politics

Bob Beck

This week the legislature's Senate Corporations and Elections Committee entertained a couple of bills that would change how people vote in the primary election. One was a Republican Party driven bill that would keep people from changing parties after a specific date.

It was crafted in response to last year's GOP gubernatorial primary where some think democrats helped determine the outcome by crossing over and voting in the Republican primary. Committee Chairman Bill Landen of Casper was not convinced that something needed to be done.

Tennessee Watson


For years Wyoming lawmakers have been grappling with how to ensure kids are safe at school. In 2009 they passed anti-bullying legislation. Last year they granted districts the right to decide whether to arm teachers and staff as a defense against violent intruders.

This session school violence is once again on the docket. Senate File 64  School Safety and Security passed out of the Senate this week and is now being considered by the House. The legislation would require all districts to develop comprehensive school safety and security plans.

Wyoming Public Radio's education reporter Tennessee Watson sat down with Cheyenne Senator Affie Ellis to discuss why she thinks this legislation is needed.

Melodie Edwards

The Wyoming Department of Family Services has been working overtime to issue Wyoming families their SNAP food benefits a couple weeks early. That's because with the government saying they'll reopen, but for only three weeks, it's unclear when they'll get benefits again.

A Few APDs Filed During Shutdown - 30 Day Federal Public Posting Report
Bureau of Land Management

In an hour-long hearing Thursday, frustrated Democrats on the House Natural Resources committee called out the Trump administration for "blatant favoritism" toward the oil and gas industry. California Congressman Alan Lowenthal complained oil and gas has gone unscathed while all walks of life are feeling the pain.

screenshot from Will Caldwell's video on Vimeo

While many school districts across the state already create safety and security plans, there's nothing currently in statute requiring them to do so. A school safety and security bill moving through the state legislature would make such plans mandatory.

DAVE PARKER / FLICKR, CREATIVE COMMONS

Legislatures across the region are considering heavy restrictions to abortion. Activity by opponents of abortion rights at the state level could be related to the recent shift at the U.S. Supreme Court.

The Wyoming Senate has defeated a bill that would have allowed the state to explore an alternative voting method. Laramie Senator Chris Rothfuss was proposing that the state switch to an open primary where voters could vote for all candidates seeking a particular office and the top two vote-getters could advance to the general election, no matter their party affiliation.

layout by Tennessee Watson

A bill restricting women's access to abortion received initial approval Tuesday from the House Judiciary Committee.

An all-Republican legislative committee voted to reject a bill that would have prevented people from switching political parties prior to the primary election.

Uranium, coal, oil and gas, and wind energy are all being discussed this legislature -- and the word of the hour is revenue
Cooper McKim/Wyoming Public Radio

The big hitters in the energy industry are all back on the docket this session: coal, wind, uranium, and oil and gas. Unsurprisingly, the focus is on revenue for all of them. Here’s a look at a few of the bills still under discussion.

Bob Beck

A private school with some notable political ties has gotten into a fight with Teton County over whether it can build a new campus to accommodate a growing population. The Jackson Hole Classical Academy teaches a back-to-basics curriculum with a slight religious bent. After repeatedly being denied a chance to build to a scale school officials say is needed, the fight has come to Cheyenne and legislators are involved.

The ski industry is an important economic driver in our region, but it's facing a lot of changes. Climate change, for one, is transforming ski resort leaders into activists and lobbyists.

Yellowstone River
National Park Service

The official non-profit of the National Park Service has set up a fund to help repair parks once they reopen.

Wyoming Department of Workforce Services

It's the fourth week of the government shutdown, and furloughed government employees did not receive their first paycheck.

Flickr Creative Commons/Meal Makeover Moms

Three schools on the Wind River Reservation are offering free lunches to people affected by the government shutdown.

Wyoming Legislature

A bill that would have taken away local zoning policies when it comes to private schools was changed to place private facilities on equal footing with public schools.

Two bills are currently moving through the legislature that would give the Wyoming Game and Fish Department more flexibility to manage the collecting of antlers on the landscape. Right now, people can collect them anytime between January 1 and May 1 in designated areas of the state.

curtmeierfortreasurer.com

In November, Curt Meier replaced now-Governor Mark Gordon as the state treasurer. Meier said the Treasurer's Office has been busy filling new staff positions while staying within budget.

Wyoming State Legislature

A group of Wyoming legislators is hoping this is the year that they repeal the death penalty. Douglas Senator Brian Boner and Cheyenne Representative Jared Olsen are sponsoring the bill. They note that no one has been executed in Wyoming since 1992, yet the state still has to pay nearly a million dollars a year to defend cases. 

Public Domain

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon asked the legislature's Joint Appropriations Committee to fund a $10 million carbon capture test project. Gordon said the money would be provided to the University of Wyoming's School of Energy Resources.

Leonard J. DeFrancisci via Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The Wyoming legislature is considering a bill that would raise millions to support the state's tourism economy.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Three bills that are intended to help fix Wyoming's wage gap are headed to the House Floor. Wyoming ranks 50th in the country when it comes to how much women earn on the dollar compared to men.

Bob Beck

If you walk the halls of the Jonah Building where the Wyoming legislature meets you will see lawmakers discussing hot topics related to education, health care, elections and what to do about Wyoming's growing prison population. But like most years the main focus is on money. For several years now lawmakers have worried about unstable revenue sources. 

Wyoming Legislature

Every year the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault gives out what they call PEACE awards ("promoting excellence in advocacy for change and empowerment"). Back in November, they gave one out for best leadership in policymaking. It went to six Wyoming lawmakers who worked to pass six news laws to better protect victims of violence.

While many pundits are predicting pure gridlock for the next two years, Wyoming's senior senator Mike Enzi senses an opening to completely revamp how Washington spends money. He's the chair of the Budget Committee and he's using that perch to call for overhauling the way both parties dole out cash and blow up the federal debt and deficit, including Republicans over the last two years. That's why Enzi wants to start by changing from an annual to a two-year budget process, like they have in Cheyenne.

Rachel Girt

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon said the state's best years are ahead and outlined several plans during his state of the state message to move Wyoming forward.

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in a case that could restore tribal hunting rights in Wyoming, which could affect tribes throughout our region.


Despite the government shutdown, there's been a handover at the U.S. Department of the Interior. Former Secretary Ryan Zinke is out, deputy secretary David Bernhardt is in, with a continuance of the Trump Administration policy of energy dominance.

KUER's Diane Maggipinto spoke with Nate Hegyi of KUER's Mountain West News Bureau to sort it out, starting with Zinke's wins and losses.

Wyoming Legislature

Wyoming House Minority Floor Leader Cathy Connolly urged members of the House of Representatives to support anti-discrimination legislation.

Trump Oval Office Address

Jan 8, 2019

President Trump is addressing the nation about border security tonight (Tuesday, Jan. 8). Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Charles Schumer will give a joint response immediately following. The government is partially shut down, with Trump in a stalemate with Democrats over funding for a wall along the southern border. Watch the remarks live at 7 p.m. MT.

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