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January 7th, 2011
A listing of Today's Stories:
Laramie has Toughest Laws for Drinking and Driving
On January first, punishments for drunken driving in the city of Laramie became some of the stiffest in the state. But it's not the first time lawmakers have moved to increase D-U-I penalties. And as Wyoming Public Radio's Tristan Ahtone reports, it won't be the last.
Fatalities Mount due to Failure to Wear Seatbelts
Almost 35 percent of Wyoming drivers choose not to wear their seatbelts. In 2010, the state saw an increase of 20 traffic related fatalities and the Wyoming highway patrol says the majority of those deaths were likely due to the fact that someone was not wearing a seatbelt. State highway safety engineer Matt Carlson tells Bob Beck it's an issue that Wyoming has struggled with for some time.
President: Future is Bright for UW
When the legislature meets next week the University of Wyoming will once again be in line for money to enhance the new energy school and research on campus. Former Governor Freudenthal requested the funds for UW in December using a federal source of money that is likely to disappear. U-W President Tom Buchanan is thrilled with the request. During a Cheyenne stop where he stopped to speak with the legislatures appropriations committee.President Buchanan admitted that it continues to be an exciting time at the university.
The Importance of Foster Families Adopting
The vast majority of children in Wyoming that enter the foster care system end back with their parents or another family member. But, a few of these children end up in a situation where the family cannot take them. Experts agree that the best situation for these kids is finding another permanent home and that usually means adoption. Wyoming Public Radio's Renny MacKay reports that one outcome that has worked well is for the foster family to make that child a permanent part of their lives.
Pilot Healthcare Project has Critics
A Cheyenne economist is urging the Wyoming legislature to pull away from the Healthy Frontiers program because he does not believe that the state can afford to get involved in any time of health care reform. Healthy Frontiers is a program developed by the legislature that is designed to give people health accounts that they can use to get preventive medical care from doctors. Doctors would be given a financial incentive to work with people to help them maintain a healthy lifestyle. The program is designed for those who are low income and who cannot get health insurance. They also must be working. But Doctor Sven Larson an economist with the Wyoming Liberty Group says to Bob Beck this could turn into a very expensive venture for the state.
40 Years of Big Brothers Big Sisters
The Big Brothers Big Sisters program in Wyoming is based in Laramie. It started up in that community forty years ago. Since then it has paired hundreds of men and women with youth looking for a little guidance and mentoring. Now Big Brothers Big Sisters is in almost ten communities around the state. Outreach coordinator Michael McNamee joins me he says as part of this anniversary they found the first Big Brother in the city's history
New Lawmakers will Bring New Conservatism
On Tuesday, the Wyoming legislature kicks off its 61st session and will also welcome a wave of newcomers. 24 of the 90 legislators were not in office last year and 23 are serving for the first time. Most are Republicans who were elected during the so called tea party move that swept the nation. In fact, the Wyoming GOP enjoys the largest majority of any legislature in the nation. We look at what all this might mean for the Wyoming legislature.
Retiring State Senator is Worried about Future of Education
With new legislators coming in some veterans are leaving office. Senator Mike Massie from Laramie is one of those departing. He ran for State Superintendent this year and loss and has spent over a decade working on education policy. I spoke with him about a special legislative committee's work on school accountability. The goal is to get better results from students because Wyoming is spending a large amount on education. But, Massie says the bill the committee passed is seriously flawed. One of his main criticisms is that the accountability would be tied to a single test, which is known as PAWS, but he told me after the committee's vote that there are other problems too.