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

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.  

The legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee has rejected a request by Governor Matt Mead to include Medicaid Expansion in the state budget. 

Casper Republican Representative Tim Stubson says expanding Medicaid in the budget would remove some cost containment provisions that lawmakers included in previous legislation. He noted a study that said expansion would pull 5-thousand people out of the state’s insurance market.

The latest report from Wyoming’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Group says low oil prices and other factors have increased Wyoming’s current revenue shortfall by 32 million dollars and the shortfall for the next budget cycle by another 46 million. 

Bob Beck

The Wyoming Department of Transportation says several two-lane rural highways will see their speed limits increased to 70 miles an hour. 

The three highway sections that have been approved for the higher speed limit are US 85 from I-25 near Cheyenne to Newcastle, Wyoming 120 from Cody to the Montana border, and Wyoming 130 from I-80 to Saratoga. 

The legislature allowed for some two-lane rural highways to have their speeds increased, if WYDOT determined that the increase would be safe for motorists.

sdstate.edu

  

Incoming University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols has a lot to do prior to taking over her officials duties. She is already working with trustees and UW officials on a transition plan to get off to a fast start when she begins the job May 16th. Nichols plan to come to Laramie for a couple of days a month until that time and also plans to stop by the Wyoming legislative session. She tells Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck that she’s working hard to make the transition smooth.

uwyo.edu

  

The American Cancer Society has awarded a University of Wyoming Researcher nearly 800-thousand dollars for what he hopes will be groundbreaking cancer research. Daniel Levy is an assistant professor in molecular biology. He tells Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck that he’s been studying cancer cells for a number of years.  

A Casper lawmaker is pushing the idea of the state ending its partnership with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and creating its own health and safety inspection program.  

The discussion comes as OSHA fines will increase 80 percent following the passage of federal legislation. Casper Senator Charles Scott says federal OSHA regulations hurt efforts to improve workplace safety in the state.

Bob Beck

The  Wyoming legislature's management council agrees that more work is needed to reform Title 25 in the state. That deals with people involuntarily detained in a mental health crisis. 

A select committee of legislators recently drafted a bill that gives courts the ability to force people to undergo outpatient treatment, but Wyoming Department of Health Director Tom Forlslund said he and the committee are trying to come up with other reforms as well.

sdstate.edu

The incoming President of the University of Wyoming said she is busy setting the stage for a fast start when she begins her new job late this spring. 

Laurie Nichols has been working on hiring a new Provost and looking at the best ways to review degree programs on campus. 

Cutting the state budget could be a difficult exercise, but one approach could involve new ways to do things. 

Senate President Phil Nicholas does not think lawmakers have gone on a spending spree in recent years, but he does believe they should revisit some decisions. For instance in the area of mental health the state spent a lot of money providing grants in an effort to improve service. Nicholas says they need to study to see if decisions like that one were effective.

Wyoming men’s basketball coach Larry Shyatt is furious that the Mountain West Conference did not consult with coaches or athletes before deciding this month to only allow eight of eleven conference teams to play in the Mountain West Conference basketball tournament.

The decision was made in a meeting of conference President’s and Athletic Directors and Shyatt says it was done secretly.

"No notice, no inclusion, no communication, not one word uttered to an assistant commissioner in charge of basketball, there seems to be a degree of behind the scenes plotting."

sdstate.edu

University of Wyoming trustees have chosen South Dakota State University administrator Laurie Nichols to be the next president of UW. She is the first woman to hold the post. 

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Local government funding will be among the most debated topics during the upcoming legislative session. Due to a revenue shortfall, Governor Mead has cut funding for local government from 175 million dollars two years ago down to 90 million for the next two years. 

A number of cities and county governments have instituted hiring freezes and are looking at major cuts in an effort to deal with the shortfall. Laramie Democratic Representative Cathy Connolly says that is a massive cut to local government funding and Republican Senator Drew Perkins said it comes at a bad time.

Bob Beck

Listen to the full show here.   

Wyo. Lawmakers Send Power Over Education To State

It took Congress eight years and countless hours of listening to angry teachers and parents, but No Child Left Behind is soon to be a thing of the past. Matt Laslo reports from Washington that Congress and the White House agreed to scrap the hated Bush-era law.

Healthcare.gov

 

Tuesday is an important date for those hoping to sign up for health insurance. Enrollment has been underway since November for those who purchase health care coverage through the federal marketplace via the website HealthCare.gov. Kevin Counihan oversees that effort and he joins Bob Beck to explain why Tuesday is so important.

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