politics

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

West Virginia wants to use federal dollars to subsidize Appalachian coal. Some think that’s picking favorites — not just over natural gas and renewables, but over other coal states. 

(NPS Photo/ Tim Rains)

The Endangered Species Act has been the law of the land for more than 40 years. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service website, the act was intended to highlight the “esthetic, ecological, educational, recreational, and scientific value to our Nation and its people.” But Wyoming Senator John Barrasso says it needs updating.

“The Endangered Species Act was written, created and adopted for all the right reasons and there’s just too much sand in the gears right now.”

Barrasso says the Act creates too many hoops and hurdles.

Bob Beck

As the Senate health insurance reform effort remains on life support, Wyoming’s two senators are pushing their Republican colleagues to get on board with the effort.

Senator John Barrasso literally burned the midnight oil on Wednesday when he invited a large group of Republican senators into his office for last minute negotiations on their party’s health insurance reform plan. Barrasso emerged late and was the last to address the thirty or so reporters who huddled outside for hours.  

Don Gonyea

  

As we all know, the Donald Trump administration has been unique. One of those tasked with following the President is NPR Political Correspondent Don Gonyea.

After beginning his career based in Detroit, Gonyea came to Washington to cover the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations. Gonyea came to Jackson this week to talk about covering this administration. He told Bob Beck that President Trump’s behavior is not all that surprising. 

Mexican Consulate

Immigration and Customs Enforcement arrests and deportations have increased in Wyoming and Colorado this year, which has kept Berenice Rendón busy.

Consul General Rendón started her position in April, leading the Mexican Consulate’s offices in Denver. They work to support Mexican citizens living in Colorado, eastern

Wyoming and eastern Montana. Rendón recently made her first trip to Wyoming to visit with Mexican community leaders, local law enforcement and political leaders in Cheyenne.

Stephanie Joyce

Newly minted Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke just took a massive step towards streamlining the permitting process for oil and gas drilling on federal lands. Wyoming lawmakers love the move, but Democrats fear it’s a dangerous first step down a slippery slope.   

Public Domain

President Trump desperately wants a major legislative victory, which is why he held a Rose Garden ceremony with House Republicans after only their chamber passed an overhaul of Obamacare – a bill he later told Republican senators was “mean.”

But Trump and his agenda remain bogged down by the Russian investigation and he keeps distracting Congress with tweets that Republican leaders have tried to get him to stop sending out. Wyoming Congresswoman Liz Cheney says Trump needs to rise above.

Dhtrible at the English language Wikipedia

Jackson town officials have been deluged with angry emails and phone calls after the mayor decided to remove portraits of President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence from town hall last week. The flap has garnered national media attention and gone viral on social media. Town Councilman and Vice Mayor Jim Stanford says he’s sorry for the fallout, which includes visitors saying they will cancel trips to Jackson.

U.S. Department of State

President Trump has decided to leave the 2015 Paris climate agreement and many advocates in the coal industry say the move will be beneficial for Wyoming.

Coal production has been in decline for close to a decade and Wyoming’s congressional delegation says that leaving the climate agreement could help turn that around. Economists, though, often blame natural gas and renewable energy as reasons for coal's decline - not regulation.

Governor Matt Mead said Wyoming will need more than this for the coal industry to rebound. 

Volunteers carrying toads down to Mortenson Lake
Cooper McKim / Wyoming Public Radio

The Endangered Species Act is threatened. Or at least facing significant reform. Momentum in Congress and in western states is building to make changes to the landmark regulation that protects threatened animal and plant species and their habitats. 

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement

In President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office, arrests and deportations more than doubled in Wyoming and Colorado. That’s compared to the same time in 2016. 

That figure includes both undocumented immigrants with and without criminal records. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, does not provide data by state, but by “area of responsibility,” so it is unknown how many of those individuals were in Wyoming at the time.

City of Gillette website

Gillette’s city administrator will soon take over the position as city manager in Casper. Carter Napier will replace V.H. McDonald, who announced his retirement in April amidst controversy surrounding his office and the police department. The appointment is subject to city council approval. 

Senator Mike Enzi (R)

  

President Trump unveiled his budget this week and it’s being met with mixed reactions from Wyoming lawmakers.

The president is proposing massive cuts to safety net programs like Medicaid and Meals on Wheels in order to pay for a defense buildup. He also wants to slash the Environmental Protection Agency’s budget by thirty percent, while also cutting the Interior Department’s budget by eleven percent, which critics say would cripple National Park funding.

 

Flickr Creative Commons

The Wyoming Secretary of State’s office recently certified a proposed ballot initiative to limit the influence of money on politics. But getting an initiative on the Wyoming ballot isn’t easy. 

The proposed initiative, sponsored by Wyoming Promise, would regulate political contributions and spending. But before it can get on the ballot, it requires 15 percent of registered Wyoming voters in two-thirds of the state’s counties to sign a petition. Lander Senator Cale Case said that kind of robust requirement in signatures can make things difficult, but not impossible.

Bob Beck

Earlier this month, those involved with arts organizations in the state were able to exhale after a proposal to zero out funding for the National Endowment for the Arts, Humanities, and similar organizations this year was averted. The proposal was part of President Trump’s budget.

