Politics

Photo by Erik (HASH) Hersman via CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

State and county officials have formed a task force to address Wyoming’s aging election equipment. Teton County Clerk Sherry Daigle said it’s now ten years old and the technology has gotten behind the times.

“Technology is outdated the day you put it into effect because it moves so fast,” she said. “And a lot of the equipment we have is, you know, they’re computer scanners and readers. So we wanted to make sure we’re not behind the eight ball.”

sheridanwyoming.org

The Sheridan City Council passed a non-discrimination resolution, though it lacked any protections for or language referencing LGBT people.

Legislative Service Office

Wyoming’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Group says that Wyoming’s income is slightly increasing and is $141 million over its January forecast.   

The report indicates increases in such things as interest income, sales tax, and oil revenues. Lawmakers use the CREG forecast to craft the state budget. A lot of that increase is already in hand due to end of the fiscal year revenue collections. 

The Williams Institute

Gays and lesbians in Wyoming can be discriminated against when it comes to employment and housing. Wyoming has a non-discrimination law, but it does not include sexual orientation or gender identity. According to a recent study by the Williams Institute at UCLA’s School of Law, that leaves more than 15,000 LGBT residents vulnerable.

Matt Laslo

Wyoming’s senators are supporting a massive bill to overhaul the nation’s health care system next week.

The new GOP health bill eliminates the mandate that every American must have health insurance and it ends the Obamacare subsidies that help many Wyomingites afford insurance. The new proposal does maintain some taxes under the Affordable Care Act but then sends that money back to the states as a block grant, which Wyoming Senator John Barrasso likes. 

University of Wyoming School of Law

On Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, also known as DACA, would be phased out.

Suzie Pritchett is an Associate Professor and the Director of the Family and Immigrant Justice Clinic at the University of Wyoming College of Law. She spoke with Wyoming Public Radio’s Maggie Mullen about how DACA came to be, its relevance to Wyoming, and what is now at stake for its recipients.

This story is the first in a series on the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. Listen to the other stories below:

Brian Harrington / Mary For Wyoming

Former State Representative Mary Throne announced Saturday she is running for governor of Wyoming.

A Cheyenne Democrat, Throne served in the Wyoming House for ten years, and as the House Minority Floor Leader for three of those. She was narrowly defeated by Republican newcomer Jared Olsen in the 2016 election after a contentious race.

Throne said that election was a humbling experience.

Wyoming Medical Center

The U.S. Senate released its version of a healthcare bill Thursday. Wyoming Senators Mike Enzi and John Barrasso helped craft the legislation, and they say it will be an improvement over the Affordable Care Act. But the head of the state's largest hospital is worried.

Vickie Diamond, CEO of the Wyoming Medical Center in Casper, said ultimately the bill would hurt hospitals in Wyoming. She said the biggest impact would be from the bill’s significant decrease in federal Medicaid funding, starting in 2021.

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. 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)

U.S. Senator Mike Enzi is recovering in a Gillette hospital after undergoing an emergency gallbladder surgery on Sunday night. Enzi was in the area for a Memorial Day ceremony. 

After a few days of feeling poorly, Senator Enzi visited Campbell County Memorial Hospital. Enzi’s spokesman Max D’Onofrio said doctors were able to quickly identify the problem and removed Enzi’s gallbladder that same day.

D'Onofrio said Enzi was relieved to be in Gillette when he fell ill.

Photo by Erik (HASH) Hersman via CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

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.

Casper Police Department website

The Casper City Manager's office says Police Chief Jim Wetzel will not be retained. The change in leadership comes in the midst of multiple investigations of the department. 

In April, a third party survey of 84 employees at the Casper Police department revealed a hostile work environment and an ineffective chain of command that prevented officers from proper investigations. The survey also pointed to the city’s administration for ignoring these concerns. Two days after the survey was made public, Casper City Manager V.H. McDonald announced his retirement.

