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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Lottery
6:32 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Conference committee compromises on lottery bill

After rejecting the Senate version of the bill that would allow Wyoming to join a multi-state lottery, a conference committee has reached a compromise that supporters hope will get the bill to the governor. 

The House wants all revenue from the lottery to go to local government, but the Senate wants the money to go into a permanent account that’s used for schools. 

The compromise says that 6-million dollars goes to local government, while any money above that amount would go into the schools account. 

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Medicaid
6:27 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

House finishes Medicaid reform bill

The Wyoming House of Representatives has finished its version of a massive Medicaid reform bill. 

The bill will create two tiers in the current Development Disability waiver program.  That means that people who need fewer services will not be allocated more funding then they need. 

House Labor and Health Committee Chairwoman Elaine Harvey says that change will allow more people to benefit from the program.   She says they also have made reforms to long-term care that should better help Wyoming residents. 

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Eminent Domain
6:18 pm
Mon February 25, 2013

Wyoming House supports changes to eminent domain requirements

Rep. Bob Nicholas

The Wyoming House continues to support a bill that would strengthen the state’s eminent domain laws. 

It would require that all legal requirements for condemning land must be met before a case can be taken to a court.  If a company fails, or if a landowner is not given fair market value for his property, the landowner would be able to sue. 

Groups supporting the bill say it will limit abuses in eminent domain discussions. 

Casper Representative Tim Stubson failed in his attempts to amend the bill, saying that it’s leaning too heavily in favor of landowners. 

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News
6:21 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Senator Nicholas rips tactics of pro-gun lobbyists

After receiving threats and attacks concerning Senators’ patriotism and support of gun rights, Senate Majority Floor Leader Phil Nicholas decided that the Senate would not debate a pair of gun rights bills.  One bill would allow local law enforcement to arrest federal officials enforcing federal gun laws in the state and the other gave the state power to keep local officials from developing their own gun regulations.  Nicholas says the bills were poorly drafted and gave one example:

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News
6:16 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Medicaid expansion fails in the House

Credit Wyoming Legislature

During debate on a Medicaid reform bill, the Wyoming House of Representatives rejected an amendment that would have expanded Medicaid for over 17,000 uninsured state residents.  Supporters noted that the state has looked for ways to reduce health care costs and they say the expansion would accomplish that.  House Labor and Health Committee Chairwoman Elaine Harvey says the issue requires more study.  The federal will pay 100 percent of the first three years of the expansion.  Harvey says Wyoming can join at a later date.

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News
6:10 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Senate amends and passes lottery bill

The State Senate has approved a bill that allows Wyoming to enter into a multi-state lottery.  Senators amended to move money that would be generated from the lottery from cities and counties to a fund that benefits schools.  Opponents of the lottery say it will hurt the poor.  But Senator Hank Coe says there is a lot of support for the measure.

“The citizens of this state want this bill.  I saw a poll in the last 12 months, 62 or 63% of the people in that poll support this lottery,” says Coe.

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Open Spaces
5:05 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Legislature works to improve education

The Wyoming legislature grabbed headlines early in the session by stripping powers from State Superintendent Cindy Hill.  Now they they’re focused on ways to improve education.   Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck has more….

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Open Spaces
4:34 pm
Fri February 22, 2013

Governor reviews the legislative session

As the Wyoming legislative session winds down, Governor Matt Mead joins us to give his thoughts on the session. We start with the budget, where the governor vetoed three items.  One area of concern is the lack of funding lawmakers gave the governor for forest fires and another is the legislature’s insistence that agencies propose more budget cuts.  Governor Mead tells Bob Beck that can wait…

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News
6:45 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

House begins debate on Medicaid overhaul

A massive bill that attempts to reform Wyoming’s current Medicaid program was given initial approval in the State House of Representatives.  One of the goals of the bill is to establish caps on how much is spent in the developmental disability program.  What lawmakers want to do is limit spending to what’s really necessary for clients in the program.  Evansville Republican Kendall Kroeker says his son receives services from the program and only requires a minimal amount of money, so he supports the new limits.

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News
6:34 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Tips bill is dead for the 2013 Legislative session

A bill that would legalize the practice of tip sharing has failed after a conference committee of House and Senate members could not reach agreement on the bill.  Sponsor Ruth Ann Petroff of Jackson says lawmakers also heard a lot of negative feedback on the bill, so conference committee members agreed to drop it for the year.

