politics

How are wildland firefighters expected to battle blazes during a pandemic? That's not entirely clear, but a bipartisan bill proposed by Mountain West lawmakers aims to help ensure firefighters' safety.

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Former Vice President Joe Biden won Wyoming's Democratic Caucus, which party officials say drew a historic number of Democratic voters.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming legislative leaders have been told the state may face revenue declines between $555 million to $2.8 billion as a result of the coronavirus.

Perhaps the last thing we needed in this hyperpartisan election year was another reminder of what divides us as a nation. Then the COVID-19 crisis arrived and gave us one.

The virus is affecting everyone, in one way or another, but in terms of actual sickness and death, it is disproportionately afflicting people of color. So far, at least, it is afflicting primarily those people of color who live in the most densely populated cores of our metropolitan centers.

Liam James Doyle/NPR

Even if Wyoming's two senators aren't here in Washington, they're working overtime these days. After helping pass a $2.2 trillion stimulus package last month, this week they tried to give the administration another $250 billion so it could aide struggling or shuttered small businesses. Wyoming Senator John Barrasso says these massive stimulus bills are essential right now.

Senate Democrats blocked a GOP effort to add $250 billion in coronavirus-related small-business loans.

"We need more funding — and we need it fast," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor. "To my Democratic colleagues, do not block emergency aid you do not oppose just because you want something more. We do not have to do everything right now."

Congressional Republicans and the White House want to increase the total amount of loans available through the Paycheck Protection Program from $350 billion to $600 billion.

EPW GOP

Most states have issued stay-at-home orders to slow the spread of COVID-19. Wyoming and Utah are two of the very few remaining without statewide orders.

U.S. Census Bureau

You probably got a letter in the mail recently from the U.S. Census Bureau asking you to fill out its survey. And maybe you're thinking, I don't have time for this! I just lost my job and I don't know how I'm going to pay my mortgage in the next couple of months! My kids are home and they're driving me crazy!

Ken Lund via CC BY-SA 2.0

In an unexpected move, Gov. Mark Gordon vetoed a bill that would have laid the groundwork for a major land and mineral rights deal between Wyoming and Occidental Petroleum.

U.S. Capitol Building
Public Domain

At the start of the year the U.S. economy was soaring, but now most everything has come to a government mandated halt which is rippling across the economy… which has been a shock for most lawmakers, including Wyoming Senator John Barrasso.

Updated at 5:50 p.m. ET

President Trump has signed a historic $2 trillion economic recovery package into law Friday afternoon, shortly after the House of Representatives approved the bill.

In an Oval Office ceremony Friday, the president thanked Republicans and Democrats "for coming together, setting aside their differences and putting America first" to pass the legislation. Trump was joined by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy. No Democrats were present at the signing.

Updated at 11:47 p.m. ET

The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly approved a $2 trillion relief package Wednesday night designed to alleviate some of the worst effects of the swift economic downturn currently underway as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ahead of the 96-0 vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) told lawmakers, "Our nation obviously is going through a kind of crisis that is totally unprecedented in living memory."

Bob Beck

Over the years there's been a conflict between news, advocacy organizations and members of the public versus government agencies when it comes to documents and information. Many times these issues go to court. In an effort to make all sides play better together, the legislature created the position of Ombudsman to settle these disputes. Ruth Van Mark joins Bob Beck to discuss her role in the state.

Bob Beck

The Wyoming Legislature wrapped up its work this week with concerns about the future. A downturn in oil prices and worries about a drop in investment income has lawmakers thinking that they may need to make some difficult decisions in the not-too-distant future.

Savannah Maher

During the legislative session, Representative Andi Clifford's days start before dawn. So, when her friend Representative Sara Burlingame picks her up from her hotel early on a February morning, the first thing on their agenda is getting caffeinated.

WyoFile/Flickr Creative Commons

County Clerks in Wyoming could soon be required by state law to accept tribal ID cards for voter registration, provided the ID lists the applicant's driver's license number or last four digits of their social security number.

The deadline is tonight to submit public comment on sweeping changes to one of the nation’s bedrock environmental laws.

In today’s partisan political climate, one thing most Westerners seem to agree on is the need to protect wildlife corridors.

Wildlife corridors are historic wildlife migration routes. And sometimes, those routes need protecting. It could be as simple as restoring some native species, or it could involve building a grassy overpass over a busy highway.

Associated Press

The State Senate has passed a bill that sets up a process for legislators to review the school funding model and take a close look at education requirements.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Declining oil prices, a lack of substantial budget cuts, and concerns spending reserves dominated discussion as the Wyoming House and Senate gave final approval to its two-year budget.

Our station will increase engagement journalism efforts this year by partnering with other public radio stations and collaborating networks in a regional reporting initiative called America Amplified: Election 2020.

Updated 9:40 a.m. MST 3/10/2020
 
Former presidential candidate Steve Bullock is officially running for a Montana Senate seat, making the Mountain West region a big player in Democrats’ push to flip the U.S. Senate.

The Bureau of Land Management’s plan to move its headquarters out west is costing the agency around half the employees asked to make the move, according to a new report from federal watchdog Government Accountability Office.


Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

The Wyoming Senate is scheduled to debate a bill today to set up a gaming commission who will determine how to regulate the growth in video gambling in the state.

Wyoming State Senator Affie Ellis.
LINDSAY LINTON BUK

Cheyenne Senator Affie Ellis successfully added an amendment to include more non-politicians in discussions over how Wyoming spends its education money.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

A state capital construction bill received final approval from the Wyoming House, setting the stage for a conference committee that will focus on what the University of Wyoming will get. 

Bob Beck

The Wyoming Legislature will be undertaking what is called a recalibration of its school funding system. It's a process where lawmakers look at what they require of educators and the state is paying enough for education. But for the first time since it was developed, the committee will study what is in Wyoming's basket of goods. Those are the skills and content areas students are required to learn, such as math and science.

Melodie Edwards

The Holy Grail in the fight to stop climate change is reaching a bipartisan solution. To reach that end, the group Citizen Climate Lobby sent their regional director Bill Barron around Wyoming this month to engage in community conversation.

At his stop in Laramie, Wyoming Public Radio's Melodie Edwards sat down with Barron to hear about the proposal his organization says is already drawing consensus from many sides: a bipartisan bill proposing a carbon fee and dividend plan. The group is putting together action teams in the state too. You can learn more at their website

Online GIS Maps; Cooper McKim

Wyoming legislators are working through two bills that would lay the groundwork to study and potentially buy over a million acres of land and four million acres of mineral rights across the southern part of the state.

The 1,010,900 acres of land in question sits within six Wyoming counties: Lincoln, Uinta, Carbon, Albany, Laramie, and Sweetwater. Local officials are beginning to grapple with the potential risks and rewards of the deal.

It’s a Monday night in Salt Lake City and thousands of people are gathering to hear Democratic presidential nominee Pete Buttigieg, former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, speak at a convention hall downtown. Parker and Chloe Woods have just driven an hour and a half from the university town of Logan, Utah, to be here. 

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