Wikipedia Creative Commons

A ballot initiative in Casper is aiming to give residents the ability to choose what form of local government their city operates under. Right now, Casper’s city council hires a city manager to handle employees and daily operations. The council also selects a mayor from within their ranks, but the position has little power. 

If the ballot initiative gets 3,700 signatures, voters could begin a new system where voters would elect the mayor position. The new mayoral role would oversee daily operations in place of a city manager.

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. 

daveynin via Flickr

A new report released Tuesday said while some claims of sexual abuse at Yellowstone National Park were exaggerated or untrue, the park does have a serious problem with quote, a “men’s club” culture.

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.

U.S. Senators Mike Enzi of Wyoming and John McCain of Arizona reintroduced the COINS Act last week, pushing to replace the dollar bill with a coin. The legislation would also create a cheaper process for producing nickels and eliminate the penny, which the treasury has said costs more than it is worth.

Proponents of these changes say they will add billions of dollars to the federal budget. Similar bills have failed in multiple recent sessions, but Press Secretary Max D’Onofrio said Enzi sees the bill as a tool to reduce the deficit.

As part of an Environment and Public Works committee hearing Wednesday on “Cleaning Up Our Nation’s Cold War Legacy Sites,” Wyoming Senator John Barrasso urged the federal government to help clean up former missile sites in Wyoming and around the west.

Senator Barrasso is the chairman of that committee, and said in his statement that the government has a responsibility to restore these sites.

Wikimedia Commons

The Teton County Sheriff’s Office and the Town of Jackson Police Department have released an open letter on immigration. The letter addresses concerns by residents about the threat of potential immigration raids and changes to deportation policies.

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.

Melodie Edwards

The Wyoming legislature passed two bills this session to expand the Food Freedom Act. The act was first passed in 2015 to allow local food producers to more easily sell otherwise home grown foods, like raw milk and poultry, directly to consumers.

The act is a unique piece of legislation in the U.S., and Sundance Representative Tyler Lindholm said many states have started to model bills after it.

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.”

Office of Governor Matt Mead

Now that the Wyoming Legislature has passed House Bill 236, school districts are standing by to see if Governor Matt Mead will sign onto the $34 million in cuts to education funding for the upcoming school year. The House and Senate reached a compromise on the bill Friday in the final hours of the 2017 Legislative Session.

If Mead signs it, the hard work of figuring out what and who to cut will begin immediately for district school boards, administrators and business managers.

Bob Beck

No conclusive action was taken Thursday on House Bill 236 – the last standing piece of legislation, which addresses the $400 million education budget deficit.

Legislators and lobbyists expected the bill to come up for a concurrence vote on Thursday, but Speaker of the House Steve Harshman said he delayed action on the bill because he wanted one more day to work on it.  

“I’m going to actually sleep on it, and I’m gonna' keep working tonight on it,” said Harshman. “We’re still working. Working like dogs.” He added a few barks as he walked off down the hall.

Leap Into Leadership

On Monday, women gathered from around the state to attend the tenth annual Leap Into Leadership conference. This year’s conference focused on how to cultivate a more respectful discourse in state politics.

Former U.S. Senator and Bipartisan Policy Center fellow Olympia Snowe was the keynote speaker. She talked about how bipartisanship has never been an easy job, not even when the founding fathers crafted the constitution.

Wikimedia Commons

The Wyoming Senate gave final approval to a pair of bills that will allow guns in public places. 

One will allow school boards to designate certain individuals to carry concealed weapons in schools. The idea is to help protect rural school districts in the state. Senators did approve one amendment that was worded in such a way that some worried that it was allowing those with concealed carry permits onto school grounds. 

Cheyenne Senator Tara Nethercott said it does nothing of the sort.

GOVERNOR.GOV.WYO

The Wyoming House voted for a final time to establish the ENDOW initiative, or the Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming. The initiative was introduced by Governor Matt Mead last November to diversify the state’s economy and now his office is seeking public input. 

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