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 / Wyoming Public Radio

A bill that is intended to be the Wyoming’s alternative to expanding Medicaid was approved by the State Senate Monday. 

The bill is sponsored by Casper Senator Charles Scott, a longtime opponent of Medicaid expansion. If the bill passes, Scott said the legislature will design a program that will provide medical assistance to those who cannot afford health insurance.

The Wyoming Senate has amended a bill that would have made possession of three ounces of edible marijuana a felony.

Fearing that was too severe, the Senate changed the bill to say that three convictions in three years would equal a felony. But the first offense would be a low misdemeanor with a fine up to $300 and eight days in jail, while the second offense would equal up to 30 days in jail and a thousand dollar fine.  

Casper Republican Bill Landen favored making it a low misdemeanor on a first offense.

The Wyoming Senate has approved a bill that would reform how the state handles people involuntarily hospitalized due to mental health issues. 

The Wyoming House of Representatives added an eleventh hour amendment to the state budget that could be a big topic of discussion when the budget conference committee meets this week. 

The Senate voted down three amendments to restore some of the nearly 46 million dollars in budget cuts to education, but the House adjusted how the budget reductions will be handled. The plan was originally to take the money out of what school districts use to pay for rising classroom costs and teacher salaries, but the House restored those cuts and instead reduced funding for Transportation.  

This week budget negotiators from the House and Senate will iron out differences in the state budget.

 

The budget was approved Friday and features roughly 100 million in agency budget cuts. It eliminates an elderly and disabled tax rebate program and the Wyoming family literacy program. The Senate also voted not to include Medicaid expansion in the budget while the House didn't take the issue up.  

 

The Senate voted 20-10 against a budget amendment that would have expanded Medicaid for two years. It would have benefited nearly 20-thousand Wyoming low-income residents who either cannot get insurance or afford it. 

Governor Matt Mead pushed hard for the expansion and even Senate Appropriations Chairman Tony Ross was a supporter, saying the 278 million dollars the state would receive would help balance the budget. That money would have been used to pay for the expansion and other health care services. 

State Of Wyoming

The Wyoming Senate voted 15-14 to continuing debating whether to get rid of the Office of Consumer Advocate by 2017. The office represents Wyoming consumers in utility rate cases. 

Miles Bryan

The Wyoming Senate is working on a bill that is intended to reform how people can be involuntarily detained in a mental health crisis. The system is known as Title 25. 

The legislation is attempting to give courts the ability to order people to undergo outpatient treatment and ensure there’s someone to monitor those released from a mental health hold.

Cheyenne Attorney Linda Burt said she has serious concerns with the legislation, mainly because it lacks adequate funding. She noted other states that have outpatient commitment also have lots of services.

The Wyoming House of Representatives added 15 million additional dollars to a bill that would fund local cities, towns and counties across the state. 

The amendment by Cody Republican Sam Krone increased the funding from 90 million to 105 million dollars.

Despite concerns that they could be making felons out of too many people, the State Senate gave initial approval to a bill that would make three ounces of marijuana-infused edibles felony. 

The legislature is clarifying the edible marijuana law after a judge ruled that there is no way of knowing whether there is enough marijuana in an edible to warrant a felony conviction. The bill says three ounces is the weight of the entire product.
 
Gillette Republican Michael Von Flatern says people could be convicted of a felony for a minimal amount of marijuana.

A Wyoming Senate committee has voted in favor of a bill that is attempting to clarify a controversial data trespass law. 

The law says people are guilty of trespassing if they gather water samples, take pictures, or collect any other type of data on private or so-called open lands without permission. Some argue that “open lands” could refer to public lands or national parks. The new legislation removes the phrase “open lands” from the law and instead says people can’t gather data on private property without permission. 

The Wyoming Senate voted 16 to 14 to use 24 million dollars of Abandoned Mine Land money to both move highway 59 in Campbell County and to make it safer. In addition Campbell County will have to guarantee ten million dollars of the 34 million dollar cost. 

Senator Michael Von Flatern said diverting highway 59  will allow a coal company to mine the land where the roads sits now.    

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

A Wyoming Senate Committee has decided that possession of three ounces or more of marijuana-laced food or drink should equal a felony.  

Some judges in the state have ruled that current Wyoming law does not criminalize marijuana-laced products, the legislation would fix that. 

While the state doesn’t have the ability to test the level of the psychoactive chemical THC in edible marijuana, Byron Oedekoven of the Wyoming Association of Sheriffs and Chiefs of Police says most marijuana edibles they see are strictly labeled. 

Wyoming Legislature

After a week of relative calm, the Wyoming legislative session is about to get a little more heated. Falling energy prices has led to a decline of over 500 million dollars in state revenue.