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News
6:25 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Senate passes another education accountability bill

The Wyoming Senate has given final approval to a bill that would focus accountability in education on individual schools in the state.  The statewide education accountability phase one bill would establish benchmarks for schools. If schools don’t meet those benchmarks, they will have to develop a school improvement plan.  Senator Chris Rothfuss says that lawmakers hope to measure student performance in coming months.

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News
6:16 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

Governor vetoes portions of the budget bill

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has line item vetoed three areas of the state supplemental budget.  The governor vetoed a section that involved the management of surplus state money and he vetoed a section that required state agencies to consider more budget cuts.  Mead says it doesn’t make sense for agencies to re-do that exercise, especially since it’s possible that the state may get more revenue.

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News
6:13 pm
Thu February 21, 2013

WY one step closer to getting a lottery

The Wyoming Senate is close to approving a bill that would allow the state to enter into a multi-state lottery.  The Senate spent the second day of debate on the bill clarifying language to make sure that the lottery is run properly and that the state is protected.  The Senate has not spent as much time on the moral issues that were the focus in the House.  Senator Michael Von Flatern of Gillette says the Senate noted that those concerns were already aired in the House.

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Lottery bill
6:16 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Senate begins debate on lottery bill

The Wyoming Senate gave initial support to a bill that would allow the state to become part of a multi-state lottery, but not before hearing a lot of questions.  

Much of the debate centered on how the lottery would be administered and costs surrounding it.  Senator Bruce Burns says money raised would go to city and county governments.
 

“They estimate that it will bring in roughly about 25 million and that it should clear based on other states close to our size about a little over six million dollars a year net,” Burns says.

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Education accountability
6:15 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Senate continues work on education accountability bill

The State Senate continues working on a bill that would require schools to be accountable for student performance.  Under the bill, each school in the state would need to meet a pre-determined performance rating. 

Senator Charles Scott successfully amended the bill to say that a principal could be fired if his or her school falls short of that rating two years in a row.

“All these accountability structures are very fine, but when the day’s over you gotta do something if the performance is not adequate,” Scott says.

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Guns
5:27 pm
Wed February 20, 2013

Senate Committee amends gun bills

The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a pair of gun rights bills with some key changes. 

The Committee reworked a bill that had been intended to threaten federal law enforcement officials with arrest if they tried to enforce federal gun bans in Wyoming.  The committee amended the bill to say that federal officials could carry out their duties, but that local law enforcement could not assist.  Still, the Wyoming Attorney General was given authority to protect citizen gun rights. 

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Sequester
6:23 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Sen. Enzi warns that The Sequester is coming

Sen. Mike Enzi of Wyoming

Senator Mike Enzi continues to say that the budget sequester will take effect on March first. 

The Republican told the state Legislature that the sequestration will roll back the federal budget to 2008 levels and will feature an eight-percent cut. 

Enzi says instead of across the board cuts, he says Congress should have taken a page from the Wyoming Legislature and had federal agencies participate in the exercise.

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School accountability
6:16 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Senate debates school accountability

"Empty Desks"
Credit Max Klingensmith / Creative Commons

The Wyoming Senate has given initial approval to a bill that would rate schools on student performance. 

The school accountability measure was amended by the Senate to say all schools that do not exceed pre-determined academic targets would have to develop improvement plans. 

The House version of the bill said meeting targets was sufficient.  

Senator Chris Rothfuss of Laramie says the Senate is shooting for a higher bar. 

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Open Spaces
5:45 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

February 15th, 2013

Increased coal exports overseas bring up questions of royalty payments
Coal producers in the U.S. are looking to markets abroad to make up for decreasing demand at home. But a recent investigation by Thomson Reuters news service suggests there might be royalty underpayments on those shipments. Wyoming Public Radio’s Irina Zhorov reports that royalty question is still unresolved.

