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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News
6:49 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Senate Gives Final Approval To Cameras On School Buses

The Wyoming Senate gave final approval to a bill that sets aside $5 million for school districts to place cameras on school buses to catch motorists who illegally pass stopped buses.

Several senators opposed the bill saying  the focus should be on prevention.  One idea was to add more lights to the buses, so that motorists can't ignore them, but Sheridan Senator Bruce Burns says that won't do much. 

"This is happening 50,000 times a year in this state," Burns says. "I cannot believe that those people are not seeing those buses.  I think they are ignoring that law. "

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News
6:45 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

House Gives Initial Approval To Economic Loan Bill

Representative Sam Krone (H-24)

The Wyoming House of Representatives has given initial approval to a bill that sets up a state loan program and also helps fund the expansion of a Cody business. 

The bill allows loans to be used for large economic development projects.  It would also provides $24 million in state money for a company to expand its operation in Cody.  Officials say it will create over 100 jobs.  Cody Representative Sam Krone says these types of loans will help diversify Wyoming's economy.

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News
6:41 pm
Mon March 3, 2014

Budget Goes To The Governor And The Senate Debates Medicaid

The Wyoming House and Senate have agreed to changes in the state budget bill.  The bill gives public employees a roughly 2.4 percent pay hike, provides money for improvements at community colleges and the University of Wyoming, and $175 million for local governments.  Senator Eli Bebout called it a responsible budget.

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Legislative
6:26 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Budget Committee Votes In Favor Of Medicaid Expansion Proposal

Lawmakers finishing up work on the state budget have accepted a compromise amendment that encourages the Governor and other members of state government to figure out a way to expand Medicaid under Wyoming terms. 

Conference Committee members accepted a version of a House amendment that now says the state may work with federal officials on an expansion plan, as long as Medicaid Expansion doesn't harm Wyoming businesses.  Dan Neal of the Equality State Policy Center credits the public for convincing lawmakers to do something.

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Legislative
6:14 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Game And Fish Funding Bill Survives Another Day

The Wyoming House of Representatives again discussed whether to provide money to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for health insurance and for management of grizzly bears. 

Wednesday the House voted down an attempt to remove the Grizzly funding and Thursday the House defeated an amendment that would have removed health insurance funds.  House Floor Leader Kermit Brown says the additional money is needed because lawmakers won't approve license fee increases.

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Legislative
5:55 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

House Approves Data Safety Legislation

Many parent groups across the nation are expressing concern about the data school districts collect on students and how it’s used. 

Wyoming’s House of Representatives has approved a bill requiring the development of a plan that would help keep data confidential.  Laramie Democrat Cathy Connolly said that parents have expressed a number of concerns.

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Legislative
5:51 pm
Thu February 27, 2014

Money Restored To Add Cameras On School Buses

The Wyoming Senate gave initial approval to a bill that would place cameras on school buses. The idea is to capture motorists who illegally pass buses while they are stopped.  The bill allocates $5 million to purchase and install the cameras, an expense the Senate Appropriations Committee opposed.  Senate Appropriations Chairman Eli Bebout suggested that money be spent on prevention and not enforcement.  Education Chairman Hank Coe, of Cody, says prevention hasn't worked.

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Legislative
6:09 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

House Discusses EPA Pushback Proposals

A bill that would expand Wyoming's ability to fight the Environmental Protection Agency in court received initial approval in the state House of Representatives.

The bill gives the Wyoming Attorney General's Office over two million dollars to fight back against EPA policies that the state deems unacceptable.  The state is already engaged in a number of lawsuits against the agency.

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Legislative
6:07 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

House Gives Final Approval To Capitol Remodel

Credit Bob Beck

The Wyoming House gave final approval to a nearly 260 million dollar remodeling of the State Capitol Building and adjoining Herschler building.  The project will bring about infrastructure improvements to both facilities and will create larger legislative committee rooms and develop office space for all elected officials. 

Cheyenne Representative Dan Zwonitzer said the Herschler Building will become a more useful location for state government and a much nicer work space.

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Legislative
5:47 pm
Wed February 26, 2014

House Begins Debate On Additional Game And Fish Funding

The Wyoming House of Representatives gave initial approval to a bill that would provide more funding to the State Game and Fish Department.

The bill would, for the first time, allow health insurance for Game and Fish employees to be paid for by the state.  Until now, that’s been covered by the Department. It would also help cover the Department's costs for managing the state's Grizzly Bear population.  The total impact to the state budget is estimated to be around seven million dollars a year. 

