Cheyenne, WY – Three consumer groups are opposing an electric rate increase proposed by Pacificorp. The power company wants to raise electric rates in Wyoming by nearly 42 million dollars a year. Pacificorp says it needs the increase because its risks have gone up over the past few years. But the Wyoming Industrial Energy Consumers, The state Consumer Advocates Office and A-A-R-P all argued that Pacificorp was seeking an unreasonably high rate of return. The Wyoming Public Service Commission is scheduled to hold hearings on the increase beginning January 26th.
Cheyenne, Wy – Deputy Attorney General Mike O'Donnell believes school funding is at a point to satisfy the Supreme Court. He says the legislature has taken a variety of steps to address school funding and more will be considered this session concerning small schools and funding for teachers. He thinks the Supreme Court will be satisfied with the states efforts.
Powell, Wy – One of the original members of the Wyoming Business Council has resigned from the panel. Mike Petera of Powell saying state government does not do enough to help high technology businesses grow. Petera owns VoiceViewer Technologies, a company that manufactures handheld wireless communication products. Petera cited his attempt to get state help in providing his handheld wireless communication products to law enforcement agencies for homeland security.
Cheyenne, WY – The number of confirmed influenza cases in Wyoming so far this fall has more than doubled in the past week. Wyoming Department of Health officials say there are 458 confirmed cases of the flu in the state. State Health Officer Dr. Brent Sherard says the flu season has arrived at least two and a half months early this year. He says everyone should consider getting the flu vaccine. By far the most cases have been in Laramie county, where 217 people have come down with the flu.
Cheyenne, Wy – The Governor's proposed budget puts 3 million more into job training. Many business leaders in the state are praising the two million dollar increase. Wyoming Contractors Association Director Charlie Ware says it is important because the state will soon need an increase of construction workers and other specialized employees. Officials also say it will be important to have training money in business recuitment.
Cheyenne, WY – The scientific reviews are in, and it looks like Wyoming's wolf management plan is acceptable. The US Fish and Wildlife Service still holds the final decision on approving the plan, but these so-called peer reviews should help the state's efforts to remove the wolf from the endangered species list. But while the Wyoming plan was acceptable to the reviewers, Wyoming Public Radio's Aaron Alpern reports they were hardly in love with it.
Sheridan, Wy – Bighorn County Commissioners and others are concerned about an expansion of the Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark. The Big Horn National Forest is looking at expanding the 110 site into a 23 thousand acre Medicine Mountain. Forest Supervisor Bill Bass says they would still manage for multiple use in the area. It just one of the forest alternatives being considered.
Cheyenne, WY – Governor Dave Freudenthal gave the state Environmental Quality Council the green light Tuesday to explore possible changes in state law to address disputes between landowners and those who hold mineral rights to the land. More than 11 million acres in Wyoming have divided ownership, known as split estates. The council wanted to guage Freudenthal's feelings before it examined switching oil and gas permitting regulations from the control of the Oil and Gas Conservation Commission to the Environmental Quality Council, which now handles disputes over mining permits.
Aaron Alpern reports on the Wyoming Wolf Management plan and the final decision of the US Fish and Wildlife Service
Chad Pergram reports on the decision of the Energy Bill on Capital Hill
Proposal to change the name of the north-central Wyoming Medicine Wheel National Historic Landmark has caused concern among Big Horn County Commissioners; Guest: Bill Bass, Big Horn National Forest Supervisor
Salt Lake City, UT – A Wyoming child has died from influenza at a Salt Lake City hospital. Utah health officials still don't know whether there were other factors involved with the child's death. An official at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City declined to release specific information about the patient. But spokesman Bill Barnes say the child was flown to the hospital before the weekend with flu and other medical complications and died Sunday.
Laramie, Wy – The head of Wyoming's office of Consumer advocate is hopeful that congress can revive the energy bill. Bryce Freeman says it would be good news for consumers and would increase production, which in turn would keep heating costs and other energy prices in check. "We are probably not going to be able to conserve ourselves out of a production problem" says Freeman. He says the last 4 or 5 years has led to increased consumer demands for such things as electricity. Freeman says more development is needed to help address the issue.
Laramie, WY – There were more people working agricultural jobs last month in Wyoming, Idaho and Montana when compared to 2002. The Wyoming Agricultural Statisics Service says the number of those working on farms and ranches was up ten percent. This comes at a time when nationally, there are a decreasing amount of agricultural jobs. Statistician Kim Faircloth says the number of farms and ranches in the state are holding steady. And she says that usually has a direct correlation to the workforce.
Laramie, Wy – Wyoming's Legislature will get a chance to vote on a very controversial subject this February. The joint health committee approved two constitutional amendments this week. One of them could open the door for putting a cap on medical malpractice lawsuits.
Laramie, Wy – The rash of wildlife poaching cases is not slowing down. The most recent saw a deer shot and left to die on the Western Wyoming Community College campus. Six poaching cases in Yellowstone have been reported over the last six months. Wyoming Game and Fish is offering a reward for information of killing three bull mouse south of Mountain View. The Game Warden Rich King sees a link to the growing interest in trophy-class animals over the last decade.
