wyoming legislature

A bill that would set up a committee to look into the possibility of the state transferring, acquiring, and managing federal lands has been given initial approval in the Wyoming Senate.

That's despite questions about the goal of the committee and whether the effort is worthwhile.   Senator John Schiffer wanted more clarification on what the committee is supposed to actually accomplish.

What education reforms would you like to see from the Wyoming Legislature?

WPM/NPR Community Discussion Rules

As part of the UW request to the Wyoming legislature, WPM requested $2.5 million in the 2014 legislative session for critical infrastructure upgrades and replacements. WPM operates sites throughout the state.  Many of them are operating on equipment far past its useful time.  The most critical sites serve Laramie/Cheyenne and Rock Springs. 

“Wyoming Public Radio” is a state treasure.  Every Wyomingite should be able to access on ratio the public programming it provides, as well as critical emergency broadcasts,” says Christina Kuzmych, WPM General Manager.

Rep. Sue Wallis Dies

Jan 28, 2014

Representative Sue Wallis, from Recluse, Wyoming, has died. The cause is still unknown. She was 56 years old.

The Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee wrapped up its pre-session work on Friday and approved additional funding for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department…two percent pay hikes for state, community college, and University of Wyoming employees…and money for a number of construction projects.  Republican lawmakers call their budget conservative and forward thinking, especially since they say the revenue picture is uncertain in the future.  However, a Democratic lawmaker has concerns.  Cheyenne Representative Mary Throne is particularly upset that the J-A-C took money that was intende

Over the years the legislature has not been overly supportive of efforts to fund early childhood education in Wyoming, mostly because of concerns that the state could interfere with private business.  But members of the Joint Education Committee hope that a new proposal can overcome those concerns.  The committee has drafted a bill that will coordinate all the early childhood efforts that currently exist and provide money to improve services.  Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports.                     

Representative Sue Wallis has drafted a bill that would legalize medical marijuana in Wyoming. She’s even considering revising it to include recreational marijuana, as well. Wallis toured facilities in Colorado where recreational marijuana is packaged and labeled and says she was impressed with how smoothly everything is going. 

Members of the Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Interim Committee voted Friday to advance two Medicaid expansion bills to the full Legislature for consideration in the budget session that starts next month.

On Thursday, several witnesses told committee members that said they can't afford health insurance on the open market.

A group from Fremont County will rally before a legislative meeting Tuesday/Today to encourage the committee support expanding the state’s Medicaid program. 

The Joint Health and Labor committee will consider a revised expansion proposal from the Department of Health that would provide a limited expansion of Medicaid. 

The Legislature’s Revenue Committee strongly supported a bill Tuesday that would lower interest rates on unpaid mineral taxes.

Currently, if a state audit finds that companies have incorrectly reported their production, counties can levy interest of up to 18 percent on back taxes.

The bill changes that, pegging interest to current rates, with a minimum of 12 percent and a maximum of 18 percent. Interest rates for companies that discover the discrepancy on their own would remain the same – at 18 percent.

http://townmapsusa.com/d/map-of-buffalo-wyoming-wy/buffalo_wy

After a lengthy discussion, the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee voted to support a two-percent external cost adjustment for public schools. 

The external cost adjustment would address inflation issues within the school funding model, and is used by most districts to pay for salary increases.  Lawmakers have been reluctant to support an ECA over the last several years due to budget concerns, and the appropriations committee was told that spending for education in Wyoming remains among the top 10 in the country. 

The Wyoming Board of Education has written to the Legislature’s select committee on educational accountability, asking to set up a group of stakeholders to develop or choose a new educational assessment for the state. 

Assessments will be used to determine such things as student progress in some key subject areas.  State Board of Education Chairman Ron Micheli says in Oregon, stakeholders included state board members, teachers, administrators, higher education officials, and parents.  He says they’d like to do the same thing here.

The legislature’s Joint Revenue committee will discuss the possibility of raising the state beer tax Friday/Today. 

Beer is currently taxed two cents a gallon, a tax that was established in 1935.  Supporters want to raise the tax to pay for underfunded substance abuse programs.  Wyoming has the lowest beer taxes in the nation.

Riverton Mayor Ron Warpness says communities have trouble finding money to pay for substance abuse programs, and he says that he’s disappointed that the Legislature has frequently scuttled attempts to raise the tax.

A new report shows that the Wyoming Department of Education data collection and processing arm is needs serious improvements.

Animal-vehicle collisions have long been a problem in western states, leaving big game carcasses discarded along – or in the middle of – roadways. This week, it became legal in Montana to salvage and eat deer, elk, antelope and moose that have been hit and killed by cars.

Similar legislation died in the Wyoming Legislature this year. Currently, anyone who picks up road-killed game without a game warden permit runs the risk of being charged with poaching.

Bill co-sponsor Representative Dan Zwonitzer says this means more work for state agencies, which manage the road kill.

The Wyoming legislative session wrapped up Wednesday. Lawmakers leave with mixed emotions about the session.  Most agree that the one thing that they will remember about the session is the vote to strip State Superintendent Cindy Hill of many of her duties.  Senator Cale Case says that set the tone for the first part of the session.

