Cheyenne – The Wyoming legislature is moving ahead with the most controversial issue of the session, tort reform. Medical providers contend that medical costs in WYoming are rising and doctors are leaving the stat, since the state does not limit the damages someone can recover in a medical malpractice state. Trial lawyers say Wyoming juries don't hand out large award.
Cheyenne, Wy – The Senate travel committee has approved a bill that allows the state to take over operation of the Wyoming Territorial Park in Laramie. The financially strapped facility wants the state to take over operation of the historic site. Senator Mike Massie says without the state running the facility it may have to be mothballed. State Parks and Cultural Resources Director Phil Nobel says they will be able to provide the financial support and upkeep that the park has lacked.
Cheyenne, Wy – Two days after Representatives voted it down on introduction the Graduated Licenses issue rose from the dead. With a slight adjustment in wording, the house reconsidered and agreed to allow debate on the bill. It now allows for a young person to get a full license at age 17 instead of having to wait till 18. But it still has requirements for the number of time a teen needs to spend behind a wheel, when they can drive and limits on how many can ride in a car with a 16 year old.
Cheyenne, Wy – The Wyoming legislature will move forward with wolf legislation in an effort to resolve a feud with state and federal officials. Following another meeting with U-S fish and wildlife Director Steve Williams Wednesday, Representative Mike Baker of Thermopolis introduced one house bill and will offer a second later this week, to try and reach a compromise by yielding to the federal position on wolves.
Cheyenne, WY – The minerals industry scored a major victory in the Wyoming House Tuesday. Representatives killed a measure designed to work out differences between mineral rights holders and surface land owners. The bill was touted by supporters as a way to solves disputes in gas development areas. While Representative Pete Illoway admits there have been conflicts that shouldn't have happened, he thought this bill went too far.
Cheyenne, Wy – An increase in small school funding and in an area called external cost adjustment will mean a major increase in funding for state schools. The school funding bill, when combined with other education committee funding bills, will mean that no school districts will lose money. Meanwhile, the committee agreed to add in a six million dollar grant program for full day Kindergarten. This prompted committee chairman Jeff Wasserburger to say that education funding reform is just about over.
Laramie, Wy – Yellowstone and Grand Teton are changing their rules for snowmobiling again. Yellowstone Superintendent Suzanne Lewis made the announcement Wednesday morning. She said 780 sleds are now allowed in Yellowstone each day and 140 sleds can enter Grand Teton every day for the rest of the winter. The changes come in response to a decision by Judge Clarence Brimmer issued Tuesday night. That basically overturned a decision by a Washington D-C judge to cut down the number of snowmobiles allowed in the parks this year and ban them next year.
Cheyenne, WY – Snowmobiling in Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks is on again. Tuesday night, U-S District Judge Clarence Brimmer issued a temporary restraining order setting aside a ban on snowmobiles. Brimmer says without the order, companies that rely on park snowmobiling would suffer irreparable harm due to lost business. He ordered the Park Service to develop temporary rules for the remainder of the 2004 season. Brimmer's ruling apparently conflicts with an order by a US District Judge in Washington, DC.
Wyoming – Cities and towns are out in force to get funding for local government needs. These needs range from infrastructure to a guaranteed revenue stream to local governments. Some of this is addressed in the state budget, but a variety of issues will need to be addressed in legislation. Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck reports that community leaders are anxious about their financial
Cheyenne – State officials are continuing to stand up to the federal government on the wolf management issue. Yesterday the director of the U-S Fish and Wildlife Service visited the state capitol to try and come up with a compromise, but Wyoming Public Radio's Renny MacKay reports that was unsuccessful.
Cheyenne, WY – Federal and state officials could not come to a compromise Tuesday on how Wyoming should manage wolves. This means the two sides are probably heading towards a legal battle. Almost a month after his agency declared Wyoming's wolf management plan unsound the director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service flew to Cheyenne. He met with the governor, state officials and leaders from the legislature. Immediately after the meeting Governor Dave Freudenthal said there was little movement. If the parties can reach a compromise they have to do it before Friday.
Cheyenne – The 57th session of the Wyoming Legislature got underway yesterday with the state of the state address from the governor. He called on lawmakers to take advantage of the opportunity they have and make a serious impact on the future of the state. Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck reports on how the speech went over.
Ottawa, Canada – Fears about the financial impact of mad cow disease aren't being helped by looking north of the border. Mad cow was discovered in Canada in May of 2003. And Canadian farm income may have plunged to record lows last year because of it. A governmental report says realized net income for farmers is expected to drop to a negative $13.4 million for 2003.
