Legislative

Superintendent
4:45 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

House votes to remove duties from State Superintendent

Members of the gallery watch the superintendent debate.
Credit Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

After two weeks of discussion, the Wyoming Legislature has voted to remove some duties from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.  The legislation awaits the signature of Governor Matt Mead. 

The bill would hand over administration of the State Department of Education to a Governor appointed Director of Education. 

Opponents of the bill once again complained that they were going against voters who supported the election of Superintendent Cindy Hill by a two-to-one margin. 

Rock Springs Republican Stephen Watt again asked the House to slow down.

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Medicaid
5:24 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Medicaid overhaul bill passes the Senate

Wyoming Sen. Charles Scott

The State Senate has approved a bill that changes the way Medicaid services are administered in Wyoming. 

Senate Health and Labor Committee Chairman Charles Scott says it would make a number of changes, especially for those with brain injuries and developmental disabilities, where large numbers of people are on a waiting list to get services. 

Scott says they will address the program by making sure that everyone does not qualify for more insurance than they need.

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Superintendent
3:48 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

House battle over State Superintendent position rages on

The Wyoming House of Representatives defeated a pair of amendments during the second day of debate on a bill that would remove some duties from the State Superintendent and give them to a governor-appointed Director of Education.  

Jackson Republican Keith Gingery asked for $20,000 to be set aside to allow State Superintendent Cindy Hill to fight her loss of power in court.  During that discussion Gingery expressed disappointment about the tone of the debate on the issue.

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Medicaid
5:33 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Health organizations support Medicaid expansion

A number of Wyoming health care organizations held a news conference in Cheyenne urging state lawmakers to pass a bill that would expand Medicaid services to more state residents.

Wyoming Hospital Association Director Dan Perdue says the bill will improve health care for more citizens.  He says it will also save the state money.

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Medicaid
5:05 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Wyoming Senate takes on Medicaid overhaul

The State Senate has begun overhauling the Wyoming Medicaid program. 

The bill attempts to slow down rising costs of the program through a variety of reforms that would both cap payments and try to put less critical clients into lower cost programs. 

Senate Labor and Health Committee Chairman Charles Scott says savings could range between $30 million and $113 million, depending on which reforms the federal government allows the state to go forward with.

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Education
5:01 pm
Tue January 22, 2013

Wyoming Senate kills two education bills, approves energy curriculum

Credit Creative Commons / www.wildretina.com

The Wyoming Senate defeated two education bills and passed one during final debate on all three measures. 

The Senate defeated one bill that would require parental permission for someone under the age of 18 to drop out of school.  The Senate also killed a bill that would have required students to take four years of math in order to graduate.  Both bills were sponsored by Democrat Chris Rothfuss of Laramie. 

The Senate did approve a bill that puts in place a new energy and natural resources curriculum for schools. 

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Medicaid
5:29 pm
Mon January 21, 2013

Senate debates legislation that would allow prosecution in Medicaid fraud cases

Wyoming Senate discusses Medicaid fraud.
Credit Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming is one of eight states that does not have the ability to pursue false claims in Medicaid cases.  A bill being debated in the state Senate would change that. 

Senator Ray Peterson says conservative estimates suggest that Wyoming is likely losing 15 million dollars a year to overbilling in Medicaid cases.  His bill would allow the state to investigate and prosecute Medicaid fraud.

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Health Care
4:08 pm
Mon January 21, 2013

Wyoming House votes to open health insurance market to out-of-state companies

The Wyoming House of Representatives has passed a bill that would open up Wyoming’s health insurance market to out-of-state companies. 

The goal of the legislation is to provide more insurance options to consumers.  But Evansville Republican Kendall Kroeker says the bill would do anything but.

“So all it does is protect the couple of insurance companies that are here and limits competition by not allowing anybody to offer anything different than is being offered,” Kroeker says.

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Gas tax
3:32 pm
Fri January 18, 2013

WY House votes to raise the gas tax

The Wyoming House of Representatives has voted to increase the state gas tax by ten cents per gallon. 

Supporters say the money is needed to pay the costs of road maintenance, but opponents say citizens cannot afford the tax. 

Rock Springs Republican Stephen Watt urged the use of state reserve funds to pay for roads instead.

“At some point in time we need to say that today is rainy and we need to spend some of our rainy day money,” Watt says. “Let’s not add more of a burden on our constituents with this tax.”

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Judicial
7:10 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Legislature might raise retirement age for judges and justices

The Wyoming House has given final approval to a proposed constitutional amendment that would remove the mandatory retirement age for Supreme Court Justices and District Court Judges. 

The current age is 70; the new legislation would raise the retirement age to 75.

Cheyenne Republican Dan Zwonitzer is sponsoring the bill and he says the state has lost some good judges this way.

