Politics

Bob Beck

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead unveiled a mostly flat supplemental budget that features no new budget cuts.

The governor is proposing limited spending, using only a small portion of the legislature’s rainy day fund for things like Title 25 that addresses those with mental health issues, and a contingency fund for corrections. He put forth bonding as a way to fix problems with the prison in Rawlins.  

Matt Micheli

Wyoming U.S. House Representative Cynthia Lummis is rumored to be on the short list for Secretary of the Interior in the Trump administration and the Wyoming Republican Party is doing what it can to make that happen.

State party chairman Matt Micheli said at this point it’s just a matter of trying to put in a good word in Washington.

“You know the transition team is assembled and there are people on the transition team that I know well," he said. "We can raise our hand and say ‘hey.'”

National Park Service

Five Wyomingites became U.S. citizens in a naturalization ceremony at the federal courthouse in Kemmerer on Monday. 

Naturalization ceremonies aren’t as common in Wyoming as other states but have been more frequent this year because of the National Park Centennial. Several states co-hosted ceremonies this year at Yellowstone National Park where new citizens took the oath of allegiance.

Brooklynn Gray

Hundreds of University of Wyoming students, faculty, and community members protested the outcome of last week’s election with a Solidarity Walk Out Monday.

Reports of discrimination and harassment of minorities have increased across the U.S. in recent days. The solidarity walk, which started at the Wyoming Union before heading downtown and back, was meant to show support for LGBTQ individuals, Muslims, immigrants and other marginalized groups.

After some losses in Tuesday’s election, the Wyoming State Legislature’s Democratic count is down from 13 to 12. However, there were a couple of victories over Republican incumbents, like Debbie Bovee’s defeat of Gerald Gay in Casper.

Wyoming State Legislature

There will be fewer women serving in Wyoming's legislature after Tuesday's election. A large number of women ran for seats in the state house and senate, 37 total. But only 10 won their races.

Currently, Wyoming has the lowest representation of women in its legislature in the country, with just 12 women currently in office.

Cathy Connolly, the House District 13 representative, said she is at a loss for why the state ended up losing female representatives.

Bouchard

Republican Anthony Bouchard beat Independent Kym Zwonitzer in the race for Senate District 6 by about 300 votes. The seat represents rural Laramie and Goshen Counties.

Zwonitzer entered the race after her husband David lost in the Republican primary. Bouchard leads a gun rights organization and calls himself a fiscal conservative.  He says the state must reduce its spending.   

“I think the biggest problem that we have had since the time that I have been watching the legislature very closely, is that it’s just been a spending spree,” said Bouchard. 

Wyoming State Legislature

Republican challenger Jared Olsen beat Democratic incumbent Mary Throne in House District 11 of Laramie County. It was a close race, with Olsen winning by only 63 votes.

Representative Throne’s loss came despite raising more than $34,000, a remarkably high amount for a local race in Wyoming. It’s also remarkable considering she’s served five terms, most recently as the House Minority Floor Leader.

Jared Olsen has never held elected office, but that didn’t keep him from challenging a five-term incumbent. Olsen said Wyoming’s biggest issue is fixing its economy.

Brett Neilson

Wyoming Public Radio's Caroline Ballard interviews News Director Bob Beck about what the outcomes of several key races mean for Wyoming.

Marian Orr

Marian Orr has been elected to be Cheyenne’s next Mayor.  Orr won Cheyenne’s hotly contested mayoral race with 56 percent of the vote.

Throughout her campaign, she said she was focused on repairing infrastructure in the city, especially roads, and improving the city’s police force. Now she said it will be a matter of moving funds around.

Ryan Greene

Democrat Ryan Greene has conceded the race for Wyoming's lone U.S. house to Liz Cheney. With 80 percent of precincts reporting, Cheney has taken 62 percent of the vote while Greene took 30. Greene said he wishes Cheney the best of luck going forward but offered her some advice.

“Well, you know, vote for Wyoming, not for the party,” Greene said. “Our issues are not reflective of one party. Always, always keep the Wyoming people in mind, regardless of the party. Do what’s best for the state.”

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

The daughter of a former Vice President is Wyoming’s new Congressman. Liz Cheney easily defeated Ryan Greene to win the same seat that was once held by her father Dick. 

Cheney had been accused of being a carpet bagger after moving to the state to run for federal office. But her strong views about abolishing the Environmental Protection Agency and against a number of Obama administration policies gained her support. Cheney says it was a message many wanted to hear.

Caroline Ballard

As voters cast their ballots this Election Day in the first race to feature a major-party female candidate for President, some Laramie residents gathered to honor the first female voter. In 1870, Wyoming became the first state to give women the right to vote. Laramie resident Louisa Swain was the first woman to exercise that right. 

Around 50 voters gathered at the statue of Swain in Laramie Tuesday to pay their respects and to voice support for female candidates, including presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

blogtrepreneur.com/li

Three of Wyoming’s Supreme Court justices and seventeen District and Circuit Court Judges in the state are up for retention on Tuesday’s ballot.

Brett Neilson

Jackson resident says a state system that flags voters as potential non-citizens may be intimidating some U.S. citizens, who have the legal right to vote.

Jackson's Gina Valencia became a U.S. citizen in 2010. That November she registered to vote in her first U.S. election and then voted in five elections. The Wyoming Department of Transportation has a copy of her U.S. passport on file as proof of her citizenship.

