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Legislative
6:13 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Senate Approves Game And Fish Funding

The State Senate approved additional funding for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department, but not without discussion.

The bill provides $14 million for the department to pay for health insurance and grizzly management.   It’s intended to address financial issues within the Department, after a hunting license fee increase was defeated last year. 

Senator Phil Nicholas says the fee hike was defeated because the Game and Fish has incurred the wrath of those who pay the fees.

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Legislative
5:21 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Energy Items Considered In State Budget Bill

Credit creative commons

Wyoming lawmakers are voting on the state budget this week and are considering proposals to strengthen the energy industry in the state.

15 million dollars is proposed for a facility to study the capture, sequestration, and management of carbon emissions from a coal fired power plant.  Senator Jim Anderson of Glenrock says it’s important to the future of Wyoming Coal.

“Perhaps bring Wyoming into a new era and it would certainly in regard to our reliance on coal and other things that are carbon based be a blessing if in fact we could do this.”

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Legislative
4:28 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Committee Votes To Let Lawmakers Work On Hill Bill

Credit Cindy Hill Superintendent

The Wyoming Senate Rules Committee has passed a bill that would let a group of legislators work on amending the bill that took away the bulk of powers from the Superintendent of Public Instruction.

The Supreme Court declared the so-called Hill bill unconstitutional, and now the legislature must fix it.

Cheri Steinmetz with the Independent Cattlemen of Wyoming testified against the bill, saying it's time the legislature stopped wasting money on the issue. But Senator Chris Rothfuss says the bill is necessary to resolve the management of the state's public school system.

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News
3:50 pm
Tue February 18, 2014

Huge Avalanches Hit Western States

The Bull of the Woods Class 5 slide on Sunday took out 150-year-old trees.
Credit Bridger-Teton Avalanche Center

The Rocky Mountain states have experienced avalanche activity in recent weeks that forecasters are calling ‘historic.’

Wyoming experienced some of its largest avalanches in decades. "These are thirty, fifty, maybe a hundred year events," says Bridger Teton Avalanche Center director Bob Comey.

The spate of slides culminated this weekend, with avalanches burying several roads and popular trails in the Jackson area.

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Wyoming Stories
10:48 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Wyoming Stories: Running The Snowy Range Ski Area Is A Family Affair

Aaron and Becky Maddox, with their infant son Charlie.
Credit Andy Carpenean/Laramie Boomerang

Becky and Aaron Maddox own the Snowy Range Ski Area west of Laramie.  Becky is a fourth generation Laramie resident, and Aaron grew up in Steamboat Springs. 

The couple grew up skiing, and their love for the sport motivated them to invest their lives in Snowy Range.  Becky and Aaron describe how the ski area is not only their business, but is their passion, their family, and their life.

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News
7:13 am
Tue February 18, 2014

Mining Association Director Says Coal's Future Is Bright

Wyoming Mining Association Executive Director Marion Loomis says coal’s future is bright -- but that there’s a need for continued innovation -- both in extraction technology and emissions control.

“We’ve made such tremendous strides in reducing emission levels. We’ve increased coal production about 170 percent in this country in the last 20 years and reduced pollutants by over 85 percent,” says Loomis.

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Legislative
6:56 am
Tue February 18, 2014

House To Consider Common Core Bill

The Wyoming House will consider a bill that would create a committee of educators and parents to determine if the state should continue to use Common Core State standards in K-12 education.  The bill would also develop new student assessment options.  Several teachers, the school board members, and a business leader spoke on behalf of the common core.  Bill Shilling of the Wyoming Business Alliance says that the bill doesn’t help.

“I don’t see in this legislation any advancement in the end product for our students,” says Shilling.

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Legislative
4:45 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

Petroleum Association Says It Supports Bonding Increase

The Senate Minerals Committee approved a bill Monday that would increase the amount of money oil and gas operators have to put up before accessing split estate properties.

A split estate is when a private landowner owns the surface land and not the mineral rights. The bill raises the minimum bonding amount from $2,000 to $10,000. The bond covers any damages to the property from development, when a surface use agreement can’t be negotiated.