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health care
7:02 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Wyoming House considers allowing out-of-state health insurance companies to market within the state

Rep. Eric Barlow

In an effort to find ways to offer health insurance to citizens, the Wyoming House of Representatives is considering a bill that would allow insurance companies from outside of the state to offer policies to Wyoming residents. 

The House gave initial approval to the bill that will also allow in-state companies to match the price offered by the out of state insurance company.  Supporters see this as a way to provide consumers a more competitive marketplace for health insurance.  Some feared the measure could hurt Wyoming’s health insurance providers. 

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Education
6:44 pm
Thu January 17, 2013

Senate debates raising dropout age

In an effort to improve Wyoming Graduation rates, Senator Chris Rothfuss is pushing a bill that would require students to stay in school until graduation or age 18. 

If they need to drop out of school between the ages of 16 and 18, they will require written parental permission.  Currently Wyoming students can drop out of school after the age of 16. 

Rothfuss says they are trying to raise the education bar. 

Fellow Senator Bill Landen had opposed the bill, but he says he’s changed his mind.

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Medicaid
6:48 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Senate committee approves Medicaid reform bill

After several days of discussion, the Senate Health and Labor Committee has approved a bill that is intended to reform Medicaid in Wyoming. 

Medicaid is an expensive program for the state to run and lawmakers have been looking at how to reduce costs, but not take away services.  One significant change would be how the state handles those with developmental disabilities and brain injuries. 

The state spends 120 million dollars a year on those services. 

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gas tax
6:45 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

State House supports gas tax increase

The Wyoming House of Representatives has given initial approval to a bill raising Wyoming’s fuel tax by ten cents, from 14 cents a gallon to 24 cents. 

House Revenue Committee Chairman Mike Madden says the state has spent millions from Wyoming's General fund to pay for roads, and he says they need more revenue to pay for maintenance and construction.  

Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau says the increase is justified.

“What this tax is is a user fee,” Lubnau says.  It’s a self-supported user fee that supports our highways.” 

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Education
5:48 pm
Wed January 16, 2013

Wyoming Senate passes bill to take power from state superintendent

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill

The Wyoming Senate has given final approval to a bill that takes power away from the state superintendent and creates an appointed director to run the Department of Education. 

The Senate voted 20-10 to approve the measure.  Senator Hank Coe blames the move on failures by the State Superintendent Cindy Hill to follow through on legislative mandates, a charge Hill denies.  Coe says Hill has lacked management skills.  He says that’s led to a 40-percent turnover.

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Legislative
7:25 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Bill to remove Superintendent powers gets initial approval from the State Senate

A bill that would remove powers from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and transfer them to an appointed Director has received initial approval from the State Senate. 

The Senate approved the bill 19-10 after a lengthy debate including comments from some Senators who were concerned that the bill could actually hurt education instead of improve it. 

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Legislative
7:15 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

House will debate bill raising the gas tax

A bill that would raise the gas tax by ten cents has passed the House Revenue Committee. Revenue from the increased taxes would fund highway construction and maintenance throughout the state, a sector that’s currently underfunded.

Chairman of the House Revenue Committee, Michael Madden, says the measure is supported by many groups.

"About every engine that makes our economy run, we had strong support for this bill. And the overall gist of the thing was that Wyoming runs on roads and it’s too important of an asset to watch deteriorate. "

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Legislative
7:11 pm
Mon January 14, 2013

Senate approves Oil and Gas Supervisor changes

A bill that changes the qualifications for the position of Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission Supervisor has unanimously passed the State Senate.

The bill changes the requirements for the Supervisor from a registered professional petroleum engineer or geologist, to an engineer or geologist with ten years of experience in his respective field of expertise.

Energy and Legislative advocate with the Wyoming Outdoor Council, Richard Garrett, says it may be valuable to consider applicants’ assets fully.

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Superintendent
11:16 am
Fri January 11, 2013

Senate Ed. Committee passes bill to create governor-appointed position for Dept. of Education

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill

The Senate Education Committee quickly passed a bill that would create a governor-appointed director position for the education department, and reduce the powers of the current state superintendent. 

Committee Chairman Senator Hank Coe says tension between the Legislature, Superintendent, the Department of Education, and the State Board has been going on since 1985 and it was time to fix it.  

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Legislative
6:14 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

Medicaid expansion debate gets a warmup


Two Leaders of the Wyoming House of Representatives expressed different views of expanding Medicaid during the opening day of the legislative session. 


Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau said during his opening remarks to the House that he is not a fan of the Affordable Care Act and wants the state to wait before it considers expanding Medicaid for more citizens in Wyoming.  Lubnau doubts that the federal government can afford the program.

