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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Governor Matt Mead and a handful of Wyoming legislators are excited about an idea that they hope will create more jobs in the state and finally do something locally with the minerals and other sources of energy that the state harvests.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports.

This week a new statewide public education campaign was launched called Wyoming unites for marriage.  The idea is to get support for same sex couples.  Earlier this year a lawsuit was filed to try and make same sex marriage legal in Wyoming.  Jeran Artery of the group Wyoming Equality tells Bob Beck that the lawsuit seems like the quickest way to get equality.

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill made a brief appearance at the State Department of Education in an effort to reclaim her job.  The Wyoming Supreme Court ruled earlier this year that a law that removed many of Hill’s duties is unconstitutional.  

Hill walked into the Department Monday morning with two of her staff members.   After those staff members met with Education Director Rich Crandall she left the building.

Bob Beck

The Wyoming legislative session wrapped up this week and three issues dominated.  One was the state budget.  Another was the legislature’s decision to reject federal dollars to expand Medicaid, and the final issue was the Supreme Court Decision that said that it was unconstitutional for the legislature to demote State Superintendent Cindy Hill. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck asked lawmakers about some of those issues and has this report.

Bob Beck

Outgoing Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau says he is wrapping up his legislative career.  The Gillette Republican is a fierce advocate for coal and the extractive industries. 

Speaker Lubnau also has had some strong views recently about the University of Wyoming and got national attention over his reaction to the infamous Carbon Sink sculpture that was placed near old main. He speaks with Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck

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After considerable discussion, the Wyoming legislature approved a bill that would let the state and the federal government move forward with finalizing a deal to swap state owned land in Grand Teton National Park with the federal government.  Some senators expressed concern that the federal mineral land won't match the estimated $100 million value of the state's park land, but Jackson Senator Leland Christensen says the bill was changed to ensure the trade will be fair.

Bob Beck

Members of Wyoming's Republican leadership raved about the legislative session that wrapped up Thursday, praising the state budget and lawmakers' support of business.  The GOP leaders said the budget will do a lot for the state, but they noted that they were also able to put a lot into savings.  Although the Senate Appropriations Committee was criticized for focusing too much on saving, Chairman Eli Bebout says in fact they probably spent too much. He says the energy industry could face tough times in Wyoming and it's important to be prepared.

The University of Wyoming won the national college basketball championship in 1943. Shortly after their triumph, several Cowboys started training for a bigger fight: World War II.

A new movie about the Cowboys’ epic championship game victory over St. John’s University in fabled Madison Square Garden premieres tonight, March 6, in Laramie at The Wyo Theater at 7pm.

Cindy Hill Superintendent

Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill says she intends to resume her job leading the state department of education on Monday.

Lawmakers stripped Hill of many of her duties last year and removed her as the head of the department, but the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled that the move was unconstitutional. A District Court still must certify the ruling, but Hill told reporters today she’s ready to go back to work.

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A bill that would set up a land swap with the federal government for state-owned lands inside Grand Teton National Park is still a ways from being resolved.  Senators are leery that the state may not get fair value for state trust lands inside the park. 

A conference committee is trying to resolve differences between House and Senate versions of a bill that compensates people wrongly convicted of a crime.  The House version of the bill says that someone exonerated of a crime via DNA, still has to return to court and prove their innocence in order to get compensation. 

The Senate rejected that notion.  Bill Sponsor Keith Gingery says he doesn't like the House version, but that the bill is important and he doesn't want to lose it.

A bill that establishes a new large state loan program and also benefits a Cody business has passed the legislature. 

The House made final touches to the bill that will give a $24-million state loan to Lannett Co. Inc., which is considering a nearly $100 million expansion of its Cody lab.  In final debate, some in the House questioned the state giving such loans.  Evansville Representative Kendall Kroeker says all businesses need loans.

University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming is getting a major donation for its new energy and engineering research complex.  Halliburton is giving $2 million to be applied towards a 'high bay' research facility.  

The facility's size will allow for large scale experiments.  Halliburton is also giving UW an additional $1 million for research into unconventional oil and gas reservoirs.  The gift will be matched by the state.  Governor Matt Mead says it was an exciting discussion with Halliburton.

The Wyoming House of Representatives has given final approval to a bill that would raise the bond from $2,000 to $10,000 for oil and gas drillers seeking access to privately owned land. 

The bond is used to repair damage to surface land when a use agreement can't be reached between the landowner and the energy company.  Opponents says that the increase is too high.  

Casper Republican Tom Walters said increasing the bond wages war on industry.

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The Wyoming Senate has given final approval to a bill that will allow people to drive 80 miles per hour legally on certain sections of the state’s highways.  Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau said the idea came to him from a constituent who noticed similar laws had been approved in Texas and in Utah.

“And I started looking at the statistics and found that the statistics show that the fatalities have either not increased or they decreased both in Utah or Texas," Lubnau says. "And it just allows people to go 80 miles an hour in those places where it’s safe to do that.”

Cindy Hill Superintendent

The Wyoming House of Representatives will not debate a bill that was supposed to resolve issues arising from a Supreme Court ruling concerning the duties of Superintendent Cindy Hill.

House Floor Leader Kermit Brown decided to let the bill die, saying it was premature and would take too long to debate. 

"The courts are not done with the process, the audit's not done, there are a lot of things not done.  The bill's premature and it was gonna take a lot of time we didn't have, so I just stopped where I stopped."

The legislature is scheduled to wrap up this week. 

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. "

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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.

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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