In the State of the State address today, Governor Mead reiterated his proposal to redirect more money from severance taxes into the ‘rainy day account.’ One percent of severance taxes currently goes into the permanent mineral trust fund, but Governor Mead wants it to go into a legislative savings account instead.
House Minority Leader, Mary Throne, has spoken out against having a rainy day fund so large, noting that it currently contains $5 billion. She says they need to determine how much they actually need to save.
Governor Matt Mead said in his State of the State address Wednesday that lawmakers need to think further about Medicaid expansion in the state and to develop a plan specifically for Wyoming. Department of Health Director, Tom Forslund, said the state would save about $50 million over six years under a full expansion.
House Majority Floor leader Kermit Brown says there are still too many unknowns in the federal rules for the Affordable Care Act that could hurt Wyoming.
From left to right, Micah Lott, Jenea Mandan, Steven Carpenter and Rauni Spute canvass door-to-door among houses in Riverton, Wyoming. The four are members of RezAction, a Wind River Indian Reservation advocacy organization that has worked urgently to increase turnout in this year’s election.
A get-out-the-vote effort on the Wind River Indian Reservation helped get people to the polls, but Fremont County, where the reservation is located, still showed slightly lower numbers of ballots cast this year than in 2008 and 2004.
Voter turnout on reservations has generally been low and often community members take more interest in tribal elections than in state and national races, but Wyofile journalist Ron Feemster, who was on Wind River for Election Day, says that didn’t seem to be an issue.
: Jim Stanford detests campaign yard signs. So when he decided to run for a seat on Jackson's Town Council he says he decided not to use them. The idea snowballed from there with Stanford deciding to run a paper-less campaign. In a competitive race, packed with qualified candidates, his unconventional approach worried campaign team members, including Amy McCarthy.
"I just wanted to make sure that as Jim went from door to door with so many people not being home that they knew that he had tried to stop by," McCarthy said.
The Mayor of Cody says residents in her community can expect to see budget cuts and a reduction of services following the failure of a one-percent sales tax which was intended to address infrastructure needs of Park County.
Mayor Nancy Tia Brown says her community will see some changes: “It was a time for the Cody voters or the county voters to let us know if they wanted to continue things as they were or make adjustments. And we are going to have to make some adjustments.”
Fremont County will have more money to fix roads, now that voters have approved a 1-percent sales tax.
County Commission Chairman Doug Thompson says the state transportation funding hasn’t been adequate to properly maintain the county’s transportation infrastructure.
“There’s bridges that are starting to fall into disrepair,” Thompson said. “We have huge backlogs of road maintenance. … So this will allow us to do some maintenance projects that will keep us from having to rebuild the roads later on.”
Wyoming voters have endorsed a state constitutional amendment specifying that competent adults have the right to make their own health care decisions.
Proponents had pushed the amendment to voice opposition to the federal Affordable Care Act. They say they still see a place for the amendment despite a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court this summer that upheld portions of the federal law.
Voters on Tuesday also endorsed an amendment specifying that the state will preserve citizens' opportunities to hunt, fish and trap.
Teton County voters resoundingly approved a 14-million-dollar tax proposition to close the county's landfill. Hailey Morton, the top vote-getter in the Jackson Town Council race, called the proposition a no-brainer.
"If it didn't come from the sales tax, from the SPET tax, it would have had to come from property tax, which you know whether that was from the general fund or raising property tax, I think constituents realized that's not what they wanted to do."
Jim Stanford, who also won a seat on the Town Council, said the
Republicans have increased their clout in the Wyoming Legislature as a result of yesterday’s election. The GOP gained two House seats in Rock Springs and another in western Wyoming, though Democrats gained a seat in Cheyenne.
One of the Democrats’ key losses was Rep. Joe Barbuto, an incumbent from Rock Springs. He lost to Republican Mark Baker.
Several other Democratic incumbents had fierce competition as well. Rep. Mary Throne, Sen. Floyd Esquibel, and Rep. Patrick Goggles each won re-election by only a narrow margin.
Beyond selecting federal and state candidates, Wyoming voters decided the fate of numerous local ballot initiatives.
In Weston County, voters increased property taxes to raise funds for the local hospital, nursing home, and other health services. Sweetwater County voted to issue bonds to build a new pool at the high school, and passed a 1% sales tax for infrastructure projects. Platte County will re-authorize property taxes to fund a nursing home, and Converse County approved a 1% sales tax to build a library and an education building.
Democrats in Wyoming are widely outnumbered by to Republicans, and this election they lost another member in the Legislature.
Republican Mark Baker defeated Democratic Representative Joseph Barbuto for a state Representative seat.
Democrat Chris Henrichsen ran for US House against Cynthia Lummis and lost. He says the keys is not to bolster the party, but to focus on running candidates that can appeal to different kinds of voters on issues, like Democratic governors have done.
Teton County ran out of ballots at several polling stations tonight because of skyrocketing voter turnout.
Volunteer election judge Mike Gierau says there were almost 5,000 absentee ballots, in addition to massive amounts of people waiting in line to vote on election day.
