A special legislative committee investigating Wyoming schools Superintendent Cindy Hill released a scathing report Tuesday concluding she failed to follow legislative funding directives and demanded rank-and-file education department staff to demonstrate personal loyalty to her.
Hill has 15 days to respond before the committee will issue its final report, probably before the end of the month.
Dan Kinneman is from Rawlins. His father was one of Wyoming’s longest-serving legislators. In this story, Kinneman—himself a former legislator—describes a childhood visit to Cheyenne during a treacherous winter.
Governor Matt Mead says it’s time to move past the argument over climate change, and start finding solutions that will allow the continued use of fossil fuels, including coal. Answering questions after a speech at the Wyoming Infrastructure Authority board meeting Wednesday the governor reiterated that he remains skeptical about the science behind climate change, but said that’s besides the point.
Park County Commissioners have unanimously voted to give $5000 to an organization that is trying to get federal lands in state hands.
The American Lands Council claims the federal government promised to give back public lands to newly created states. Park County Commission Chair Bucky Hall said that Utah’s Congressman Rob Bishop is trying to make it law.
“Bishop is going to present a bill in Congress asking for the return of the lands. They would become state lands.”
Hall says this movement is a continuation of the Sage Brush rebellion.
Bill Schilling is the president of the Wyoming Business Alliance. He was instrumental in getting the Hathaway scholarship passed through the legislature, and he says it’s one of his greatest accomplishments.
The Hathaway allows students to get money for college if they meet certain academic criteria. Here, Schilling talks with former dean of the UW Business School Brent Hathaway. (In case you were wondering – no, the scholarship is not named after him.) Schilling recalls how the Hathaway scholarship came to be.
A Wyoming legislative committee will decide if it wants to reconsider the powers and duties of the State Superintendent of Public Instruction this Friday.
State Superintendent Cindy Hill returned to lead the Department of Education this week, after the Wyoming Supreme Court ruled that a law stripping her ability to oversee the department was unconstitutional.
Governor Matt Mead says he doesn’t know what the legislative committee will try to do.
The State Board of Education has decided to hold off on making any decisions about how to move forward with development of science standards. A footnote in the state budget bill that the governor signed earlier this month prohibits the Board from adopting, or even considering, a set of national standards that it had been reviewing for more than a year. Some legislators objected to the standards’ treatment of climate change and evolution.
Patrick Goggles has been serving in the Wyoming House of Representatives since 2005. But at the end of the recent budget session, he announced that he won’t be seeking reelection in 2014. Goggles is a democrat from House District 33, which includes a piece of the Wind River Indian Reservation in Fremont County.
Right before the close of the session, the Wyoming Legislature slipped a small amendment into the budget bill that’s proving to have some big implications. The footnote prohibits the State Board of Education from considering a set of national science education standards that it had been reviewing for more than a year, and as Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce reports, it raises questions about whose role it is to establish those standards.
A tiny footnote in Wyoming’s budget bill is causing a big stir. The state’s science education standards are due for an overhaul, and the Board of Education had been considering a set of national standards called the Next Generation Science Standards to replace them.
The Wyoming legislative session wrapped up this week and three issues dominated. One was the state budget. Another was the legislature’s decision to reject federal dollars to expand Medicaid, and the final issue was the Supreme Court Decision that said that it was unconstitutional for the legislature to demote State Superintendent Cindy Hill. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck asked lawmakers about some of those issues and has this report.
We just heard legislators discussing some of the issues of the past session, but we also chatted with some who attended the session. Wyoming Public Radio intern Erin Jones got some reaction from a variety of onlookers.
Outgoing Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau says he is wrapping up his legislative career. The Gillette Republican is a fierce advocate for coal and the extractive industries.
Speaker Lubnau also has had some strong views recently about the University of Wyoming and got national attention over his reaction to the infamous Carbon Sink sculpture that was placed near old main. He speaks with Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck
After considerable discussion, the Wyoming legislature approved a bill that would let the state and the federal government move forward with finalizing a deal to swap state owned land in Grand Teton National Park with the federal government. Some senators expressed concern that the federal mineral land won't match the estimated $100 million value of the state's park land, but Jackson Senator Leland Christensen says the bill was changed to ensure the trade will be fair.
Members of Wyoming's Republican leadership raved about the legislative session that wrapped up Thursday, praising the state budget and lawmakers' support of business. The GOP leaders said the budget will do a lot for the state, but they noted that they were also able to put a lot into savings. Although the Senate Appropriations Committee was criticized for focusing too much on saving, Chairman Eli Bebout says in fact they probably spent too much. He says the energy industry could face tough times in Wyoming and it's important to be prepared.