On Monday, the Wyoming legislature will look at crafting the next two year budget with a series of bills that address topics ranging from general government operations to building projects.  

The Joint Appropriations Committee has passed a budget that features a 1.5 percent across the board cut for most agencies and spends 310 million out of the state’s 2 billion dollar rainy day fund.

House Appropriations Chairman Steve Harshman said declining energy prices convinced the committee to try and cut the budget as much as it could to meet existing revenues. The across the board cut is an effort to give state agencies the ability to determine their own priorities.

Bob Beck

The Wyoming Senate has voted to give initial support to a bill that would prevent school administrators from requiring students to provide passwords to their Facebook and Twitter profiles, as well as other digital media accounts. 

Senate File 14 is intended to protect student data privacy. Baggs Republican Larry Hicks expressed concern that the legislation could prevent schools from investigating threats of suicide or violence. 

The Wyoming legislature will once again debate whether to allow concealed guns in some gun free zones. The House of Representatives voted to consider a bill that would allow citizens to bring concealed guns to the legislative session, committee meetings, and any other government meetings. 

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead told the state legislature that it needs to be proactive during these tough budget times, but not to prioritize savings over people.

During his annual State of the State message Mead expressed disappointment over a number of budget cuts made by the Joint Appropriations Committee in recent weeks.    

Governor Mead asked legislators to support Medicaid expansion in his biennial budget. That request was rejected which led to additional budget cuts. During his state of the state address he expressed concern about that.

Wyoming legislators have voted to introduce a series of education bills addressing everything from new ways to measure student progress to student privacy when it comes to email and social media. But the House voted down a measure intended to make schools safer.

For the second year in a row, lawmakers were asked to consider a measure that would have developed a statewide school safety plan, including a federally funded tip line. Pinedale Representative Albert Sommers says a similar program has worked well in Colorado

StoryCorps

Wyoming basketball legend Kenny Sailors died last week at the age of 95. He was widely credited with creating and developing the modern day jump shot and was the first to use it as a pro basketball player. But what should not be missed is that he was one of the great players of his time. Sailors led the Wyoming Cowboys to the national title in 1943, he was a national player of the year, a three time All-American, and one of the pioneers of the NBA. But most of his life was outside of basketball.

Bob Beck

  

Legislators have been talking about reforming health care in the state for at least 25 years. Access to health care providers is difficult, finding affordable health care is a challenge, and so after another Medicaid Expansion defeat the legislature’s Health and Labor committee spent the summer trying to find ways to improve health care in the state without spending much money. 

Gillette Representative Eric Barlow said the committee crafted 17 bills that will address a wide range of issues in health care. One bill involves nurses.

Liz Cheney

Republican Liz Cheney has made it official, she is running to become Wyoming’s next U.S. Representative.

Cheney is running on a platform of overturning policies put in place by the Obama administration. Cheney said that includes what she calls the “war on coal”

The Wyoming Athletics program is fondly remembering three time All American and former national player of the year Kenny Sailors who died in his sleep Saturday at the age of 95. 

Thanks to dropping energy prices, Wyoming’s sales tax collections are down 75 million dollars compared to the same time last year. 

The State Economic Analysis Division says after the first six months of the fiscal year, sales and use tax collections have declined by 17 percent compared to the same time period last year. Economist Jim Robinson says it’s been awhile since Wyoming has seen such a downturn.

You know you probably have to go back to the recession of 2008 to see numbers we are looking at right now I think.”

Yellowstone’s expert on grizzly bears says it’s time to delist them. Bear Management biologist Kerry Gunther edited the recent Yellowstone Science magazine dedicated to grizzly bear recovery.

“Where are the grizzly bears” is one of the most frequently asked questions at Yellowstone Park Entrances. That question often gets answered now.

Yellowstone Bear Management Specialist Kerry Gunther said in the early eighties it was rare to see any bear in the Park. But things have changed.

Bob Beck

Thanks to a downturn in energy prices, Wyoming lawmakers are in a bind. As legislators prepare for the upcoming legislative session they will likely have to cut the budget, dip into reserves, and possibly divert money from flowing into reserve accounts in order to pay for the next two years.

Victor Ashear

As we continue our series looking at serious mental health issues we turn our attention to a workbook intended to help those with these serious issues change their outlook.

Doctor Victor Ashear was a long time clinical psychologist at the Sheridan VA and a current private practitioner in Sheridan who deals with those who have serious mental illness. He is joined by his editor and former suicide prevention specialist Vanessa Hastings. Dr. Ashear’s book is called Self-Acceptance: The Key to Recovery from Mental Illness.  

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