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The Wyoming Senate passed a bill Wednesday to require internet retailers like Amazon to collect sales tax on sales to Wyoming residents. 

Only three Senators opposed the bill. Lander Senator Cale Case said he thinks the smooth passage of the bill has to do with creating a more level playing field between local and online retailers.

Wyoming State Parks, Historic Sites and Trails

The tight economic times have prompted many Wyoming agencies to look at where they can raise more money and Wyoming State Parks is no different.

The legislature’s Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee is proposing to give the parks program more flexibility to set daily pass and campground fees as they see fit, rather than keeping a cap on fees as it is currently.

Jackson Representative Mike Gierau sits on the committee and says Wyoming State Park Fees are cheaper than other states. 

Mike Hepler, NOLS PR & marketing intern

Outdoor recreation is one of the top three money making industries in Wyoming, and a new organization hopes to help grow that potential even further. The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) and Flitner Strategies in Jackson have recently partnered to form the Wyoming Outdoor Business Association. 

Flitner Strategies President Sara Flitner said one thing most Wyomingites agree on is their love for Wyoming’s great outdoors.

A federal bankruptcy court judge gave Peabody Energy the go-ahead on Wednesday to pay nearly $30 million in property taxes in four states while the company makes its way through bankruptcy.

Peabody Energy can now make payments to counties in Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and Indiana. One missed payment of around $1 million hit a small Colorado school district particularly hard. The state had to dip into its emergency fund to bail out the South Routt School District after taxes were not paid in June.

The state of Wyoming was amongst the locations revealed in the data leak of the Panama Papers, that involved the large offshore law firm, Mossack Fonseca. The leak included 11.5 million confidential files and pointed to millionaires and others that may be hiding their money in Wyoming based shell companies.

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

Carbon dioxide emissions have a pretty bad reputation these days. The Paris Climate Conferencebrought together delegations from all over the world in an effort to cut carbon emissions and avoid catastrophic global warming. But right now, the dirtiest fuel - coal - still supplies nearly 40% of the electricity in the U.S. and in even more in many developing countries.

Bob Beck

 

When you drive north into Torrington on highway 85 you see an iconic place. Since 1926 the Sugar beet factory, currently owned by Western Sugar Cooperative has been a mainstay of the local economy. Now is the busy season for the plant and you can hear it hum. Torrington is a small agriculture town of 7,000 people and according to Gilbert Servantez,  who is the manager of the Torrington Workforce Services Center, the sugar factory has been a major employer. 

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

With oil hovering around $45 a barrel these days, oil workers can go from making a six-figure salary, including overtime, to being unemployed and broke. When business is good, a $60,000 dollar truck, for example, might be a reasonable purchase and maybe even a business expense. But the oil industry isn’t like most businesses. Work can go away overnight.

Miles Bryan

Let’s start in 2011, when Wyoming was rocked by an investigation from the national news agency Reuters entitled, A Little House on the Secrets on the Great Plains.

“When you think of traditional secrecy and tax havens you most likely think of Switzerland, and the Caribbean,” begins the Reuters reporter in the accompanying video. She’s standing under the “Welcome to Wyoming” sign on I-80 outside of Cheyenne.

Northeast Wyoming is gearing up for an influx of people next week during the 75th anniversary of the Sturgis Motorcycle rally.

The event draws motorcycle enthusiasts from around the country. Hulett town clerk Melissa Bears says it means big business for towns in northeast Wyoming.

“For many of our businesses, what they make this week is what they will try and live on for the entire winter,” she says. “That’s what keeps them open so they can sustain their business for another year.”

Leigh Paterson / Inside Energy

Over the last few years, Wyoming's African American population has grown faster than in any other state. According to census data, between 2010 and 2013, the number of black residents doubled. In some counties, especially those with a lot of energy development or tourism, that increase was more like 300, 500 or even 800 percent. Other rural Western states, all with unemployment rates well below the national average, are experiencing a similar trend.

Wikimedia Commons

In recent years there’s been plenty of discussion and a lot of worry in Wyoming about the future of coal. Politicians have blamed the federal government for the coal industry's struggles and pushed for coal export terminals to save it. But until now, there’s been very little data to back up the talk. This week, economists at the University of Wyoming previewed a study looking at coal’s role in the state economy as well as its prospects for the future. Rob Godby is the Director of the Center for Energy Economics and Public Policy and lead author of the report.

Rebecca Martinez

Oil prices have been in freefall in recent months, dropping by more than half since June. For energy states like Wyoming, that’s bad news. As Governor Matt Mead pointed out recently, the state has a lot of money riding on oil.

This is not the first time Wyoming has weathered a downturn. In fact, for those who can remember all the way back to 2009 and crashing natural gas prices, today’s news may seem like deja vu. Booms and busts are part of the state’s economy. But do they have to be?

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, and across the state, shelters are reporting that victims are staying for longer periods of time than in the past. Wyoming Public Radio’s Willow Belden reports that the reason has a lot to do with the economy.

WILLOW BELDEN: Jamie Barton was 19 when she met the man who would become her abuser. After her first son was born, the violence started.