A bill that would set up a land swap with the federal government for state-owned lands inside Grand Teton National Park is still a ways from being resolved. Senators are leery that the state may not get fair value for state trust lands inside the park.
A conference committee is trying to resolve differences between House and Senate versions of a bill that compensates people wrongly convicted of a crime. The House version of the bill says that someone exonerated of a crime via DNA, still has to return to court and prove their innocence in order to get compensation.
The Senate rejected that notion. Bill Sponsor Keith Gingery says he doesn't like the House version, but that the bill is important and he doesn't want to lose it.
A bill that establishes a new large state loan program and also benefits a Cody business has passed the legislature.
The House made final touches to the bill that will give a $24-million state loan to Lannett Co. Inc., which is considering a nearly $100 million expansion of its Cody lab. In final debate, some in the House questioned the state giving such loans. Evansville Representative Kendall Kroeker says all businesses need loans.
Grizzly bear management and Wyoming Game and Fish employee health insurance will be covered out of the state’s general fund in future budget cycles. The Legislature passed a bill that sidesteps their refusal to raise hunting and fishing licenses fees by allowing the agency to request state funding for those programs. Game and Fish Director Scott Talbott says it will free up about $7 million.
The Wyoming Senate has given final approval to a bill that will allow people to drive 80 miles per hour legally on certain sections of the state’s highways. Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau said the idea came to him from a constituent who noticed similar laws had been approved in Texas and in Utah.
“And I started looking at the statistics and found that the statistics show that the fatalities have either not increased or they decreased both in Utah or Texas," Lubnau says. "And it just allows people to go 80 miles an hour in those places where it’s safe to do that.”
The Wyoming Senate gave final approval to a bill that sets aside $5 million for school districts to place cameras on school buses to catch motorists who illegally pass stopped buses.
Several senators opposed the bill saying the focus should be on prevention. One idea was to add more lights to the buses, so that motorists can't ignore them, but Sheridan Senator Bruce Burns says that won't do much.
"This is happening 50,000 times a year in this state," Burns says. "I cannot believe that those people are not seeing those buses. I think they are ignoring that law. "
The Wyoming House of Representatives has given initial approval to a bill that sets up a state loan program and also helps fund the expansion of a Cody business.
The bill allows loans to be used for large economic development projects. It would also provides $24 million in state money for a company to expand its operation in Cody. Officials say it will create over 100 jobs. Cody Representative Sam Krone says these types of loans will help diversify Wyoming's economy.
The Wyoming House and Senate have agreed to changes in the state budget bill. The bill gives public employees a roughly 2.4 percent pay hike, provides money for improvements at community colleges and the University of Wyoming, and $175 million for local governments. Senator Eli Bebout called it a responsible budget.
The Wyoming House is considering a bill that would set up a program to test those who have been arrested for substance abuse misdemeanors at all hours of the day.
House Judiciary Chairman Keith Gingery says 24/7 sobriety programs like this are currently working in some select Wyoming counties and in other states. The bill funds a program where the substance abuser is tested regularly, sometimes twice a day, for drug or alcohol use. Gingery says not only will the legislation help people, it could reduce crime.
Lawmakers finishing up work on the state budget have accepted a compromise amendment that encourages the Governor and other members of state government to figure out a way to expand Medicaid under Wyoming terms.
Conference Committee members accepted a version of a House amendment that now says the state may work with federal officials on an expansion plan, as long as Medicaid Expansion doesn't harm Wyoming businesses. Dan Neal of the Equality State Policy Center credits the public for convincing lawmakers to do something.
The Wyoming House of Representatives again discussed whether to provide money to the Wyoming Game and Fish Department for health insurance and for management of grizzly bears.
Wednesday the House voted down an attempt to remove the Grizzly funding and Thursday the House defeated an amendment that would have removed health insurance funds. House Floor Leader Kermit Brown says the additional money is needed because lawmakers won't approve license fee increases.
Many parent groups across the nation are expressing concern about the data school districts collect on students and how it’s used.
Wyoming’s House of Representatives has approved a bill requiring the development of a plan that would help keep data confidential. Laramie Democrat Cathy Connolly said that parents have expressed a number of concerns.
The Wyoming Senate gave initial approval to a bill that would place cameras on school buses. The idea is to capture motorists who illegally pass buses while they are stopped. The bill allocates $5 million to purchase and install the cameras, an expense the Senate Appropriations Committee opposed. Senate Appropriations Chairman Eli Bebout suggested that money be spent on prevention and not enforcement. Education Chairman Hank Coe, of Cody, says prevention hasn't worked.