At the University of Wyoming Art Museum, Susan Moldenhauer sits at a desk of neatly stacked brochures and contracts as she prepares for another year of exhibits. She is the Director and Chief Curator at the facility. 

Wyoming Humanities Facebook

  

President Trump's first budget proposal called for totally zeroing out federal funding for the arts and humanities, which could disproportionately hurt rural states like Wyoming.   

Last year some of that money went to a mobile museum that toured the state teaching students and adults alike about the state's heritage. Wyoming Senator John Barrasso admits that he doesn't like that the president is calling to end the program. 

Brian Harrington

In response to Wyoming Senator Mike Enzi’s comments earlier this week, many Wyomingites are planning to wear tutus to school, work, while running errands and to the bar Friday.  

While visiting middle and high school students in Greybull, Enzi was asked by a student about federal protections for LGBT people and what he has done to support Wyomingites.

Enzi replied with Wyoming’s live and let live mantra, but also said a man wearing a tutu to a bar shouldn’t be surprised when he gets into a fight because he’s asking for it.

Senator Mike Enzi (R)

Wyoming senator Mike Enzi is receiving heat from critics for a comment he made at Greybull High School. While speaking to middle and high school students there, Enzi was asked about federal protections of LGBT people and what he has done to support Wyoming’s LGBT community. 

After a year of turmoil, the Wyoming Democratic Party has elected a new chairman. Former State Representative Joe Barbuto will replace Ana Cupril.  

During the 2016 Presidential election, the party became divided after Hillary Clinton was awarded the state primary despite Bernie Sanders winning the popular vote during last year’s party caucuses. 

Barbuto says the party needs to move forward and many newcomers give him hope.

Craig Blumenshine

  

It’s been a little over a month since the Wyoming legislative session ended and today Governor Matt Mead joins us to reflect on the session among other things. Many left the legislative session with bad feelings, but Mead tells Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck he was pleased with what lawmakers did for economic development. Among other things, the legislature supported his ENDOW plan for diversifying the economy. 

meddata.com

Despite some recent setbacks, Congress will eventually move to either replace or make serious changes to the affordable care act. Wyoming’s congressional delegation says that should help reduce insurance premiums in the state, but that may not be the case. Wyoming saw a growth in those who have insurance under the affordable care act and current congressional fixes could do more harm than good. 

Jeff Walker and Sara Flitner

During a campaign stop last year in Jackson, then-mayor Sara Flitner took a question from the audience. It was a challenging one from retired physician and consultant Jeff Walker, a staunch Republican. It was obvious from the get-go that the two didn't agree on much—especially on the election of Donald Trump—but they decided to keep talking anyway. As part of her series “I Respectfully Disagree,” Wyoming Public Radio’s Melodie Edwards chatted with Flitner and Walker about some of the hard conversations they've been working through.

Willow Belden

Wyoming lawmakers are pushing to repeal an Obama-era rule that would limit methane emissions on federal lands, but they're hitting a snag and this time it's coming from their fellow Republicans.

Earlier this month, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead signed a bill that requires doctors to offer ultrasounds to patients seeking abortions, but that law may only apply to one provider in the state.

Dr. Brent Blue of Jackson said he is Wyoming’s only doctor who publicly admits to providing abortions. But he has heard of other doctors in the region who have provided their regular patients with abortions that used medications to end a pregnancy, instead of surgical procedures.

Wyoming Women Rise

At just 11 percent, Wyoming currently has the lowest percentage of female legislators of any state in the country. Now, one woman is trying to improve that ratio.

Samantha Case is the founder of Wyoming Women Rise, a proposed non-profit that would provide non-partisan campaign training for women.

Currently, the Wyoming Women’s Caucus puts on Leap Into Leadership, which provides workshops that encourage women to take on leadership roles in their communities and consider running for office. But Case said there was still a need for an organization that goes a step further.

Wyoming Art Party

All across the country Wednesday, women, including some in Wyoming, went on strike in order to demonstrate their economic power as part of  “A Day Without Women.” The event coincided with International Women’s Day.

Laramie resident Heather Rockwell said she decided to take the day off from her job after she participated in the Women’s March in Cheyenne in January. She said she has never gone on strike before.

“I’m also an hourly worker,” said Rockwell. “So it’s sort of one those situations of if I don’t work, I don’t get paid. And I was willing to accept that.”

  

The Wyoming legislative session wrapped up on March 3, and Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck joins Caroline Ballard to discuss this year’s work. 

The White House

  

Many Wyoming Republicans are gushing over the vision President Donald Trump laid out in his first address to a joint session of Congress, but critics say it lacked specifics. Matt Laslo reports from Washington.

It had been eight years since a Republican had addressed the nation and the GOP loved what they heard from President Trump who says the American people are behind him.

University of Wyoming

  

President Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to enact stricter immigration policies, and the topic of reform has remained a common thread under the new administration.

University of Wyoming College of Law Professor Noah Novogrodsky is leading a team of law students conducting an economic impact study of the contributions immigrant workers make to Teton County.

Bob Beck

Early in the Wyoming legislative session, we heard from some new lawmakers about what they were expecting. With the legislature ending its 40-day session, the freshmen say they found that they have a healthy respect for the process, but leave with some disappointments.

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