the election of Superintendent Cindy Hill by a two-to-one margin. 

Rock Springs Republican Stephen Watt again asked the House to slow down.

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Medicaid
5:24 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Medicaid overhaul bill passes the Senate

Wyoming Sen. Charles Scott

The State Senate has approved a bill that changes the way Medicaid services are administered in Wyoming. 

Senate Health and Labor Committee Chairman Charles Scott says it would make a number of changes, especially for those with brain injuries and developmental disabilities, where large numbers of people are on a waiting list to get services. 

Scott says they will address the program by making sure that everyone does not qualify for more insurance than they need.

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Superintendent
3:48 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

House battle over State Superintendent position rages on

The Wyoming House of Representatives defeated a pair of amendments during the second day of debate on a bill that would remove some duties from the State Superintendent and give them to a governor-appointed Director of Education.  

Jackson Republican Keith Gingery asked for $20,000 to be set aside to allow State Superintendent Cindy Hill to fight her loss of power in court.  During that discussion Gingery expressed disappointment about the tone of the debate on the issue.

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News
3:43 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Food Freedom Act passes

Credit Irina Zhorov

The Wyoming House of Representatives has passed a bill that would de-regulate the sale of homemade foods at farmers markets and between producers and consumers.  Republican Sue Wallis of Recluse says it would allow the sale of meat and unpasteurized, raw milk.  Lawmakers considered removing meat from the bill, but the amendment was defeated.  Wallis says if consumers buy locally, that money will get spread throughout communities.    

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News
6:13 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

WY Senate approves Medicaid fraud bill

The State Senate has unanimously passed a bill that would allow the State of Wyoming to investigate those suspected of Medicaid fraud.  Currently, the state can only launch such an investigation with federal approval.  Senator Ray Peterson of Cowley says that the state believes it could recover millions in fraud if the legislation is approved. 

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News
5:56 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

WY House gives initial approval to bill that would remove power from Superintendent Hill

The Wyoming House of Representatives has given initial approval to a bill that would remove key powers from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and give them to an appointed Education Director. 

The House debated the bill for almost two hours. Many representatives expressed concern that the legislature was taking power away from the voters and others were concerned about how quickly the legislature is moving to pass the bill. Lyman Republican Allen Jaggi says he’s heard from constituents who share those concerns.

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News
12:04 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Medicaid expansion in WY gets a 'do not pass' recommendation from Sen. Health & Labor Committee

The Senate Health and Labor Committee has voted down a measure that would expand Medicaid services in the state.  The program would allow more low income people to qualify for health insurance coverage. 

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News
12:04 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Medicaid expansion in WY gets a 'do not pass' recommendation from Sen. Health & Labor Committee

The Senate Health and Labor Committee has voted down a measure that would expand Medicaid services in the state.  The program would allow more low income people to qualify for health insurance coverage. 

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Medicaid
5:33 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Health organizations support Medicaid expansion

A number of Wyoming health care organizations held a news conference in Cheyenne urging state lawmakers to pass a bill that would expand Medicaid services to more state residents.

Wyoming Hospital Association Director Dan Perdue says the bill will improve health care for more citizens.  He says it will also save the state money.

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Medicaid
5:05 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Wyoming Senate takes on Medicaid overhaul

The State Senate has begun overhauling the Wyoming Medicaid program. 

The bill attempts to slow down rising costs of the program through a variety of reforms that would both cap payments and try to put less critical clients into lower cost programs. 

Senate Labor and Health Committee Chairman Charles Scott says savings could range between $30 million and $113 million, depending on which reforms the federal government allows the state to go forward with.

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Education
5:01 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Wyoming Senate kills two education bills, approves energy curriculum

Credit Creative Commons / www.wildretina.com

The Wyoming Senate defeated two education bills and passed one during final debate on all three measures. 

The Senate defeated one bill that would require parental permission for someone under the age of 18 to drop out of school.  The Senate also killed a bill that would have required students to take four years of math in order to graduate.  Both bills were sponsored by Democrat Chris Rothfuss of Laramie. 

The Senate did approve a bill that puts in place a new energy and natural resources curriculum for schools. 

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News
5:35 am
Tue January 22, 2013

Legislative panel says no to cell phone ban, approves legalizing hitchhiking

The Senate Transportation Committee has voted down a bill that would ban cell phone use on Wyoming highways, while approving a measure that would legalize hitchhiking.

Senator Floyd Esquibel of Cheyenne wanted to eliminate most cell phone use for safety reasons, but the committee voted the bill down with little discussion by a three to two vote. 

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Medicaid
5:29 pm
Mon January 21, 2013

Senate debates legislation that would allow prosecution in Medicaid fraud cases

Wyoming Senate discusses Medicaid fraud.
Credit Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming is one of eight states that does not have the ability to pursue false claims in Medicaid cases.  A bill being debated in the state Senate would change that. 

Senator Ray Peterson says conservative estimates suggest that Wyoming is likely losing 15 million dollars a year to overbilling in Medicaid cases.  His bill would allow the state to investigate and prosecute Medicaid fraud.