“A lot of times you see people in a presidential year just vote for the top offices and then not really go on to the other side of the ballot. Today there was a lot of votes on the other side of the ballot, a lot of votes on those propositions we saw."
U.S. Republican Senator John Barrasso has been re-elected.
The conservative Junior Senator from Wyoming says there needs to be more bi-partisan cooperation during the next Congress.
“I think that people that have gotten elected tonight have a responsibility to the country to make sure we focus on this incredible debt and focus on getting people back to work. So I’m committed to that.”
Albany County: With 13 of 13 precincts reporting, Democrat Tim Sullivan beats Republican Shelley Towler, 5794 to 4910 to for the open seat on the Albany County Board of Commissioners.
Natrona County: With 46 out of 46 precincts reporting, Republicans Forrest Chadwick and Matt Keating are ahead of the pack for two seats on the Natrona County Board of Commissioners. They have 14,648 and 14,146 votes respectively. Independent Keith B. Goodenough is in third place is 10,468.
In addition to voting on candidates this general election, voters were asked to decide on three Constitutional Amendments and, in most counties, on local proposals for sales taxes and development projects.
Here's the breakdown of the ballot questions.
- Authorize property tax not exceeding 1/2 mill on the dollar of assessed valuation of all taxable property in Albany County for planning, developing and providing regional transportation?
- Authorize 1/4 penny sales tax to benefit Laramie Economic Development Corporation? FAILED
Voter turnout in Teton County has been much higher than expected. So high that one poll has already run out of ballots.
Teton County Clerk Sherry Daigle says she stocked the polls with enough ballots to accommodate 105-percent of registered voters there. But by mid-afternoon, at least half of all precincts were getting ready to open – or had already dug into – their last pack of 100 ballots.
Voters have reported problems at polls in Park County, which opened at 7 a.m today.
David Koch of Big Horn News Network says poll workers told him that several ballot machines in Cody had not been programmed when the polls were opened.
First Deputy County Clerk Mike DeMoney of Park County tells Wyoming Public Radio that’s not true, but that a few of the machines had been mistakenly programmed to an incompatible setting. DeMoney says the problem was fixed by 7:30 a.m.
A Constitutional Amendment designed to keep the federal government from deciding what health care Wyoming residents can receive has some uneasy.
Constitutional Amendment A gives rights to Wyoming citizens and the state over health care decisions, but some worry about a provision that gives the legislature power to determine reasonable and necessary restrictions on someone’s health care rights.
NPR and Wyoming Public Radio bring you Election coverage beginning Tuesday at 6pm (MTN) following All Things Considered. We'll closely follow the Presidential election as well as results from Congressional, Senate, and Gubernatorial races. Wyoming Public Radio will provide coverage of state and local races.
District Court Judges across the state are urging voters to vote yes on proposed Constitutional Amendment C.
The Amendment would clarify what tasks a District Court Commissioner can perform. A court commissioner is an acting judge who can handle a variety of tasks for a judge that range from taking depositions to holding Juvenile hearings.
District Court Judge Jeff Donnell said that caseloads have grown over the years and Judges are spending more time on the bench and District Court Commissioners can help with a number of tasks.
A Democrat US Senate candidate says the nation needs to stop its war on drugs.
Tim Chesnut says the country spends too much money on the effort and should instead try to see the benefits of legalizing some drugs like Marijuana. Chesnut says such a legalization effort could raise revenue.
Voter mobilization efforts on the Wind River Indian Reservation are targeting young, Native residents to vote in the general election on November sixth.
Voter initiatives on Wind River Indian Reservation include free rides to polling places on Election Day, hanging information leaflets on residents’ doorknobs about where and how to vote, and a celebratory feast for participants. Event Coordinator Jolene Catron says that the last time there was such an effort on the reservation, the number of voters almost doubled.
Two U-S Senate candidates differ on the role of the environmental protection agency. Senator John Barrasso says the E-P-A has hurt Wyoming’s energy industry and has developed unfair regulations that have harmed the coal industry.
“You know I think what the EPA has done for 40 years has made remarkable progress, but now we are at a point, at this point I believe they are failing America by the impact that they are having on so many energy jobs because of regulations coming out of Washington.”
Some Laramie residents have organized to boycott businesses owned by Tim Woodward, a local restaurant franchise owner.
Last week, Woodward and his brother Rob – the Woodwards operate franchises in Wyoming and Colorado – wrote an open letter in the Laramie Boomerang, saying they told employees that if President Obama is re-elected and the Affordable Care Act stands, he will be forced to cut hours and benefits to employees.
Will Welch, an administrator for the Facebook group “Say No to Voter Intimidation Food”, called the letter “craven and unnecessary”.
A year and a half ago, Don Wills helped to form a new political party in Wyoming, called the Country Party. Today, he is challenging Representative Cynthia Lummis for her seat in the US House.
A business owner in the computer industry, Wills says his aim is to challenge what he calls liberal, progressive Republicans, and to raise the new party’s conservative profile. He says there are two main parts of his agenda—the first: the deficit.