February 21st, 2020
The Wyoming legislature has been meeting for a couple of weeks now and it seems very similar to past sessions. There’s not going to be tax increases, there’s a lot of talk about budget cutting, but hardly any real cuts are happening. This despite the fact that revenue projections are dire. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports that while some want change, change takes time.
In this year’s legislative budget session, the percentage of bills related to coal increased by over 300 percent compared to last year. Over the past year, discussion centered around bills focused on better preparing for coal bankruptcies… helping miners workers and recouping taxes from companies, but the majority of legislation now focuses simply on bolstering the industry. Wyoming Public Radio’s Cooper McKim reports legislators are now looking to the resource for financial survival.
Recently a Laramie man was chosen as the new CEO of the Wyoming Business Council. Josh Dorrell has a long history in private business and he’s also taught business at the University of Wyoming. Governor Gordon and others have called for a revamping of the business council and Dorrell has already started retooling their goals. He tells me a little about his history.
Governor Mark Gordon recently announced that Wyoming is looking to make a major new investment… buying a million acres of land across southern Wyoming and through surrounding states.
Occidental Petroleum is looking to sell its checkerboard plots after recently acquiring them… Union Pacific originally had the rights. State leadership believes the purchase could help boost and diversify Wyoming’s investment portfolio for years to come. Here’s the Governor.
"There's there's a real opportunity here that That is maybe a once in a lifetime kind of opportunity.”
State leaders go on to mention the land could provide new opportunities in energy development, recreation, grazing, and land swaps. But so far… there’s little concrete information about the deal. Speaker of the House Steve Harshman said they expect questions.
"Should government buy land like this? I think and fair enough, is it a good investment is a good use of our dollars. Is it a way when we're, you know, running structural deficits? … we're going to have to figure it out as we go.”
Wyoming Public Radio’s Cooper McKim speaks with former Governor David Freudenthal about the magnitude of unknowns, the risk of the purchase, and prudence of it in what’s been a difficult financial period for Wyoming.
At the end of 2019 - the bureau of land management leased out more than 37 thousand acres of land in northern park county for potential oil and gas drilling. Wyoming Public Radio’s Kamila Kudelska reports some are alarmed about the recent spike in land available for oil and gas and what that means for the areas unique wildlife.
There are estimated 6,000 big game animals killed by vehicle collisions each year in the state. The Wyoming Game and Fish Department and groups have been trying to find ways to reduce that number for years. Wyoming Public Radio’s Catherine Wheeler spoke with Game and Fish’s Deputy Director Angi Bruce to talk about the department’s new initiative and what it means for animals and drivers in the state.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is tweaking its treatment options in an effort to be more holistic. Wyoming Public Radio’s Catherine Wheeler says a program at the Sheridan VA is making space for practices that come from traditions from regional Native American tribes.
This month marks the 100th anniversary of the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce or the Cody Club…as it was known until 1970. Wyoming Public Radio’s Kamila Kudelska spoke with Jeremy Johnston, historian at the buffalo bill center of the west, and Tina Hoebelhenrich, the president of the Cody Country Chamber of Commerce, on how the club began. Johnston says it started with the towns founders George Beck and Buffalo Bill Cody trying to attract people to the area.