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Health Care
4:08 pm
Mon January 21, 2013

Wyoming House votes to open health insurance market to out-of-state companies

The Wyoming House of Representatives has passed a bill that would open up Wyoming’s health insurance market to out-of-state companies. 

The goal of the legislation is to provide more insurance options to consumers.  But Evansville Republican Kendall Kroeker says the bill would do anything but.

“So all it does is protect the couple of insurance companies that are here and limits competition by not allowing anybody to offer anything different than is being offered,” Kroeker says.

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News
5:32 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

WY Senate to continue debate over energy & natural resource curriculum

The State Senate has given initial approval to a plan to develop an energy and natural resource curriculum for Wyoming schools.  The program will be based on a current agriculture curriculum that helps students learn more about that industry.   Glenrock Senator Jim Anderson, a retired school teacher, says the curriculum will help students learn more about the biggest industry in the state.  But some Senators are uncomfortable with the state dictating an industry curriculum for schools.  Anderson pointed out that districts only have to adopt the program if they want to.

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News
4:54 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

UW's School of Energy Resources receives large gift from Hess Corp.

The University of Wyoming School of Energy Resources is getting $4.4 million from the Hess Corporation to help fund a program that will investigate the flow of oil and gas through tight shale and sandstone.  It’s part of a UW effort to research unconventional oil and gas reservoirs through the Center for Advanced Oil and Gas technologies.   The Hess donation will specifically go towards the Nano Resolution Imaging Laboratory.  State matching funds make it a gift of nearly $9 million.  Governor Matt Mead says the gifts will lead to creative ways to improve energy development in Wyoming.

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Gas tax
3:32 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

WY House votes to raise the gas tax

The Wyoming House of Representatives has voted to increase the state gas tax by ten cents per gallon. 

Supporters say the money is needed to pay the costs of road maintenance, but opponents say citizens cannot afford the tax. 

Rock Springs Republican Stephen Watt urged the use of state reserve funds to pay for roads instead.

“At some point in time we need to say that today is rainy and we need to spend some of our rainy day money,” Watt says. “Let’s not add more of a burden on our constituents with this tax.”

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News
10:28 am
Fri January 18, 2013

Lawmakers seek to strip power from schools superintendent

The Wyoming legislature wraps up its second week today.  Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck is covering the session and joins us now to talk about lawmakers' attempts to restructure how the state's schools are governed.

Judicial
7:10 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Legislature might raise retirement age for judges and justices

The Wyoming House has given final approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that would remove the mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court Justices and District Court Judges. 

The current age is 70; the new legislation would raise the retirement age to 75.

Cheyenne Republican Dan Zwonitzer is sponsoring the bill and he says the state has lost some good judges this way.

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health care
7:02 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Wyoming House considers allowing out-of-state health insurance companies to market within the state

Rep. Eric Barlow

In an effort to find ways to offer health insurance to citizens, the Wyoming House of Representatives is considering a bill that would allow insurance companies from outside of the state to offer policies to Wyoming residents. 

The House gave initial approval to the bill that will also allow in-state companies to match the price offered by the out of state insurance company.  Supporters see this as a way to provide consumers a more competitive marketplace for health insurance.  Some feared the measure could hurt Wyoming’s health insurance providers. 

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Education
6:44 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Senate debates raising dropout age

In an effort to improve Wyoming Graduation rates, Senator Chris Rothfuss is pushing a bill that would require students to stay in school until graduation or age 18. 

If they need to drop out of school between the ages of 16 and 18, they will require written parental permission.  Currently Wyoming students can drop out of school after the age of 16. 

Rothfuss says they are trying to raise the education bar. 

Fellow Senator Bill Landen had opposed the bill, but he says he’s changed his mind.

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News
3:43 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

WY Senate approves bill that could reduce number of full time magistrates

The State Senate has approved a bill that gives the Wyoming Supreme Court the authority to reduce the number of full time Circuit Court magistrates. A magistrate is appointed by a Judge to oversee court duties when the Judge is not present.  In rural areas a magistrate handles minor judicial duties.

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Medicaid
6:48 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Senate committee approves Medicaid reform bill

After several days of discussion, the Senate Health and Labor Committee has approved a bill that is intended to reform Medicaid in Wyoming. 

Medicaid is an expensive program for the state to run and lawmakers have been looking at how to reduce costs, but not take away services.  One significant change would be how the state handles those with developmental disabilities and brain injuries. 

The state spends 120 million dollars a year on those services. 

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gas tax
6:45 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

State House supports gas tax increase

The Wyoming House of Representatives has given initial approval to a bill raising Wyoming’s fuel tax by ten cents, from 14 cents a gallon to 24 cents. 

House Revenue Committee Chairman Mike Madden says the state has spent millions from Wyoming's General fund to pay for roads, and he says they need more revenue to pay for maintenance and construction.  

Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau says the increase is justified.

“What this tax is is a user fee,” Lubnau says.  It’s a self-supported user fee that supports our highways.” 

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