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Legislative
5:56 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

State Senate Approves Legislation To Fix Hill Bill

Curt Meier debates the Supercommittee Bill

After a lengthy debate the State Senate approved a bill setting up a super committee to address a Supreme Court ruling about the duties of State Schools Superintendent Cindy Hill. The legislature passed a law last year that removed Hill’s authority to manage the State Department of Education among other things.  The court ruled that law unconstitutional. Some lawmakers want to see if either the Supreme Court or a District Court will help them fix their law.  But Senator Phil Nicholas says that lawmakers should be prepared to move forward without any additional guidance.

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Legislative
5:47 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Senate Passes Heavily Amended Loan Bill

The Wyoming Senate has voted 26 to 4 to approve a bill that will help recruit a company to Cody and establish a loan program to recruit other large businesses.  

Roughly $25 million in state loans will be used to help the Lannett Company expand a lab in Cody, but in an effort to avoid violating a constitutional provision against benefiting a single entity, the Senate broadened the bill with a series of amendments.  

This concerned Lander Republican Cale Case, who opposed the bill.

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Legislative
5:27 pm
Tue February 25, 2014

Senate Debates And Approves Grand Teton National Park Land Swap

A bill that would allow the federal government to trade mineral rights and federal land for two parcels of state land inside Grand Teton National Park has passed the Wyoming Senate. 

The swap is needed after the federal government backed out of a previous deal to pay the state for the two parcels.  Laramie Senator Phil Nicholas added an amendment that the land would have to be mineral property with proven reserves, so that the swap is worthwhile for the state. 

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Legislative
5:57 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Senate Approves Bonding Bill

With no debate the Wyoming Senate gave final approval to a bill that would raise bonding for oil and gas drillers seeking access to surface land they don't own. 

The current bond is $2,000. The bill is attempting to raise that to $10,000, partly in an effort to encourage operators to negotiate surface use agreements with landowners.

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Legislative
5:52 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Involuntary Commitment Bill Is Defeated By The Wyoming Senate

A bill that would change the way the state handles those who may need to be hospitalized due to mental illness was defeated by the Wyoming Senate. 

Right now, a Judge needs to rule on involuntary commitment within 72 hours of a person being detained. The bill allowed a medical professional to require someone to be hospitalized and receive treatment immediately.  A court hearing would later determine if someone should be held longer. 

Senator Larry Hicks told the Senate that approach violates due process.

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Legislative
5:44 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

House Discusses Capitol Renovation

The Wyoming House of Representatives began working on a bill that would fund a $269 million renovation of the State Capitol building and the adjacent Herschler Building. 

It would repair and modernize both buildings and enhance office space.  Some lawmakers questioned the need for the upgrade, but Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau says it is long overdue. Lubnau noted that the building features a number of hazards and limitations.

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Legislative
5:40 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

More Senate Work On Hill Fix

The Wyoming Senate is continuing to work on a bill that will set up a so-called super committee to attempt to fix the law that took powers away from Superintendent Cindy Hill.  The Wyoming Supreme Court ruled that in particular Hill should run the Department of Education and not an appointed Director.  

During debate on the bill Senator Curt Meier of LaGrange suggested that the Senate provide specific suggestions to the committee.

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Legislative
5:24 pm
Mon February 24, 2014

Senate Shoots Down Revised Katie's Law

The Wyoming Senate killed a bill that would have required DNA testing for those charged with a crime. Information from the DNA tests would then be stored in a database.  Senator Drew Perkins of Casper told the Senate that such action violates people's rights.

"Through technology we continue to find more, and more, and more, and more information about us that's stored.  We already have in our statutes that if you are convicted of a crime of felony, we store and maintain that DNA.  This takes it another step further."

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Legislative
7:03 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Wyoming House Added Medicaid Budget Amendment

Although the final attempt to expand Medicaid in Wyoming was defeated by the State Senate on Friday, a House budget amendment would direct the executive branch to work with the federal government to try and resolve the issue.

The Governor would ask for a waiver so that lawmakers might have another chance to vote on a specified Medicaid expansion program next year.  Because there are federal funds involved, states must get approval from the feds in order to move forward with their own plans.  Pinedale Republican Albert Sommers likes the idea.

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Legislative
6:58 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Bebout: UW Treated Well In Budget Bill

The Wyoming House and Senate approved their versions of the state budget on Friday and will now work on reaching a compromise to send to the Governor.  One of the entities that received a lot of attention was the University of Wyoming.  Senate Appropriations Chairman Eli Bebout said that UW was treated well.