Cheyenne, WY – The Wyoming Senate introduced four health care measures Monday in an effort to deal with rising costs. Senate Health Committee Chairman Charlie Scott says the medical errors commission measure is the most significant. It is among the two tort reform measures under consideration and Scott says it would set up a system to look into health care errors and possibly make changes to avoid future ones. Bills also introduced would assist in recruiting doctors, study health care technology and provide smaller hospitals with money to treat catastrophic cases.
Cheyenne, WY – Republican leaders in the Legislature were generally complimentary with their views of Governor Freudenthal's State of the State message. But the Speaker of the House says the Governor used over-the-top, anti-minerals rhetoric in his speech. Representative Fred Parady, a Republican, says the Democratic governor went too far when he said the minerals industry could inadvertently turn our state into a water and wildlife wasteland.
Cheyenne, WY – Governor Dave Freudenthal gave his second State of the State address Monday morning, formally starting to 2004 Wyoming Legislative Session. In a speech that lasted about 50 minutes, the Governor urged legislators to build schools and prisons this session and consider major savings later. During his state of the state message the Governor tried to convince legislators that paying for these things now, will free up money and the need for taxes in the future. He says failure to act now will result in legislators having to come back and face debt or raising taxes.
Laramie, Wy – A plane crashed near the summit of Elk Mountain Friday, killing the pilot and injuring the two passengers. Local authorities carried out a daylong effort to get the survivors off the mountain in south-central Wyoming. They were finally able to reach them around ten o'clock. The plane crashed around 11:30 Friday morning about a thousand feet below the 11-thousand, 100-foot summit. The passengers were able to contact authorities by cell phone.
Cheyenne – This week, the Wyoming Arts Council surpassed its goal of raising $100,000 in the 100 Days of Arts campaign. But this should really come as no surprise. In recent years, it seems the Wyoming arts community has enjoyed its own little renaissance. Wyoming Public Radio's Aaron Alpern has more on this unexpectedly rich part of the Cowboy State.
Laramie, WY – The first woman appointed to the US Supreme Court will speak at the University of Wyoming on March 16th. The speech by Justice Sandra Day O'Connor will be at the President's Society annual dinner for major university contributors. O'Connor will also join an afternoon dialogue, which will be open to members of the general public. Nominated by President Ronald Reagan, O'Connor became the Supreme Court's 102nd justice and its first female member in 1981. Former US Senator from Wyoming Alan Simpson extended the invitation for O'Connor to come to Laramie.
Laramie, Wy – A study of medical malpractice insurance in Wyoming over the last 30 years links higher premiums to the economy, not lawsuits. The analysis was conducted by Americans for Insurance Reform, based in New York City. It concludes that the legal system is not to blame for rising premiums that doctors pay for coverage. Instead, the study says rates are influenced by the strength of the national economy or lack thereof, rather than increases or decreases in the amount companies pay in jury awards and settlements.
This week, the Wyoming Arts Council surpassed its goal of raising $100,000 in the 100 Days of Arts campaign. But this should really come as no surprise. In recent years, it seems the Wyoming arts community has enjoyed its own little renaissance. Wyoming Public Radio's Aaron Alpern has more on this unexpectedly rich part of the Cowboy State.
Cody, WY – Air service between Cody and Denver will be restored during the summer thanks to an agreement signed this week. The Cody Yellowstone Air Service Organization signed the deal with United Airlines on Tuesday. The summer-only service will consist of a 50-seat jet that Sky West will operate for United Express and a 37-seat prop plane flown by Mesa. State Senator Hank Coe has led the local effort to restore the Cody to Denver Service. He says this gets them back to where they where they were a few years ago. Cody even had 737 service with Continental in the mid-90's.
Cheyenne, Wy – A Democrat is disagreeing with the Governors approach to the wolf issue. State Senator Jayne Mockler of Cheyenne does not concur with Governor Freudenthal's attempt to fight the federal governments denial of Wyoming's wolf management plan in court. Mockler thinks Wyoming would be better off changing its wolf plan, especially since the state usually has little luck fighting the federal government in court. She thinks they should just make the changes and then implement a liberal hunting policy to address the growing wolf population.
Cheyenne, Wy – The Department of Family Services is hoping to complete an ambitious study. Agency director Roger McDaniel says it could lay out a roadmap for how to improve the lives of children and families in the state. He says that's possible because the study will involve individuals directly affected and the goal is broad. The study got a boost recently when the McMurry Foundation donated 100 thousand dollars to the effort. The legislature will debate a bill that will fund an additional 200 thousand dollars.