Politics

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.

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.

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.

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. 

When Congress recessed earlier this month, Senators Enzi and Barrasso and Representative Cheney all held office hours and visited communities around Wyoming – but did not hold larger public events in the state.

The annual Leap Into Leadership Conference begins Monday in Cheyenne. It’s hosted by the Wyoming Women’s Legislative Caucus as a way to encourage women, and give them the tools to run for public office. This year the focus is on civil discourse and debate, with one of the panels titled “How Do We Disagree Without Being Disagreeable?”

Wyoming Department of Education

February 23rd is Digital Learning Day. It’s appropriate then that on Thursday, the House took up Senate File 35 on virtual education. The bill, which updates guidelines for student enrollment in online classes, passed Committee of the Whole in the House, but not without being amended. An appropriation for $250,000 to establish a centralized statewide management system was removed.

State of Wyoming Legislature

On Thursday, the Wyoming House of Representatives Committee passed the first reading of a bill that would establish a council charged with studying and implementing a plan to diversify Wyoming’s economy. The bill would create the ENDOW Council (or Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming Council).

Lander Representative Jim Allen proposed an amendment adding a tribal member to the council, which he said fits with the stated mission of the council.

University of Wyoming

The Wyoming Senate has defeated a bill that would have allowed those with concealed carry permits to carry guns on the University of Wyoming Campus and at Community Colleges. 

The Senate defeated the measure 17 to 13 after sponsor Anthony Bouchard of Cheyenne urged lawmakers to restore gun rights. University officials and some of the colleges begged to leave this issue up to campus trustees, but Bouchard says local control isn’t working. 

"The campuses have had the right or the ability to allow carry, but they even admitted in committee that they don’t want to do it.”

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