AP News Update

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AP News Update

Latest Wyoming news, sports, business and entertainment

MARIJUANA POSSESSION

Wyo. House won't ease marijuana penalties

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming House of Representatives has voted against a bill that would have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The House voted 45-to-15 yesterday against introducing a bill sponsored by Cheyenne Democrat James Byrd. The bill would have provided for small civil penalties for possession of an ounce or less of marijuana.

Byrd noted that Wyoming currently arrests people for marijuana possession.

Existing Wyoming law specifies that possession of greater than three ounces of marijuana is a felony while possession of lesser amounts is a misdemeanor that can result in jail time.

Neighboring Colorado recently decriminalized marijuana possession.

Rep. Steve Harshman, a Casper Republican, urged the House to defeat the bill. He said it's important for Wyoming legislators to send the right message to children in the state.

SAME SEX MARRIAGE

Bill would ban recognition of same-sex marriage

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A bill pending before the Wyoming House of Representatives would specify that the state wouldn't recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

Current Wyoming law says both that marriage is a civil contract between a man and a woman but also that the state will recognize legal marriages performed in other jurisdictions.

The Wyoming Supreme Court a few years ago ordered a district judge to handle a divorce proceeding between two women who had been married in Canada.

Casper Republican Rep. Gerald Gay is sponsoring the bill to specify that Wyoming would only recognize marriages between two people of different sex. The bill would require a two-thirds vote for introduction.

Gay says he doesn't regard see the bill as opposing same-sex marriage but says the Legislature should clarify the issue.

GUNS IN SCHOOLS

Lawmakers: allow concealed guns on campus

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming teachers and others over age 21 who hold firearms permits could carry concealed guns at schools and college campuses under a bill pending introduction at the state Legislature.

Rep. Allen Jaggi, a Republican from Lyman, is the main sponsor of the bill. It would require a two-thirds vote for introduction in the House of Representatives.

Jaggi said he believes the bill would improve school security by allowing innocent people to defend themselves.

Chris Boswell is vice president for governmental and community affairs at the University of Wyoming.

Boswell says the UW administration favors the current approach under which no one but trained law enforcement may carry concealed weapons on campus or at sporting events without approval from the UW police chief.

STATE GOP

Wyoming GOP officials: Party headquarters to move

CASPER, Wyoming (AP) - Wyoming Republicans say their state headquarters will move from Casper to the capitol, though not all party members are happy.

The Casper Star-Tribune quoted Senate President Tony Ross, a Cheyenne Republican, as saying at a news conference on Monday that he thinks the state office should stay in Casper because it is more centrally located there. But Karl Allred, a member of the party's central committee, called Cheyenne the state's political center.

The newspaper quotes Rochelle Miner, chairwoman of the Platte County Republican Party, as saying the move to Cheyenne will begin immediately.

COAL TAX

House declines to hear bill to reduce coal tax

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming House has voted not to introduce a bill to cut the severance tax on coal production.

Sponsors Rep. Eric Barlow of Gillette and Sen. Ogden Driskill of Devils Tower have said coal is increasingly coming under fire from federal government regulations.

The House voted 38-21 yesterday not to introduce the bill.

It would have cut the severance tax for surface coal from 7 percent to 6 percent and cut the tax on underground coal from 3.75 percent to 3 percent.

The tax reduction would have cost the state over $40 million a year.

The bill also called for a 1.5-percent severance tax on natural gas that's flared or consumed at the production site. That would have raised about $4 million a year.

MINIMUM WAGE

House defeats bill that would hike minimum wage

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A bill to hike the minimum wage for Wyoming workers has failed an introductory vote in the state House of Representatives.

The House voted 51-to-9 yesterday against a bill sponsored by Rep. James Byrd, a Cheyenne Democrat.

Byrd proposed hiking the state minimum wage from $5 to $9 an hour. His bill would raise the base pay for tipped employees from $2.13 an hour to $5 an hour.

Byrd said the bill would reduce demand for public services and help working people put food on the table and take care of their families.

Rep. Kendell Kroeker, an Evansville Republican, said it would be morally wrong for the state to pass a bill that would effectively prohibit businesses from hiring young, inexperienced employees.

Kroeker said it would increase the unemployment rate.

WYOMING ADVANCED PLACEMENT

More Wyoming students succeed on advanced exams

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The College Board which tracks student performance says more Wyoming public school students are succeeding on advanced exams than they were a decade ago.

The board says the number of graduates getting college credits for their scores on Advanced Placement exams in high school has risen from 361 to 519 since 2003. The number of students taking the exams has risen from 613 to 884.

The College Board is a not-for-profit organization created to expand access to higher education. It also makes recommendations to public schools on how to increase student performance.

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