Cheyenne, WY – The Wyoming Army National Guard's 115th Field Artillery Brigade was ordered Monday to activate 65 of its 109 soldiers for Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit will report to headquarters in Cheyenne January 3rd and to Fort Carson, Colorado three days later for pre-development training. Guard officials say the soldiers initially will be on active duty for 545 days, although the period can be amended based on the Army's requirements. The 115th Field Artillery Brigade's mission is to provide support of field artillery units.
Rawlins, WY – The U-S Bureau of Land Management says it has rounded up more than 1,300 wild horses from southwestern Wyoming this fall. The roundups were conducted in October and November. They're part of the B-L-M's continuing effort to cut Wyoming's wild horse population in half in order to fulfill an agreement with the state. The horses were gathered from areas in the agency's Rock Springs, Rawlins and Lander field office. Officials say the latest roundups will reduce Wyoming's wild horse population to a more appropriate level of around 3,200 horses.
Cheyenne, Wy – Wyoming's Attorney General says state officials are generally pleased with scientific peer reviews done on Wyoming's wolf management plan. Pat Crank says more study is needed, but so far it looks like the biology and science are both sound. Crank is worried that Washington will interfere with the process. He says a quick ruling will allow the legislature to fix any problems in Wyoming's plan.
Cody, WY – The Cody Stampede is in the running to become part of the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association tour. Board President Ron Meeker says a decision will be made soon. If chosen as a tour event, Meeker says the rodeo could be televised nationally several times a year. Meanwhile, the Stampede has been nominated as the P-R-C-A's Large Outdoor Rodeo of the Year for the fifth time in six years. To qualify, a rodeo must award at least 15 thousand dollars in added money for each event. Meeker says the Stampede awarded 23 thousand dollars in added money this year.
Laramie, Wy – A day after the Governor released his state budget, Speaker of the House Fred Parady says the Governor did not save enough. The house would like to set aside around 300 million of the surplus. But Governor Dave Freudenthal says the state has too many current needs that makes that type of saving not realistic. But Speaker Parady thinks the Governors spending could force the state into tax increases. The Governor will next take his budget before the appropriations committee next week.
Jackson, WY – Disagreements continue over plans to widen U-S Highway 26-287 over Togwotee Pass between Jackson and Dubois. Business and conservation groups are both against plans to lower the speed limit from 65 miles an hour to 55, but for different reasons. Business groups say the lower speed limit will discourage truckers from using the highway and hurt local economies. Environmental groups say that although the speed limit will be lowered, plans to straighten curves and add passing lanes will only encourage faster driving and increase the risk to wildlife from collisions.
Laramie, Wy – Speaker of the House Fred Parady thinks the Governor wants to spend too much General Fund Money on building projects. In fact, Parady thinks the Governor's overall budget is too high and could force the state into tax hikes. While Parady actually supports a lot of the capital construction projects the Governor is proposing, he thinks there are different ways to pay for them. He would like to save more money then the Governor is proposing and Parady suspects that will be part of the debate during the budget session.
Laramie, Wy – Wyoming's flu numbers are growing at an alarming rate. The state has confirmed 343 cases of the flu and the outbreak is all across the state. Health Officer Dr. Brent Sherard says the flu numbers are well above this time last year. He is urging everyone to get a flu shot, noting that the flu can be fatal.
Laramie, WY – The U-S Fish and Wildlife Service is investigating the deaths of four wolves in western Wyoming. One found near Daniel is already considered a human-caused death, while investigators are awaiting lab results on how three other wolves near Cody died. It's been two years since Wyoming has had an illegal killing of a wolf. U-S-F-W-S Law Enforcement Agent in Charge of Wyoming Dominic Domenici says these cases do raise alarms. Domenici says officials do expect a few more human-caused wolf fatalities as the population grows.
Cheyenne, WY – A town meeting is scheduled today in Cheyenne to discuss the potential impact of the federal No Child Left Behind Act. Senator Mike Enzi will join Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Trent Blankenship and U-S Department of Education officials at the meeting. Blankenship and the other officials will explain what the federal education reforms mean and take questions from audience members. No Child Left Behind requires all students to be proficient in reading and math within the next 12 years.
Laramie, WY – A Wyoming Highway Patrol official disputes a new study indicating higher interstate speed limits cause more fatalities. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety claims states that increased speed limits to 75 miles per hour on interstates saw 40 percent more deaths. Wyoming Highway Patrol spokesman Sergeant Steve Townsend says he didn't notice a big increase in accidents or behavior after the state's speed limit increased in 1995.
Helena, MT – The scientific review of Wyoming's proposed wolf management plan is complete and those comments have been sent back to the state. Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho all need to have plans approved by the US Fish and Wildlife Service for the wolf to be removed from the endangered species list. Federal Wolf Recovery Coordinator, Ed Bangs, says not surprisingly, the reviewers zeroed in on three big issues in the states' plans. 1) All three states say federal money is needed to pay for management.
Cheyenne, WY – A new report suggests a proposal for regional and small school adjustments may cost an additional 38 million dollars. The adjustments would be in addition to the base cost of 719 million dollars to finance the state's 48 school districts in the 2005-2006 school year. Natrona county is the biggest winner under the new estimates, gaining nearly seven million dollars more in funding. Teton county is among four districts that would lose money.