Politics

Wyoming State Legislature

A Senate legislative committee has approved two bills intended to help address the state’s opioid problem. One bill sets up a task force to determine what the problem is and what could be done about it and the other sets up tracking for controlled substance prescriptions in the state. 

Kemmerer Senator Fred Baldwin says they want to track prescriptions so they know who is getting what and how often. 

Bob Beck

A State Senate Committee voted to unanimously support a bill that will help the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality clean up abandoned contaminated sites in the state. The DEQ has been busy repairing a number of so-called orphan sites around the state where the companies are no longer available to pay for the cleanup.  

Luke Esch of the DEQ says the legislation provides money from an account funded by taxes and fees. 

"Really allows us to get away from general funds and find a sustainable source of funding for these projects."

Bob Beck

In his State of the State message, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead said during the economic downturn some budget cuts went too deep, including those felt by the Department of Health and the Department of Family Services.

Laramie Representative Charles Pelkey, a Democrat, said he agrees.

Office of Governor Matt Mead

In his final state of the state message, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead stressed the need to restore some budget cuts, work to diversify the economy, and look for long-term ways to fund education. 

Mead says Wyoming did a good job cutting the budget to deal with a revenue shortfall, but now that the revenue picture has improved, he would like to see the legislature restore funding cuts for agencies such as the Departments of Health and Corrections. 

Governor Matt Mead's 2018 State Of The State Address

Feb 12, 2018
Office of Governor Matt Mead

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead delivered his final State of the State address before members of the Legislature in Cheyenne on February 12, 2018. 

The 2018 budget session gets underway today, and Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck will once again oversee coverage. He joined Morning Edition Host Caroline Ballard to preview what might be in store.

Wyoming Legislature

After hearing that the state’s revenue picture is improving thanks to rising oil prices, the legislature’s Joint Revenue Committee rejected five tax proposals. 

They were intended to help address a $500 million shortfall in education funding. The committee defeated a one percent leisure and hospitality tax on a tie vote and refused to consider four other proposals that included raising sales and property taxes. 

House Minority Leader Cathy Connolly says when the short-term funding crisis disappeared this fall, there was no longer an appetite for taxes.                     

State Of Wyoming

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead signed two executive orders Friday that address recommendations recommended by his ENDOW Council.  

The first one asks state education officials to develop a plan where 67 percent of Wyoming’s working age population would hold a post-secondary degree or certificate by 2025, and for 82 percent to achieve that by 2040.  

         

Downtown Development Authority of Casper, Wyoming

When Casper’s City Council members consider a non-discrimination resolution at their next work session in January, it will be the second time they’ve discussed it. They first saw it in November, and Dee Lundberg said it went over well with most council members. Lundberg is with the local chapter of PFLAG, an LGBT advocacy group.

Wyoming House for Historic Women

Wyoming is rapidly approaching its 150th anniversary of granting women the right to vote – the first government in the world to do so unconditionally.

Following a legislative meeting a few weeks ago where some citizens verbally attacked a legislator, the Wyoming legislature’s management council says it will better train committee chairmen to properly handle such attacks. 

Wyoming Legislature logo
Wyoming Legislature

An effort to become more efficient within state government could generate several million dollars in savings.  

 

The legislature’s management council was told that consolidating human resources, using technology more effectively, and more aggressively going after grants in education could provide the state millions of dollars.  

 

State of Wyoming

A former Cheyenne woman claims that Secretary of State Ed Murray sexually assaulted her in 1982 when they worked together at the law firm of Dray, Madison and Thomson in Cheyenne.

Former Democratic U.S. House Candidate Gary Trauner has announced that he will run for Wyoming’s U.S. Senate seat. The seat is currently held by John Barrasso who is up for re-election. Trauner who calls himself an organizational and financial entrepreneur most recently served as the Chief Operating Office of St. John’s Regional Medical Center in Jackson. He said he’s running because government is no longer working.

 

Gage Skidmore / Flickr

In early November, protests broke out at the University of Wyoming over an invitation to conservative radio host Dennis Prager to speak on campus. On Wednesday, December 6, the UW debate team will face members of the conservative student group, Turning Point USA, that invited Prager to discuss the decision.

Office of Governor Matt Mead

Governor Matt Mead presented his budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year to the legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee Monday. The budget largely calls for reversing cuts to social services that Mead said have been in effect for long enough to hurt agencies’ ability to deliver services.

Mead wants to increase the Department of Health’s budget by $48 million. But he also rejected some of the department’s recommendations for spending reductions, like privatizing the Wyoming Retirement Center and Pioneer Home, an assisted living facility.

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)
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.

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