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Legislative
6:06 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

Speaker of the House supports gas tax increase



Wyoming Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau says it is time that the state raise the gas tax.  Lawmakers will consider legislation this session that will increase the gas tax by ten cents a gallon. 


During his opening remarks to the House of Representatives, Lubnau says the time has come to pay for Wyoming’s roads.

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Legislative
5:53 pm
Tue January 8, 2013

Senator Ross urges cooperation


The Wyoming Senate President is urging cooperation after what he calls an ugly campaign season. 


Tony Ross of Cheyenne urged the Senate to work together and not let the public get cynical.  Ross says that’s important because this will be a difficult session with lots of important issues to address.


“Supplemental budget cuts, our response to the affordable care act, expansion of Medicaid, education accountability and a fuel tax just to name a few.  Many people are looking to the Senate to be THE body of reason and measure.”

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Legislative
5:28 pm
Wed December 26, 2012

Lawmakers get ready to debate loss of federal money vs. Medicaid expansion

In early 2013 the state legislature will discuss cutting the state budget.  While some say only minimal cuts are needed, others are not so sure.  State Senator Tony Ross says the so-called fiscal cliff could add to the loss of federal money the state is already dealing with, starting with the loss of abandoned mine land money last fall.

“As a result of the loss of AML funds or there is even talks that there may be a push to cut back on federal mineral royalties.  If they do something like that it effects us here in a very big way.” 

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Legislative
6:24 pm
Tue December 11, 2012

UW President discusses cuts and pay request

The President of the University of Wyoming says while the six percent budget cuts are better than the eight percent the Governor had previously proposed…he says they will still cause pain.  

President Tom Buchanan told the legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee that the cuts could cost U-W 60 to 95 employees and added that some may have to be layoffs.  Buchanan also made the case for increasing U-W’s faculty and staff salaries by three percent.             

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Legislative Headlines
5:02 pm
Tue December 4, 2012

Superintendent Hill will respond to negative report before a legislative committee

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill says she is looking forward to addressing a legislative committee next week following a report that was critical of her department.

The Legislative Service Office report said that errors and communication problems led to delays in the Department of Education’s ability to provide necessary federal information and required state accountability data.  Hill says the report is inaccurate. 

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Legislative Headlines
4:26 pm
Mon November 19, 2012

Republican Legislative Leadership Chosen

Republicans in the State Senate have elected Cheyenne’s Tony Ross to serve as Senate President and Laramie’s Phil Nicholas to serve as majority floor leader.   

The House previously announced its makeup, choosing Tom Lubnau to be speaker and Kermit Brown to be majority floor leader.  Steve Harshman  of Casper will become the new chair of the House Appropriations Committee.  The Senate also added some new committee chairman, the most notable being Riverton’s Eli Bebout who was chosen to serve as its Appropriations Committee Chairman.  

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Legislative Headlines
8:06 am
Thu November 15, 2012

Report Is Critical Of Wyoming Department Of Education

A report by consultants hired by the Legislature gives the Wyoming Department of Education poor marks in implementing state education reforms.
 
The report says the agency has failed in some of its responsibilities and hindered other entities involved in the state's initiative to better prepare its public school students for college and careers.
 
 The report blames much of the agency's failings on loss of too many key personnel in the last two years.
 

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Politics
12:04 am
Fri November 2, 2012

Climate change not a concern, most House candidates say

At last night’s congressional debate, four out of five candidates for Wyoming’s U.S. House seat said climate change is not a concern.

The three third-party candidates all said they don’t believe that human activities contribute to global warming. Constitution party candidate Daniel Cummings said he thinks the earth is warming because of a natural sun cycle.

“So those who want to put a cap on global warming have got to find a way to turn down the sun,” Cummings said.

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Politics
11:57 pm
Thu November 1, 2012

Henrichsen attacks Lummis for losing AML funds

During tonight’s Congressional debate, Democrat Chris Henrichsen attacked Republican Rep. Cynthia Lummis for losing hundreds of millions of dollars of Abandoned Mine Lands money that were destined for Wyoming.

Coal-producing states receive AML funds in order to pay for mine reclamation, but Wyoming used a portion of the money for buildings, infrastructure and other projects. This fall, Congress voted to severely limit the amount the Cowboy State gets.

Henrichsen says Lummis failed in her duties because she failed to stop the measure.

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Politics
6:12 am
Tue October 23, 2012

3 Finalists For State Treasurer Have Been Selected

Wyoming's Republican Party Central Committee has chosen three finalists to become state treasurer.

They include Bruce Brown, an accountant; Mark Gordon, a former board member with the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City; and Clark Stith, a Fulbright scholar.

Gov. Matt Mead is to meet with the three on Wednesday and choose one later this week to replace the late Joe Meyer.

55 Republican State Committee members attended Monday's voting and that another 17 were represented by proxy.

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