Bob Beck

News Director

Phone: 307-766-6626
Email: btwo@uwyo.edu 

Bob Beck has been News Director of Wyoming Public Radio since 1988.  During his time as News Director WPR has won 76 national, regional and state news awards.  Bob has received the WEA School Bell Award for education reporting and was honored by the Governor’s Council on Impaired Driving for his reporting.  He has covered the Wyoming Legislature longer than any broadcaster in the state.  He is a frequent political guest and host on Wyoming PBS.   

Bob also taught broadcast news at the University of Wyoming for 20 years and his 1998 television reporting class won a regional Emmy for reporting excellence.  He also was twice given a Top Prof award by the UW Mortar Board.   Bob is also active in community events and co-chaired the 2009 Albany County United Way Campaign with his wife Debra. 

Prior to coming to WPR, Bob worked as a News and Sportscaster at stations in Wyoming and Illinois.  He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Radio-Television from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and is a native of Wheaton, Illinois in suburban Chicago.  When he is not working he is running, mountain biking, walking his dog or cheering on his beloved Packers, Bulls, Blackhawks, Cubs and Salukis.

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News
5:57 pm
Wed February 6, 2013

Lawmakers want to look into possible spending irregularities at the Department of Education

Credit Wyoming Department of Education

After hearing from whistleblowers and attorneys that there may have been irregularities in spending within the State Department of Education, the Wyoming House of Representatives has set aside money to perform a whistleblower audit of the department. 

Speaker of the House Tom Lubnau says Superintendent Cindy Hill has denied that money was spent improperly, but he says the legislature is obligated to determine if there is any truth to the charges and the House will ask for a complete audit.       

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News
1:03 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Transition to new Education Director is underway

Governor Matt Mead says he has met with employees at the State Department of Education and members of the State Board of Education to make sure there will be a smooth transition as they hire a Wyoming Education Director. 

The Legislature stripped many of State Superintendent Cindy Hill’s powers, and she has been relocated to an office a block away from the Department of Education.

Mead said the State Board of Education will submit three names for the governor to consider for Director. He adds that it will be an open search.

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News
12:59 pm
Tue February 5, 2013

Governor Mead expresses concerns about gun bills

While Wyoming Governor Matt Mead favors gun rights, he said that he is very concerned about a couple of gun rights bills making their way through the legislature. 

One bill would allow school employees, parents of a student or their guardian, who hold a concealed weapon permit, to have guns in schools.  Mead said that there are better ways to ensure school safety and he wants the state to look closer at those solutions.

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Game and Fish Funding
6:16 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Game and Fish license fee increase is defeated

The Wyoming House soundly defeated a bill that would have raised many hunting license fees. 

The Wyoming Department of Game and Fish said that the increases were needed to pay for budget shortfalls.  Laramie Democrat Cathy Connolly said the Game and Fish Department has been asked to take over management of a number of non-game and endangered species and that has driven up costs. 

But Jackson Republican Keith Gingery said that in 2005 the Department promised to study the issue and see if there was a solution.  Gingery said that never happened.

          

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Roads
6:14 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Senate votes down an effort to divert money for roads

Sheridan Sen. Bruce Burns

The State Senate has defeated a bill that would take money from the Permanent Mineral Trust Fund to maintain and construct roads.

It would divert over 57 million dollars in fiscal year 2014 that would have flowed into the PMTF.  When combined with a ten cent increase in the gas tax, it would raise nearly 72-million dollars.  Senator Stan Cooper says it would help the state catch up with its road maintenance needs and provide more substantial funding.
 

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News
2:56 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

Wyoming legislature begins budget work

State lawmakers have started reviewing the proposed supplemental state budget.  The budget features an average of six and a half percent cuts and limits new spending.

House Appropriations Chairman Steve Harshman says the legislature will have some money that can be added to the budget if needed.             

