Cheyenne, Wy – The House and Senate finally agreed to a budget and it now heads to the Governor. Among the highlights are 33 million new dollars for local government, money for a 16 hundred dollar pay raise for all full time education employees, and 76 million for a new prison in Torrington. One thing that was not funded was money for retiree health insurance. Committee members say they will have a study this year and will probably look to address the matter during next year's budget session.
Laramie, Wy – Governor Dave Freudenthal spoke in Washington, D-C Monday about reforming the Endangered Species Act. One suggestion he made is for states to have some say in the scientists that review policy proposals. Right now the federal government names the scientists alone. Freudenthal says some scientists have predispositions towards habitats and others towards statistics. He says he guesses that if more people were involved in appointing scietists those predispositions could be balanced out.
Cheyenne, Wy – State retirees got some bad news Friday from the state legislature, while teachers will get a pay hike under a compromise reached during budget negotiations. Wyoming retirees hopes for an extra 200-dollars a month for health insurance was deflated following a lengthy discussion in the joint budget conference committee. Committee member John Schiffer called it a difficult vote, but it kept coming down to one thing, people in the private sector are facing the same problem but don't get any help from this proposal.
Cheyenne, Wy – The Wyoming House of Representatives has put some money into the wildlife trust fund bill. During the second day of discussion on the bill Speaker of the House Randall Luthi convinced the House to use money from federal coal sales to put 15 million dollars into the trust fund. Opponents worried that they were funding the trust fund on the backs of the minerals industry. The House did vote down an attempt to increase the amount of money that can be given to organizations to enhance wildlife habitat. Currently there is a 200 thousand dollar a year cap.
Cheyenne, Wy – Another day, and more changes to the proposed medical review panel. So far Wyoming Senators continue to think that the panel should be a simple review of medical malpractice cases and not something more rigorous. The Senate adopted a substitute bill that turns it into a three member panel, including someone from the medical community, a lawyer and a layperson. Senator Kit Jennings of Casper backs this plan and says makes the panel smaller, more streamlined and does not make citizens amateur judges.
Laramie, Wy – The only person that has ever been the head of both the C-I-A and the F-B-I was on the University of Wyoming campus Friday. William Webster has stayed involved in the intelligence field and says there is an effort between the two agencies to share information. He says one barrier is that the F-B-I uses a main frame for its computers that is 13 years old. He says the F-B-I wants to share information they just have trouble getting what the C-I-A needs and delivering in a timely manner.
Cheyenne – Senators will try again to vote on a Medical Review Panel bill after a substitute bill was soundly defeated. The bill was trying to make it more difficult for medical malpractice cases to be heard in court. But Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck reports that the standard was too high for the majority of the senate
Laramie, Wy – The University of Wyoming will consider requiring meningitis vaccinations for students living in the dorms. The director of Student Health Service, Joanne Steane, says they already recommend students get the shot and they are available on campus. She says they will consider making it a requirement because the Centers for Disease Control put out a stronger recommendation that college freshmen living in dorms receive the vaccine. Steane says the risk of contracting meningitis is higher for students that live in dormitories.
Cheyenne, Wy – The idea of creating a wildlife trust fund was debated for the first time in the state House, but the fund still has no money. Representatives voted to remove the 30 million dollars that the Senate added to the fund. Some lawmakers also wondered if the House version of the bill should be defeated since it differed so much from the Senate version. House Speaker Randall Luthi argued against that idea. Luthi thinks the House version of the bill has broader support then what the Senate passed. The bill moves to second reading.