But this year, she received a letter from the Teton County Clerk saying she had been flagged by the state as a "potential non-citizen."

Mayoral candidates Marian Orr and Amy Surdam were friends for a couple of years. Then, they each learned the other was seeking to become Cheyenne’s next mayor. Marian Orr said they decided to meet up.

“We had coffee,” said Orr. “I knew that she was considering, and I wanted to be very upfront with her that I was considering the race, as well.”

Amy Surdam remembered the meeting, as well.

Cheyenne’s two mayoral candidates have raised nearly $50,000 over the course of their campaigns, according to new filings with the Laramie County clerk's office. 

Amy Surdam, who is running on a platform of improving amenities in Cheyenne, raised more than $30,000, largely during the primary race. Of that, $3,500 came from political action committees, including the Cheyenne PAC, Federated Firefighters of Wyoming PAC and the Wyoming Realtors PAC.

American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming

The American Civil Liberties Union of Wyoming has named Sabrina King as its new Policy Director in hopes of increasing its presence in Wyoming, after financial pressures forced the organization to shrink about a year and a half ago.  

Forward Wyoming

Two organizations the Wyoming Republican party alleged violated campaign finance laws sent official responses to the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office. 

The Wyoming GOP said that mailers sent by Forward Wyoming Advocacy were actually paid for by a progressive political consulting firm, but not marked as such. 

But the Executive Director of Forward Wyoming Advocacy, Sydney Stein said in a press release that while her organization contracts with ELLA Wyoming for data management and web design, they are not one and the same.  

Wikipedia

The Wyoming Republican Party has filed two complaints with the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office, alleging certain mailers broke campaign finance laws. The two complaints were filed on October 20 and 25, and refer to two separate mailers sent to Wyoming residents earlier this month, which expressed support for Democratic candidates in legislative races around the state.

Marian Orr, Amy Surdam

The Cheyenne mayoral race is heating up as it heads into its final weeks before Election Day. It’s a historic race, as two women vie to become the city’s first female mayor. 

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

A new forecast shows that Wyoming revenues continue to fall. The Consensus Revenue Estimating Group, or CREG, says the State of Wyoming will be $150 million dollars short in the current two year budget.  

The state is facing unprecedented declines in the coal market, and oil and gas prices are half what they were two years ago. CREG says the shortfall would have been worse if the governor had not cut $250 million from the state budget this summer. But during a Monday news conference, Governor Matt Mead said he doesn’t want to make any more cuts. 

Bob Beck

Candidates for Wyoming’s lone seat in the U.S. House of Representatives met Thursday night at Casper College for this election’s only debate. Like many past elections, candidates argued over the legitimacy of their ties to the state and their abilities to understand its unique challenges.

Wikipedia

The Wyoming Supreme Court heard arguments Thursday in the criminal appeals case of former Albany County prosecutor, Richard Bohling.  

In February, Bohling was found guilty of five charges related to improperly using government money to purchase cameras, photography equipment and other electronics. He was sentenced to two to four years in prison, along with an order to pay $45,000 in fines and more than $3,000 in restitution to Albany County. Bohling’s counsel then filed an appeals case with the Wyoming Supreme Court to overturn all five convictions. 

Keep It Public, Wyoming Facebook Page

The group Keep it Public, Wyoming is hosting a rally November 5 to protest public lands being transferred from the federal government to the state.

Wyoming Equality Facebook Page

On Monday, Douglas became the most recent Wyoming town to pass a non-discrimination resolution to support LGBT people. That same night, a similar resolution passed its first reading at the Cheyenne City Council meeting.

Non-discrimination resolutions hold no real legal power. Instead, they are designed to encourage the Wyoming Legislature to pass a non-discrimination state law. Wyoming Equality spokeswoman Sara Burlingame said a state law would hold legal power and would protect LGBT people in Wyoming from discrimination in matters of housing, employment, and accommodations.

Farm to Consumer Legal Defense Fund

In 2015, Wyoming passed the Food Freedom Act, allowing the state’s food producers to sell an unprecedented number of products often illegal in other states, like unpasteurized milk and poultry, direct to consumers.

But on September 21, U.S. Department of Agriculture inspectors required a vendor at the Gillette farmer’s market to dump all of his containers of chicken chili. State Representative Tyler Lindholm worked closely with the USDA to get the law passed and said he’s trying to figure out what happened so the state’s producers can be in compliance going forward.

Wyoming Youth Voter Summit

A Youth Voter Summit planned for Tuesday will be the first of its kind in Wyoming. The summit is being held in response to low voter turnout by young residents.

The summit will include voter registration, panel discussions and a number of speakers, including Governor Matt Mead and Olympic gold medalist Rulon Gardner.

Maggie Mullen

Wyoming’s economic downturn has decreased the amount of money the state gives to local governments at a time when many counties were already facing local revenue losses.

Johnson County Treasurer Carla Faircloth said her county's assessed valuation is down more than anywhere else in the state. Natrona County Sheriff Gus Holbrook said he has had to cut five positions and he predicts that may increase emergency response time.

Natrona County Coroner Connie Jacobson said like most agencies, her department is learning to do more with less.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

Proposals for generating new state revenue failed to draw much support from the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Revenue Committee during its meeting this week.

 

The committee rejected proposals to increase taxes on wind energy and tobacco. A bill that would have introduced a sales tax on services also failed and a proposal to repeal some sales tax exemptions was largely gutted. Of the nine sales tax exemptions considered, the committee voted to keep five of them intact.

 

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