“So after accounting for other bills with appropriations in them, today there is 13 million dollars on the table for saving or spending.  And the smallest supplemental budget in a decade…in ten years…in terms of expenditures.”

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Lottery
12:21 pm
Mon February 4, 2013

House passes bill to allow Wyoming to join a multi-state lottery

Wyoming House passes bill to create state lottery

Despite concerns that a lottery would be a regressive tax, the State House of Representatives passed a bill that would allow Wyoming to join a multi-state Powerball Lottery. 

It establishes a quasi-corporation that would be tasked with making the lottery profitable.  Several lawmakers near border states say that Wyoming is losing money as residents cross state lines to buy lottery tickets. 

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News
5:56 pm
Fri February 1, 2013

Slew of gun bills pass in the WY House

The Wyoming House of Representatives has passed a series of gun rights bills. The House amended one bill that will allow guns in schools, allowing not only full-time school personnel to carry concealed firearms but parents and guardians, well. Everyone must have a concealed carry permit. Evansville Rep. Kendall Kroeker says it's a good day.

"One this that we've seen that has been the case with 100% of the shooting that have taken place on school campuses is that every single one of them was in a gun free zone," said Kroeker.

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News
5:31 am
Fri February 1, 2013

Senate passes seismic exploration bill

The Wyoming Senate defeated a bill dealing with seismic exploration, reconsidered it, and then passed it. 

Supporters say that the goal of the legislation is to set tiered bonding for seismic exploration. 

Wyoming Stockgrowers Association Executive Vice President Jim Magagna says the bonding will be based on the size of the acreage being accessed.   He says that the bill was amended to say that when seismic

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News
5:55 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

WY Senate defeats bill prohibiting discrimination based on sexual orientation

Credit Wyoming State Capitol

The State Senate defeated a bill that would have prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.  It would have given gays and lesbians protections in the workplace.  Opponents said it could have led to unfair burdens on employers and infringe on religious freedoms.  Senator Chris Rothfuss says he’s sorry that the bill would be inconvenient for certain employers, but he added that was the point.  But Baggs Senator Larry Hicks says the legislation would do little.                    

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News
5:22 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

WY House works on language for bill about concealed gun carry in schools

The Wyoming House of Representatives continues working on a bill that would allow concealed weapons in Wyoming schools and colleges.  It would only apply to people who have permits to carry concealed guns.  Casper Representative Steve Harshman successfully amended the bill to say that only permanent employees of a school district who hold a concealed carry permit may carry a concealed firearm within a school district building and they must notify administrators.  The amendment also made it clear that K-12 students shall not carry concealed firearms.  The district superintendent will also in

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News
5:13 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

WY House passes bill to keep UW President search secret

The Wyoming House of Representatives has given final approval to a bill that would let the University of Wyoming and Community Colleges keep their candidates for president secret.  House Majority Floor Leader Kermit Brown says that releasing names of finalists will compromise candidates who have jobs on other campuses.

“You’ve got people in similar positions where they are and they want to make discreet applications, but they don’t want to totally wreck their situation back home if they are not selected.  And that’s where the rub comes,” says Brown.

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News
5:01 pm
Thu January 31, 2013

Medicaid expansion defeated in the WY Senate

The State Senate has soundly defeated a bill that would have led to the state expanding Medicaid Services for nearly 30 thousand more Wyoming residents.  States can opt to expand the services under the Affordable Care Act and the federal government will pay the total cost for the first 36 months of the expansion starting in 2014.  Senator John Schiffer of Kaycee says Medicaid costs have hurt the state, but if the state expands, it means the federal government will pay for services that Wyoming currently pays for.  He says that is a good deal.

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News
6:47 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

Wyoming House votes to approve a series of gun bills.

Credit Bob Beck


The Wyoming House of Representatives has given initial approval to four bills that would address gun rights in the state. Among the bills is a measure that would attempt to block a federal gun bill banning  semi-automatic weapons and limiting the size of gun magazines.  Sponsor Kendall Kroeker of Evansville says this would apply to guns in Wyoming.