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Legislative
2:36 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

House Passes Bill To Put Cameras On School Buses

The Wyoming House of Representatives has approved a bill that would require school buses in the state to carry video cameras on the outside.

The cameras would help catch motorists who illegally drive by stopped buses, also known as fly-by's.  Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau opposed the bill, saying that using cameras to spy on people would make him uncomfortable.  Other opponents complained that it should be a local control issue and not something that the state should mandate.

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Topic of the Week
2:18 pm
Mon February 17, 2014

What are your thoughts on Medicaid expansion in Wyoming?

What are your thoughts on Medicaid expansion in Wyoming?

WPM/NPR Community Discussion Rules

News
8:01 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Cardboard Recycling For Laramie Businesses Will End In May

ARK Regional Services will be shutting down their recycling program in Laramie in May, and that could leave a lot of local businesses with a big cardboard problem on their hands.  Big Hollow Food Coop Manager, Marla Peterson, estimates that they fill the ARK recycling dumpster twice a week with cardboard.  She says there’s no way the city’s smaller curbside bins could handle that kind of volume. 

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News
7:54 am
Mon February 17, 2014

Study Finds Forest Growth Dictated By Bedrock, Not Just Climate

A study by UW scientists finds that bedrock plays as big of a role as climate in determining how much vegetation grows in an area.

Bedrock is the layer of rock beneath the soil.

Lead author Jesse Hahm says he did the research because he was puzzled by the patchiness of forest cover.

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News
5:21 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Wyoming Youth Fishing Challenge Growing In Popularity

The Game and Fish Department says its Youth Fishing Challenge program is growing quickly and gaining popularity statewide.

The program sets up goals for kids to expand their fishing skills.  Challenges center on catching native species of fish and learning about types of habitat. 

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Legislative
4:23 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Senate Agrees To Debate Medicaid Expansion Bill

After defeating a series of Medicaid expansion bills earlier this week, the Wyoming Senate voted to introduce a compromise measure.

Laramie Democrat Chris Rothfuss is the sponsor.  The bill would enable the state to expand Medicaid for one year, during which time it could ask the federal government for the ability to devise its own expansion plan for the next three years.

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Legislative
4:21 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

State Senate Begins Debate On Suicide Prevention Bill

The Wyoming Senate has given initial approval to a bill that would require each teacher and school administrator to undergo eight hours of suicide training every four years.  Wyoming has one of the nation’s highest rates of suicide, and Senate Education Chairman Hank Coe says they want school officials to look for possible signs in an effort to prevent suicide.

“It is a serious problem," Coe said. "If we can go out with something like this and recognize a couple of…I mean just one…prevent one and its worthwhile.

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Open Spaces
4:16 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Medicaid Expansion Faces Challenges In Wyoming

Chris Rothfuss in the Wyoming Senate.
Credit Bob Beck

For over a decade the state has struggled with making sure all citizens had access to health care.  Much of this had to do with the fact that many Wyoming citizens can’t afford health insurance.  The federal affordable care act was supposed to help.

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Open Spaces
4:12 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Bill Rekindles Debate Over Split Estate

Senator Jim D Anderson

There’s a fight brewing in Wyoming over the rights of landowners who don’t own the minerals below their properties. In 2005, the legislature passed a Split Estate law, but now, one lawmaker is saying it may be time to revisit the issue, in light of changes in drilling technology and intensity.

Senator Jim Anderson introduced a bill this week that would increase bonding on split-estate properties. Wyoming Public Radio energy reporter Stephanie Joyce joins us to discuss the bill, and its implications.

WILLOW BELDEN: So, what does this bill do?

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Open Spaces
4:06 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

New Grand Teton Superintendent Says Collaboration Is Key

The National Park Service named a new superintendent for Grand Teton National Park this week. David Vela will replace former superintendent Mary Gibson Scott, who retired last year.