“It’s been a very different session I think.  That whole Senate File 104 that Cindy Hill…Department of Education bill…that was a different way to start.  And I’m not sure I’ve recovered from that I think,” says Case.

After receiving threats and attacks concerning Senators’ patriotism and support of gun rights, Senate Majority Floor Leader Phil Nicholas decided that the Senate would not debate a pair of gun rights bills.  One bill would allow local law enforcement to arrest federal officials enforcing federal gun laws in the state and the other gave the state power to keep local officials from developing their own gun regulations.  Nicholas says the bills were poorly drafted and gave one example:

Wyoming Legislature

During debate on a Medicaid reform bill, the Wyoming House of Representatives rejected an amendment that would have expanded Medicaid for over 17,000 uninsured state residents.  Supporters noted that the state has looked for ways to reduce health care costs and they say the expansion would accomplish that.  House Labor and Health Committee Chairwoman Elaine Harvey says the issue requires more study.  The federal will pay 100 percent of the first three years of the expansion.  Harvey says Wyoming can join at a later date.

The State Senate has approved a bill that allows Wyoming to enter into a multi-state lottery.  Senators amended to move money that would be generated from the lottery from cities and counties to a fund that benefits schools.  Opponents of the lottery say it will hurt the poor.  But Senator Hank Coe says there is a lot of support for the measure.

“The citizens of this state want this bill.  I saw a poll in the last 12 months, 62 or 63% of the people in that poll support this lottery,” says Coe.

A massive bill that attempts to reform Wyoming’s current Medicaid program was given initial approval in the State House of Representatives.  One of the goals of the bill is to establish caps on how much is spent in the developmental disability program.  What lawmakers want to do is limit spending to what’s really necessary for clients in the program.  Evansville Republican Kendall Kroeker says his son receives services from the program and only requires a minimal amount of money, so he supports the new limits.

A bill that would legalize the practice of tip sharing has failed after a conference committee of House and Senate members could not reach agreement on the bill.  Sponsor Ruth Ann Petroff of Jackson says lawmakers also heard a lot of negative feedback on the bill, so conference committee members agreed to drop it for the year.

The Wyoming Senate has given final approval to a bill that would focus accountability in education on individual schools in the state.  The statewide education accountability phase one bill would establish benchmarks for schools. If schools don’t meet those benchmarks, they will have to develop a school improvement plan.  Senator Chris Rothfuss says that lawmakers hope to measure student performance in coming months.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has line item vetoed three areas of the state supplemental budget.  The governor vetoed a section that involved the management of surplus state money and he vetoed a section that required state agencies to consider more budget cuts.  Mead says it doesn’t make sense for agencies to re-do that exercise, especially since it’s possible that the state may get more revenue.

The Wyoming Senate is close to approving a bill that would allow the state to enter into a multi-state lottery.  The Senate spent the second day of debate on the bill clarifying language to make sure that the lottery is run properly and that the state is protected.  The Senate has not spent as much time on the moral issues that were the focus in the House.  Senator Michael Von Flatern of Gillette says the Senate noted that those concerns were already aired in the House.

Senate committee amends and passes gun bills

Feb 20, 2013
Bob Beck

A Wyoming Senate Committee has watered down a bill that was intended to arrest federal officials if they enforced federal gun bans in Wyoming.  The House version of the bill would have allowed local law enforcement to arrest federal officials and charge them with a misdemeanor.  But several members of the Senate Judiciary Committee worried that the bill was unconstitutional.  Jackson Senator Leland Christensen successfully changed the bill to allow the enforcement by federal law enforcement officials, but keeps Wyoming law enforcement from helping.

The State Senate has given initial approval to a bill that would remove the ability for Political Action Committees to give unlimited donations to candidates running for office.  The bill limits the spending of a PAC to $5,000 in statewide races and $2,500 in local races.  Individuals would be allowed to spend up to $2,500 dollars on a campaign. Supporters of the bill have complained that political action committees are used as a way to get a significant amount of money into a campaign.  Casper Senator Bill Landen says right now people contribute through PACS because it allows them to contr

The Wyoming House and Senate have reached a budget agreement on a $78 million supplemental budget and will send it to the Governor for his consideration.  While there was no discussion in the Senate, several representatives in the House were concerned that instead of cutting government…the legislature is spending more.  But House Appropriations Chairman Steve Harshman says most of the money is one-time spending.

The State Senate has approved a bill that will study ways to keep the Life Resource Center in Lander open.  The facility serves those with extreme disabilities. The House version of the bill looked at ways of phasing residents out of the facility with the option of closing it down.  Senator Cale Case of Lander says the Senate wants to take a different approach.

The Wyoming House has passed a bill that will allow hunters to use silencers and suppressors for various types of hunting in the state. Before passing the bill, the House removed an amendment that would not have allowed silencers when hunting for big game.  But Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau argued that there are plenty of protections if someone violates the law and if they misuse a silencer or a suppressor the hunter can be punished.

The Wyoming Senate has given approval to a bill that will allow restaurants to set up a system where servers will turn in tips, so that they can be redistributed to other service workers at the establishment.  Senator Ogden Driskill of Devils Tower says it will allow all service employees to make a greater wage.  Driskill says such pooling already takes place in Wyoming, but it isn’t legal.  He says workers and employers want it legalized.

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