Politics

Governor Mead handily beat Democratic Challenger Pete Gosar. A strong economy generally favors the incumbent, and Mead undercut one of Gosar’s main criticisms when he came out in favor of Medicaid expansion earlier this year. Governor Mead says this term he wants to expand Medicaid in Wyoming.

“We are going to present an expansion plan to the Legislature for their consideration,” he says. “It's going to be a better plan than we had last year going into session.”

During an election season, people often doubt how much their votes count. But according to a new study by WalletHub.com, voters in Wyoming have more influence than any other voters in the country. Spokesperson Jill Gonzalez says that’s because Wyoming has the lowest population of any state and rural states with low populations still have the same number of senators as other more urban states.

While Wyoming residents strongly oppose the Affordable Care Act, residents are supportive of expanding Medicaid to provide health care to those who cannot afford it. A University of Wyoming election year survey conducted in mid - August found that only 24 percent of state residents approve of the Affordable Care Act, while 70 percent oppose it.  

University of Wyoming Political Scientist Jim King says people have a different opinion about Medicaid expansion.

Kim Via Flickr

The Wyoming League of Women Voters is now providing survey results that will help voters decide about whether to retain judges when they go to the polls next Tuesday.

The problem in the past has been that judges who are up for retention aren’t allowed to campaign like other elected officials.

Wyoming’s Congressional Delegation is drafting legislation that would remove wolves from the endangered species list in the state. 

Montana and Idaho had their wolves de-listed via federal legislation and U.S. Senator Mike Enzi says the delegation is gathering support for its own bill. The proposed legislation would put Wyoming’s wolf management plan into law. That plan allows wolves to be shot on sight in most of the state. 

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Wyoming’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Group says there is good news and bad news with this year’s revenue forecast.  General fund revenue is forecast to increase by over 37 million dollars. CREG Co-Chairman Dan Noble says the forecast looks good for sales and use tax and other things.

“Mineral valuations for oil are excellent, we are actually projecting around a 14 and a half percent increase in oil. Gas is continuing to climb as it relates to production, pricing is pretty stable. Coal, we are down from 400-million tons to 380-million tons.”

GOP Disappointed In Haynes

Oct 23, 2014

The Wyoming Republican Party says it is disappointed that Taylor Haynes has decided to run for governor as a write-in candidate despite losing in the GOP primary election. State Party Chairman Tammy Hooper says that Haynes signed a unity pledge saying he would support all the Republican candidates in the general election.

During a debate last night in Riverton, Democratic candidate for Governor Pete Gosar said that governor Matt Mead has lacked leadership. Gosar pointed to the failure to expand Medicaid among other things.

“We have gambled with our economy on one commodities price, the price of oil. And as we benefited as it went up it is now at 80 dollars and looking to go further south. I hope that the governor has a plan. I look at education policy,  under this governor’s term we have stopped teaching science in our schools.”

Candidates for State Superintendent of Public Instruction agree on several issues, but Democrat Mike Ceballos says his experience as a CEO of QWEST gives him the edge, while Republican Jillian Balow says her background as a classroom teacher makes her the best choice. 

One key difference is over the Common Core education standards which were adopted by Wyoming, but are now under fire. Ceballos says he’s a strong supporter of the standards, but charges that Balow has waffled.

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On Thursday, a federal court in Casper heard arguments on whether Wyoming needed to start issuing same sex marriage licenses. The courtroom was packed, but the hearing only went on for about an hour.

Federal Judge Scott Skavdahl heard same sex marriage advocates argue that because the 10th circuit court in Denver ruled earlier that same sex marriage bans were unconstitutional Wyoming needed to allow same sex marriage immediately.

In a televised debate Monday night among Wyoming candidates for U.S. Senate, Democratic challenger Charlie Hardy questioned Republican incumbent Senator Mike Enzi's ability to work with lawmakers outside his own party.

"Senator Enzi prides himself on working across the aisle. For example, working with Senator Ted Kennedy. But I really believe he hasn't realized that Ted Kennedy died about five years ago. He did work a lot across the aisle, but now being known as the second most conservative senator in congress, that I do not see as of value," said Hardy.

gosarforgovernor.com

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says it’s the duty of the state attorney general to continue to defend state law in the court that says marriage can only occur between one man and one woman. But his Democratic opponent Pete Gosar says the state should drop the case and allow gay marriage to occur in Wyoming.

"I think there are no differences in citizens in our constitution and in the U.S. constitution and what’s afforded to one, must be afforded to all."

Earlier this month, the Northern Arapaho Tribe decided to dissolve the Joint Business Council. It had been the major governing body for the two tribes on the Wind River Indian Reservation in Wyoming since the early 1930’s.

Northern Arapaho Business Council Member Dean Goggles says the Joint Business Council was imposed upon the tribes by the federal government to make it easier for them to get consensus from both tribes. But instead, Goggles says, the Council was stripping the tribes of their autonomy, making it harder to work together.

Pulitzer-Prize winning journalist Jose Antonio Vargas spoke at a symposium on immigration at the University of Wyoming on September 14, 2014. Jose Vargas outed himself as an illegal immigrant in a New York Times article three years ago. He came to the U-S from the Philippines when he was 12 but never obtained citizenship. Last July, Vargas was arrested at a Texas airport when he admitted he was not a legal citizen of the U.S.

Wyoming’s Joint Judiciary Legislative Committee has voted to support a bill that would allow for execution by firing squad, but voted down an attempt to abolish the death penalty altogether. 