Vela is currently an associate director for the Park Service in Washington DC. He has worked at parks and historic sites in Texas, Virginia, and Pennsylvania and directed the Park Service’s southeast region for four years. He says one of his goals is to listen to visitor feedback.

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News
4:04 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

WY Appeals EPA Decision On Wind River Borders

Wyoming has filed an appeal in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for the Environmental Protection Agency decision that drew the borders of the Wind River Indian Reservation to include Riverton.

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Open Spaces
4:02 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Author Discusses What He’s Learned Raising Bear Cubs

Author Ben Kilham has studied black bears for decades and has also raised orphan bear cubs. His new book is called “Out on a Limb: What Black Bears Have Taught Me about Intelligence and Intuition.” He spoke with Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck, and said his interest in bears came by accident.

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Open Spaces
3:58 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Negotiation Vs. Litigation: A Look At The Reservation Borders Decision

The governments of Riverton, Fremont County, the state, and of the two tribes who share the Wind River Indian Reservation are arguing, again, over the reservation’s borders.

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Open Spaces
3:49 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

Marion Loomis Reflects On 40 Years As Mining Lobbyist

Marion Loomis has been with the Wyoming Mining Association, one of the state’s most influential interest groups, for almost 40 years. Earlier this week, he announced that he would be retiring that post in April. Wyoming Public Radio’s Stephanie Joyce caught up with Loomis at the Capitol to discuss his career and what the future holds for the state’s mining industry.

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Open Spaces
3:00 pm
Fri February 14, 2014

12-Year-Old Piano Prodigy Competes In Paris

James Wilson in recital at the University of Wyoming in 2012.
Credit AP Photo/Casper Star-Tribune, Dan Cepeda

12-year-old Laramie pianist James Wilson was one of only two Americans to compete in the prestigious Lagny-sur-Marne piano competition in Paris last month.

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News
8:53 am
Fri February 14, 2014

Coal Export Review To Include Powder River Basin

Port facilities that would export Powder River Basin coal through the Pacific Northwest are continuing to move towards construction.

In separate decisions this week, Washington and Oregon both announced progress on permitting for coal export terminals in their respective states.

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Legislative
6:21 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Bill To Take Back Federal Lands Moves Forward

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.

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Legislative
6:14 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Legislature Defeats Another Medicaid Expansion Bill

The Wyoming House of Representatives failed to introduce the second of two committee-sponsored Medicaid Expansion bills, essentially ending the chance that lawmakers will approve an expansion this session.

The bill was based on the Medicaid fit program that was created by the Wyoming Department of Health. Cheyenne Republican Sue Wilson urged the House to debate it.

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Legislative
6:10 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Wyoming House Debates Gun Bills

The Wyoming House of Representatives failed to introduce a bill that would have lifted restrictions on carrying guns in school zones, while agreeing to introduce another bill that would leave it up to school districts to decide whether employees with a concealed carry permit can have guns in schools.

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Legislative
5:58 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Senate Defeats And Reconsiders Hill Legislation

Credit Cindy Hill Superintendent

The Wyoming Senate reconsidered and passed a bill that would set up a special committee to review the recent Supreme Court decision about Superintendent Cindy Hill.

The court ruled that removing Hill's responsibility to run the Department of Education was unconstitutional. The committee would be tasked with coming up with legislation to respond to the ruling, possibly in a special legislative session.  

The Senate at first rejected the bill, but reconsidered after lunch and passed it.  Senator Chris Rothfuss says that some education took place during the lunch break.

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News
5:14 pm
Thu February 13, 2014

Pine Beetle Spread Slows Dramatically

The spread of mountain pine beetles is slowing in Wyoming, according to a survey from the U.S. Forest Service.

Beetles killed 180,000 new acres of trees in 2012, but only 82,000 acres in 2013.

The Forest Service’s Aaron Voos says it’s not surprising.

“They’ve kind of eaten themselves out of house and home,” Voos said. “All of the trees that were susceptible to attack … have been either eaten and are now dead and dying, or they were able to fend off the epidemic and have developed some sort of resiliency.”

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