“Because of that I believe there is no federal authority in the Constitution to give the federal government the ability to ban such weapons or place restrictions upon them.”

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News
6:26 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

WY House defeats bill to establish domestic partnerships

The WY House of Representatives during the vote on the defeated domestic partnership bill.
Credit Bob Beck

After a passionate debate, the Wyoming House of Representatives defeated a bill that would have allowed adults to enter into a domestic partnership.  Supporters of the measure say that the legal agreement would have given all non-married couples a legal contract that would provide them with a range of legal tools to use in health care situations and in cases of a partner's death.  But others strongly opposed the measure.  Thermopolis Republican Nathan Winters says it’s clear what the bill is trying to do.

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News
2:25 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

House approves Hathaway changes

The Wyoming House of Representatives voted to approve a bill that adds two years of Fine and Performing Arts or Career-Vocational education to the requirements of those seeking the Hathaway scholarship.

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University of Wyoming
6:25 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Wyoming House supports allowing university, college president searches to remain confidential

The Wyoming House of Representatives has given initial approval to a bill that would allow the University of Wyoming and community colleges in the state to keep presidential searches secret. 

Media groups have sued to require UW to make its presidential finalists public as UW tries to find a replacement for the retiring President Tom Buchanan. 

Supporters including Cheyenne Democrat Jim Byrd say that it gives the University the best chance to get a quality president because competitive candidates would not be compromising their current positions.

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Guns
6:15 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

House Judiciary Committee supports gun rights bills

Some Wyoming legislators are working to thwart anticipated federal efforts to ban semi-automatic weapons or limit the size of gun magazines with the state’s boundaries.  They also support allowing concealed firearms in government buildings and schools.

The House Judiciary Committee approved the bill that prevents such laws, and also says that anyone trying to enforce a federal gun ban in Wyoming could face felony charges. 

Wyoming Gun Owners Association Director Anthony Bouchard told the committee that the time is right for such legislation.

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Superintendent
5:43 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Gov. Mead strips power from State Superintendent, Hill sues

  Governor Matt Mead has signed into law a bill that strips powers from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. In turn Superintendent Cindy Hill has filed suit, claiming that the new law is unconstitutional. 

Mead also announced that Community College Director Jim Rose will serve as the interim Director of Education. 

Mead said he did a lot of soul-searching before agreeing to sign the bill.

“I don’t think anybody would view this as a celebration, I think we would view it as a duty we must go forward on for the kids in Wyoming,” Mead says.

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News
7:05 am
Tue January 29, 2013

House committee defeats anti-abortion bill

A Wyoming House committee has voted to defeat a bill that would have made it felony for an abortion to be performed after an embryo or fetus has a heartbeat.  

Representative Sue Wallis of Recluse testified that she’s had an abortion and it is nobody’s business but hers.

"Thank God this travesty of state-sponsored intrusion into my difficult decision at that time was not in place," Wallis said. "And I pray that it’s not foisted on my daughters or granddaughters."

But Representative Mark Baker of Rock Springs says that’s what the legislature is supposed to do.

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civil union
5:54 pm
Mon January 28, 2013

House committee approves bill that would allow civil unions for same-sex couples

A Wyoming House committee passed a bill that would allow civil unions for same-sex couples.

A Wyoming legislative committee has approved a bill that would allow civil unions between same sex couples in the state on a 7 to 2 vote.  The Committee voted down a bill that would have legalized gay marriage on a 5 to 4 vote. 

The Civil Unions bill passed despite some strong opposition.  Cheyenne Representative Lynn Hutchings urged the committee not to consider either bill a matter of civil rights.  She testified that as an African American she is offended by such comparisons. 

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News
11:53 am
Mon January 28, 2013

Committee approves cigarette tax hike

A House committee has approved a bill that would raise the cigarette tax by five-cents-per-cigarette and a dollar a pack.  Republican Representative Gerald Gay of Casper is the main sponsor.  He says money from the increase will help offset rising Medicaid costs.