States nationwide are being forced to find alternatives to executions now that drugs for lethal injections are hard to come by. Abolishing the death penalty altogether generated considerable debate. Baggs Senator Larry Hicks says the death penalty provides justice for victims. 

But Laramie Representative Cathy Connolly says the issue is greater than that.

A Wyoming legislative committee has voted to support a bill that would require law enforcement to get warrants to use drones to gather evidence in criminal cases. The Wyoming Liberty Group and Wyoming ACLU are both strong supporters of the bill. ACLU Director Linda Burt said restrictions are appropriate.

“These can be very intrusive means of searches with drones, they can be very small, and they can go into your homes without your knowledge, so we think it’s very important that there should be a warrant for any searches with drones.”

The Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Judiciary Committee will consider a bill next week in Laramie that could end up abolishing the state’s death penalty law. 

Currently states are having difficulty acquiring the chemicals to perform lethal injections, so the Judiciary Committee has been looking at other alternatives…including firing squads. But House Committee Chairman Keith Gingery says another alternative is to abolish the death penalty.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says he continues working with federal officials to craft a Medicaid expansion plan for Wyoming.                  

Mead says that he’s concerned that the federal government will not be able to afford the program, but he says it could help people in the state and so he is moving forward with a good faith effort.

The Wyoming Secretary of State’s office says that Tuesday’s primary election had an average turnout of registered voters.

State Elections Director Peggy Nighswonger says that it was comparable to previous primaries.                           

“Voter turnout for the primary elections was 46 percent of those registered to vote. Turnout is generally much higher for the general election. So if history repeats itself, we’ll likely see a lot more people at the polls on November 4th.”

Jillian Balow won the Republican nomination for State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tuesday night, beating out two other contenders. Now, she’ll face Democrat Mike Ceballos in November’s general election.

Balow is an administrator with the Wyoming Department of Family Services and a former teacher. She received 41 percent of the statewide vote.

Sheryl Lain works as an instructional leader under current Superintendent Cindy Hill.  She got 32 percent of the vote—and former Navy submarine commander Bill Winney got 27 percent.

Mead Wins GOP Primary

Aug 20, 2014

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead overcame strong challenges from Superintendent Cindy Hill and Doctor Taylor Haynes to win the Republican primary. 

Mead won the race despite upsetting the Republican base over his support of legislation that removed State Superintendent Cindy Hill as the supervisor of the Department of Education. Mead says it helped to be able to travel the state and meet with people.

To have a chance in small groups, one and one, and some large groups, take questions and have people hear firsthand from me. I thought that was extremely helpful.”

This post will be updated as results become available. Last updated: August 20 12:27 AM.   U.S. Senate 2014 Dem - Primary     482 of 482 precincts - 100 percent
     x-Charlie Hardy 7,193 - 48 percent
     Rex Wilde 3,010 - 20 percent
     Al Hamburg 2,989 - 20 percent
     William Bryk 1,670 - 11 percent

Due to the summer, turnout may not be high during today’s primary election. That will mean that fewer people will decide some key races. 

One of the hotly contested races involves Governor Matt Mead and challengers Taylor Haynes and State Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill. University of Wyoming Political Scientist Jim King said the governor needs his supporters to vote.

“The concern I would think in the Mead camp right now would be making sure that people don’t just assume that everything is fine and find something else to do that day.”

There was disagreement during a Republican State Superintendent of Public Instruction debate concerning the administration of Cindy Hill. 

Sheryl Lain, who currently works for Hill, defended the Superintendent and says education has improved and test scores have gone up. But Jillian Balow says the state can’t have four more years of a Hill/Lain administration. 

Three Republic candidates for Wyoming Governor disagreed over how much the state invests in fossil fuels as opposed to alternative fuels during a debate hosted by Wyoming PBS and broadcast by Wyoming Public Radio.   

Republican candidate Taylor Haynes says the state should not be investing money in the private sector and that the market will determine which kind of fuel the public will support. When it comes to alternative energy, Haynes say it works on a smaller scale. 

Stephanie Joyce

Governor Matt Mead may be changing his mind when it comes to expanding Medicaid services for low income people in the state. After publicly rejecting the notion of Medicaid expansion late last year, the governor says he is negotiating in good faith with the federal department of Health and Human Services to develop a Wyoming specific Medicaid expansion plan. 

A member of State Superintendent Cindy Hill’s staff is hoping to replace her.  Sheryl Lane is one of three Republican’s running for the right to face Democrat Mike Ceballos in the November general election.  

Lane is a former classroom teacher and while she likes the fact that legislators are looking at improving school and teacher accountability, she does not like the way they are going about it.  She says they have developed state accountability measures, something she opposes.

Associated Press

A special legislative committee investigating Wyoming schools Superintendent Cindy Hill released a scathing report Tuesday concluding she failed to follow legislative funding directives and demanded rank-and-file education department staff to demonstrate personal loyalty to her.

Hill has 15 days to respond before the committee will issue its final report, probably before the end of the month.

Wyoming LSO

The Legislature's Joint Education Committee is moving forward with an effort to study alternative ways to manage the Wyoming Department of Education and will seek input from education stakeholders and the public in that process.

Cindy Hill Superintendent

State Superintendent Cindy Hill says if she is elected governor she will push good government measures to make it easier for the public to get documents, she also plans to address conflicts of interest that she sees in government.   

Hill will run as a Republican.  She said that she got into the race because she said Governor Matt Mead exceeded his authority of governor when he signed the law that removed her as the head of the Department of Education. 

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