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Open Spaces
5:12 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Author and Wyoming native Muffy Mead-Ferro discusses her memoir "Its Head Came Off By Accident"

Credit Courtesy of the Carol Mann Agency

The Hansen-Mead family has been an important part of Wyoming history.  Not only are they well known ranchers in Teton County, but they are have yielded 2 governors and even a writer.  Muffy Mead Ferro has written a memoir of growing up in that family called Its Head Came Off by Accident.  Much of the book focuses on her view of ranch life and of her mother Mary Mead...

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News
5:10 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Senate looks at retooling campaign finance law

The State Senate has given initial approval to a bill that would remove the ability for Political Action Committees to give unlimited donations to candidates running for office.  The bill limits the spending of a PAC to $5,000 in statewide races and $2,500 in local races.  Individuals would be allowed to spend up to $2,500 dollars on a campaign. Supporters of the bill have complained that political action committees are used as a way to get a significant amount of money into a campaign.  Casper Senator Bill Landen says right now people contribute through PACS because it allows them to contr

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News
5:03 pm
Fri February 15, 2013

Legislature sends budget bill to the Governor

The Wyoming House and Senate have reached a budget agreement on a $78 million supplemental budget and will send it to the Governor for his consideration.  While there was no discussion in the Senate, several representatives in the House were concerned that instead of cutting government…the legislature is spending more.  But House Appropriations Chairman Steve Harshman says most of the money is one-time spending.

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Gas tax
4:54 pm
Thu February 14, 2013

Wyoming Senate passes fuel tax hike

The State Senate has passed a $.10-per-gallon increase in the state gas tax. 

It would raise the tax from $.14-a-gallon to $.24.  It’s expected to generate about $47 million for highways and several million dollars for local government. 

Senate Transportation Chairman Michael Von Flatern says the money is desperately needed by the Wyoming Department of Transportation, but even with the increase, WYDOT is looking at a shortfall.

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News
6:17 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Senate bill would try to keep Life Resource Center open

The State Senate has approved a bill that will study ways to keep the Life Resource Center in Lander open.  The facility serves those with extreme disabilities. The House version of the bill looked at ways of phasing residents out of the facility with the option of closing it down.  Senator Cale Case of Lander says the Senate wants to take a different approach.

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News
6:11 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Bill to allow silencers while hunting gets final approval

The Wyoming House has passed a bill that will allow hunters to use silencers and suppressors for various types of hunting in the state. Before passing the bill, the House removed an amendment that would not have allowed silencers when hunting for big game.  But Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau argued that there are plenty of protections if someone violates the law and if they misuse a silencer or a suppressor the hunter can be punished.

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News
6:02 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

Bill that allows tip redistribution passes the Senate

The Wyoming Senate has given approval to a bill that will allow restaurants to set up a system where servers will turn in tips, so that they can be redistributed to other service workers at the establishment.  Senator Ogden Driskill of Devils Tower says it will allow all service employees to make a greater wage.  Driskill says such pooling already takes place in Wyoming, but it isn’t legal.  He says workers and employers want it legalized.

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silencers
4:56 pm
Wed February 13, 2013

House passes bill allowing hunters to use silencers

Sen. Tom Lubnau

The Wyoming House has passed a bill that will allow hunters to use silencers and suppressors for various types of hunting in the state.  

Before passing the bill, the House removed an amendment that would not have allowed silencers when hunting for big game. 

But Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau argued that there are plenty of protections if someone violates the law, and if they misuse a silencer or a suppressor, the hunter can be punished.

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Permanent Mineral Trust Fund
5:42 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

Bebout supports increasing the Permanent Mineral Trust Fund

Sen. Eli Bebout of Riverton

As the Legislature irons out the final details of the State budget, the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee says lawmakers were forward-thinking with the budget. 

During a news conference, Senator Eli Bebout of Riverton said the spending reductions and cuts to some agencies were needed to get the budget in shape for future spending. 

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Lottery
5:18 pm
Tue February 12, 2013

Lottery bill heads to Senate Floor

The Wyoming Senate will have an opportunity to debate implementing a lottery in Wyoming. 

A committee approved the bill 3-2.  It will allow the state to enter a multi-state lottery, such as Powerball. 

Supporters say a number of Wyoming residents are spending money on lottery tickets in other states, and they want to keep that money here. 

But opponents like Chesie Lee of the Wyoming Association of Churches say lotteries hurt the poor “who are more likely to buy lottery tickets then people in other income brackets,” Lee says. 

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