A push by the conservative arm of the Republican party mostly fizzled in last night’s primary election. Most incumbents won their elections and will advance to the general election.
Senator Charles Scott of Casper survived the race with perhaps the highest profile in defeating veteran Representative Bob Brechtel. Scott says his ability to hash out differences with constituents during the campaign helped, along with the fact that voters were familiar with him. He says the contest told him that there is no need to change his approach.
Three Wyoming Republicans are facing off in next week’s primary election to become the G-O-P nominee for Senate District 28 in Casper.
Senator Kit Jennings is the incumbent and he is being challenged by Physician Tom Radosevich and retired businessman Jim Anderson. Anderson favors local control in most instances, including economic development. He wants the state to focus on helping what he calls Wyoming’s core industries.
Federal land managers have rejected an application by a Colorado company to use bacteria to produce methane from northeast Wyoming coal beds.
The Gillette News-Record reported Thursday the Bureau of Land Management threatened to prosecute Luca Technologies Inc. for trespassing if it continued the work. The company says it will comply but disagrees with the decision and may sue.
The BLM acted after Luca refused to pay an additional $40,000 for the cost of processing the application, on top of $40,000 it paid previously.
Five years ago the state embarked on an innovative preventive medicine approach called Healthy Frontiers. It offered a version of health insurance to low income people who cannot afford it. The idea was to try and keep people off of Medicaid and out of the emergency room. But as Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports the legislature stripped money from the program essentially killing it.
A major concern in the state budget is the growing cost of Medicaid. Medicaid is matching federal and state funded health coverage for lower income people, children, those with disabilities and elderly nursing home residents. State officials say that Medicaid costs take up a large chunk of the state budget and recently have been growing between 30 and 40 percent a year. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports that has pushed legislators to undertake a major study to find ways to reduce costs.
A majority of Senators have voted to keep a provision in an Open Records bill that would allow communication between one elected official and one private citizen from being made public. But Senator Bill Landen argued that such communication should be made public, because it could provide insight into why board members voted a particular way. Landen argued that the bill allows for mischief.
The Wyoming House and Senate have begun discussing the 3-point-2 billion dollar state budget. It will cover a biennium, or the next two fiscal years. House Appropriations Chairman Rosie Berger says they are trying to pass a flat budget this year and limit future spending. Senate Appropriations Chairman Phil Nicholas says agencies will be asked to reduce their budgets by four percent in the second year of the biennium and another four percent in the following year.
Salaries for judges could go up substantially under a bill being debated by the state Senate.
Senator Phil Nicholas says judicial salaries have lagged behind those in state government and higher education… and is proposing a nearly 34-thousand dollar increase for those on the Supreme Court, a 25 thousand dollar increase for District Court Judges, and Circuit court judges would see a pay hike of roughly 7-thousand dollars.
However,Senator Charles Scott of Casper fears such increases could take away much needed dollars from important programs like Medicaid.
Governor Matt Mead says low natural gas prices and a declining revenue forecast was behind his thinking in denying pay hikes for state, University of Wyoming and Community College employees this year. Mead was concerned about committing to a long term spending item and thought that it was wiser for the state to focus on one time spending.
The legislature’s Joint Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee is sponsoring a bill that would allow hunters to bait big game animals. The bill is meant to help lure deer herds away from towns where they could be killed safely. Republican Senator Bruce Burns of Sheridan is co-chair of the committee. He says having too many big game animals near towns and along the highway is dangerous for drivers and animals.
A Wyoming program that helps the disabled has a long waiting list, but a state bill to be introduced next year could help.
Jackson representative Keith Gingery is the sponsor of the bill to be introduced during the upcoming legislative session would provide $28 million in state and federal funding for Wyoming's Home and Community Based Waiver Program.
Lawmakers charged with redrawing Wyoming's legislative districts say they expect to hash out competing proposals at a two-day meeting early next week.
Republican Sen. Cale Case, of Lander, and Republican Rep. Pete Illoway, of Cheyenne, are co-chairmen of the Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee that meets Monday and Tuesday in Cheyenne. The Legislature will consider the committee's final plan in the session starting in February.