“We made some cuts, that’s what we do.  But we gave some endowment money, we are moving ahead on a tier 1 Engineering College, we did the double-A, looking at the Corbett pools, we did that endowed chair for petroleum engineering.”

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Legislative
6:40 am
Mon February 24, 2014

Bill To Address Supreme Court Ruling On Hill Moves Forward

The Wyoming Senate has given initial approval to a bill allowing the legislature to work on a solution to the Supreme Court ruling that declared the removal of duties from Superintendent Cindy Hill unconstitutional.

The attorney general is appealing the ruling, but the bill would allow a group of legislators to address the constitutional issues raised by the court.  Senator Curt Meier worried that language in the bill giving the legislative committee 90 days to find a solution could draw out the process. But Senate President Tony Ross says the goal is to move quickly.

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Legislative
6:44 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Medicaid Expansion Defeated...Again

The State Senate easily defeated a proposed budget amendment that would expand Medicaid Services in the state by a vote of 21 to 9.  Laramie Democrat Chris Rothfuss says it’s a chance to bring health care to over 17 thousand people in the state.  Senate Health and Labor Chairman Charles Scott continued his opposition to Medicaid expansion by saying that it will encourage people to over utilize health care.  Rothfuss says his proposal actually would address that.

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News
6:03 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

WY House and Senate Finish Up Budget Work

The Wyoming House and Senate finished up budget work today. Leaders in both bodies say they probably spent more than they should, but they are generally satisfied.  Senate Appropriations Chairman Eli Bebout says they addressed some important needs including funding for public employee raises and the University of Wyoming.  Bebout remains concerned about the future, but he says this budget is more encouraging than past ones.

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Legislative
4:57 pm
Fri February 21, 2014

Funding For Teacher Pay Reduced

In an effort to reduce spending in the budget, the State Senate has cut in half the money available to school districts to increase public school teacher salaries. Teachers will get a pay hike in the first year of the biennium, but not the second.

Appropriations Chairman Eli Bebout said that Wyoming teachers are the highest paid in the region.  But Laramie Democrat Chris Rothfuss countered by saying Wyoming is losing purchasing power.

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Legislative
5:21 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Senate Considers Changing Involuntary Commitment Law

The State Senate has given initial approval to a change in the way Wyoming handles involuntary hospitalization of those needing mental health treatment.  The bill removes the requirement that a judge must review the involuntary commitment within 72 hours of it taking place.

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Legislative
12:00 pm
Thu February 20, 2014

Senate Debates Increasing Bonding For Oil And Gas Drilling

The Wyoming Senate began debate on a bill that would increase bonding requirements for oil and gas operators on split estate properties.

The bill would increase the bond for operators drilling on land where they don't own the surface rights from two-thousand dollars to ten thousand.  Supporters say that operators are causing surface damage in excess of ten thousand dollars. 

Senators voted down an amendment to reduce limit the bond to six thousand dollars.  Kaycee Senator John Schiffer says the higher bond helps protect landowner rights.

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Legislative
10:06 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Attempt To Increase Government Pay Raises Fails

The Wyoming House of Representatives has defeated an attempt to increase state, University, and Community College pay hikes from two percent to two and a half percent in each of the next two years. 

Supporters say government employees have not had a raise in four years and many are leaving.  But Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau finds that hard to believe.  Lubanu says he has lost a number of employees to government employers.

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Legislative
10:00 am
Thu February 20, 2014

Lawmakers Withdraw Amendment Requiring UW Deans To Meet With Legislators

The Wyoming House and Senate withdrew an amendment that stirred up segments of the University of Wyoming community Wednesday. The Amendment would have been added to the budget bill. 

It required UW deans to meet with a special legislative committee to discuss areas of mutual concern and ways to enhance the educational missions of their departments.

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Legislative
6:14 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Committee Supports Guns In Schools Bill

A bill that would allow local school boards to decide if teachers can have guns in schools has been approved by the Senate Education Committee.

Sponsor Paul Barnard of Evanston says the idea is to make schools safer.  He says teachers would undergo extensive and recurring training.  Barnard says smaller districts especially may benefit from the bill.     

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Legislative
6:13 pm
Wed February 19, 2014

Committee Takes Testimony, But No Vote on Medicaid Expansion

A number of speakers asked the Legislature's Joint Labor and Health Committee to pass a bill that would expand Medicaid services in the state. However the committee adjourned and did not return to vote on the bill. 

The measure would use federal money to provide insurance well over 17-thousand uninsured people in Wyoming. Supporters ranged from Laramie County who's concerned about raising taxes to make up for 12 million dollars in uncompensated care to those who can't afford health insurance. 

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