“And tobacco is related to that because tobacco has such a profound impact on health care," Gay said. "So we figured out a way to sort of frontload  health care costs against one of the biggest health care users that there is.”

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Hunting
4:51 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

House committee defeats hunting license fee hike

Credit Wyoming Game and Fish Department

A bill that would have increased hunting license fees by nearly 20-percent was defeated by a Wyoming House committee that wants further study of the proposal. 

The Wyoming Game and Fish Department says the money is needed to address a revenue shortfall and would have raised about eight million dollars a year by 2016.  But some challenged the need for the increase. 

Bob Wharff of the group Wyoming Sportsmen for Fish and Wildlife says he feared that the increase would drive away hunters, especially those from out-of-state.

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Superintendent
4:45 pm
Fri January 25, 2013

House votes to remove duties from State Superintendent

Members of the gallery watch the superintendent debate.
Credit Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

After two weeks of discussion, the Wyoming Legislature has voted to remove some duties from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction.  The legislation awaits the signature of Governor Matt Mead. 

The bill would hand over administration of the State Department of Education to a Governor appointed Director of Education. 

Opponents of the bill once again complained that they were going against voters who supported the election of Superintendent Cindy Hill by a two-to-one margin. 

Rock Springs Republican Stephen Watt again asked the House to slow down.

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Medicaid
5:24 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Medicaid overhaul bill passes the Senate

Wyoming Sen. Charles Scott

The State Senate has approved a bill that changes the way Medicaid services are administered in Wyoming. 

Senate Health and Labor Committee Chairman Charles Scott says it would make a number of changes, especially for those with brain injuries and developmental disabilities, where large numbers of people are on a waiting list to get services. 

Scott says they will address the program by making sure that everyone does not qualify for more insurance than they need.

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Superintendent
3:48 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

House battle over State Superintendent position rages on

The Wyoming House of Representatives defeated a pair of amendments during the second day of debate on a bill that would remove some duties from the State Superintendent and give them to a governor-appointed Director of Education.  

Jackson Republican Keith Gingery asked for $20,000 to be set aside to allow State Superintendent Cindy Hill to fight her loss of power in court.  During that discussion Gingery expressed disappointment about the tone of the debate on the issue.

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News
3:43 pm
Thu January 24, 2013

Food Freedom Act passes

Credit Irina Zhorov

The Wyoming House of Representatives has passed a bill that would de-regulate the sale of homemade foods at farmers markets and between producers and consumers.  Republican Sue Wallis of Recluse says it would allow the sale of meat and unpasteurized, raw milk.  Lawmakers considered removing meat from the bill, but the amendment was defeated.  Wallis says if consumers buy locally, that money will get spread throughout communities.    

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News
6:13 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

WY Senate approves Medicaid fraud bill

The State Senate has unanimously passed a bill that would allow the State of Wyoming to investigate those suspected of Medicaid fraud.  Currently, the state can only launch such an investigation with federal approval.  Senator Ray Peterson of Cowley says that the state believes it could recover millions in fraud if the legislation is approved. 

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News
5:56 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

WY House gives initial approval to bill that would remove power from Superintendent Hill

The Wyoming House of Representatives has given initial approval to a bill that would remove key powers from the State Superintendent of Public Instruction and give them to an appointed Education Director. 

The House debated the bill for almost two hours. Many representatives expressed concern that the legislature was taking power away from the voters and others were concerned about how quickly the legislature is moving to pass the bill. Lyman Republican Allen Jaggi says he’s heard from constituents who share those concerns.

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News
12:04 pm
Wed January 23, 2013

Medicaid expansion in WY gets a 'do not pass' recommendation from Sen. Health & Labor Committee

The Senate Health and Labor Committee has voted down a measure that would expand Medicaid services in the state.  The program would allow more low income people to qualify for health insurance coverage. 

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