WPR News
10:48 am
Mon February 25, 2008

Obama campaign explains caucus process to young Dems

Laramie, WY – Wyoming Democrats are trying to demystify next month's presidential caucuses to potential voters.

The spokesman for the state's Barack Obama campaign, Matt Chandler, visited the University of Wyoming last week and told young democrats that they shouldn't be intimidated by the process.

Some U-W students said the nomination process confused them, but after the meeting said they intended to caucus on March 8.

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WPR News
9:51 am
Mon February 25, 2008

Snow pack strong, but drought far from over

Laramie, WYo – Wyoming's mountains are covered in more snow right now than they have been in recent years. Snow pack in January and February nearly met averages over the last three decades.

But state climatologist Stephen Gray says that doesn't mean the state is emerging from drought. He says most of Wyoming's mountains get the majority of their snow in April and May.

"What's happened in past months is not a very good indicator of what's going to happen during the springtime," Gray says.
"It's really a different ballgame."

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WPR News
8:53 am
Mon February 25, 2008

Snow pack approaching normal levels

Cody, WY – Wyoming's mountain ranges now have more snow on them than they've had in the past several years of drought.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says snowpack averages across Wyoming were 95 percent of the 30-year average during January and early February.

The mountains around the Wind River drainage picked up a good deal of extra snow. Snowpack in those mountain ranges increased from 80 percent of average in early January to 96 percent of average by mid-February.

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WPR News
8:16 am
Mon February 25, 2008

Legislature reconciles budget bills this week

Cheyenne, WY – Both houses of the Wyoming Legislature plan to work this week to reconcile differences in their budget bills.

The state doesn't have much extra money for lawmakers to spend this time around. That means that much of the budget discussion this session has centered on how to allocate the $350 million that the Joint Appropriations Committee has recommended for support of local governments.

The House and the Senate on Friday approved separate distribution plans for the money. They plan to work out the differences this week.

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WPR News
8:10 am
Mon February 25, 2008

Senate turns to tax relief bills this week

Cheyenne, WY – After the house narrowed its list of possible tax relief bills, the Senate will take its shot this week.

The main bill is one that provides a tax break for relatively low income people who have seen their property tax bills increase. Representative Pete Anderson says they are trying to make more people eligible.

On final day of introduction, the house defeated or did not hear some other relief measures, leaving the Senate will few options.

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WPR News
7:42 am
Mon February 25, 2008

Highway fund dies on Senate floor

Laramie, Wyo – An attempt at diverting money into a fund to be used for roads has been defeated in the state Senate.

The bill was intended to earmark a third of the state's severance tax revenue to pay for highway construction. But during final debate, several senators opposed the idea because they did not want the state to return to a system of guaranteeing future money for a specific project.

Senator Tony Ross says that approach has led to difficulties in the past.

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WPR News
7:40 am
Mon February 25, 2008

CBM defeat deals blow to landowners

Laramie, Wyo – The state senate has killed a bill that would have given rights to landowners whose property is flooded or otherwise impacted by water from coal bed methane development.

The controversial bill died on a tie vote, following a lengthy debate. The bill had been heavily amended and Senator Charles Scott of Casper was among those who feared that it tipped the balance too favorably towards landowners.

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WPR News
6:56 am
Mon February 25, 2008

Idaho Makes Dogfighting A Felony

Laramie, WY – Idaho's governor has signed a bill making
running a dogfighting operation in Idaho a felony.

That leaves Wyoming as the last state where such activities are still just a misdemeanor. Wyoming is considering a similar bill to toughen penalties for the practice.

Under Idaho's new law, for-profit dogfighting operations would be punishable by up to five years in jail and $50,000 in fines.

Attending a dogfight as a knowing spectator would be a misdemeanor.

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WPR News
9:41 am
Fri February 22, 2008

DNA bill gets preliminary approval

Cheyenne, WY – Wyoming could be among the states that allow inmates to take DNA tests to prove their innocence.

The state senate gave preliminary approval to the bill and it will be heard two more times. Senator Tony Ross presented the bill and sees it as a benefit to inmates as well as police.

Senators eliminated a part of the bill that would have allowed law enforcement to take the DNA who are not yet named suspects in the crime. Law enforcement wanted that part of the law, so they could narrow a list of suspects.

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WPR News
9:38 am
Fri February 22, 2008

House gives preliminary approval to helium tax

Cheyenne, WY – The House gave preliminary approval to the
bill that would tax oil and gas companies for helium extraction on Thursday.
The taxes would bring in more than $2 million in annual tax revenue.
Ed Schmidt is director of the Wyoming Department of Revenue. He says extraction of the helium should be taxed by the state. He says it is the only mineral commodity Wyoming does not currently tax.
The bill would allow the state to tax helium extracted from the ground the same rate as other Wyoming minerals.

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