AP News Update

AP News Update

Latest Wyoming news, sports, business and entertainment

GUN CONTROL CHALLENGE

19 states to help challenge New Jersey gun law

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming is leading a coalition of 19 states that are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow them to submit a brief supporting a New Jersey man challenging that state's concealed weapons law.

A three-judge panel of the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last summer ruled against the challenge from John M. Drake and others. Drake objected to a provision in New Jersey law that says people seeking permits to carry a concealed firearm must prove to police that they have a justifiable need.

The Wyoming attorney general's "friend of the court" brief says Wyoming and other states are concerned that if the appeals court ruling stands, it could threaten their less-restrictive concealed carry laws.

SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT

State seeks rehearing in Wyo. schools chief case

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The state attorney general says the Wyoming Supreme Court should reconsider and reverse or at least clarify its decision in the state superintendent of public instruction case.

Attorney General Peter Michael filed a brief yesterday that argues the court's decision is ambiguous.

The court ruled 3-2 last month that a law removing the superintendent as head of the state Department of Education was unconstitutional. The superintendent remained one of five statewide elected officials.

Republican Superintendent Cindy Hill challenged the law, and the divided Supreme Court ruled that the Legislature went too far in cutting the superintendent's duties.

However, the opinion acknowledged that the Legislature can adjust the superintendent's duties.

If a rehearing is granted, the court will decide whether to stay the decision until the rehearing is decided.

WYOMING MEDICAID

Wyoming Senate defeats Medicaid expansion bill

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming Senate has voted down a bill endorsed by an interim legislative committee that would have allowed the expansion of the Medicaid program in the state.

The Senate voted 16-to-14 yesterday against considering a bill endorsed by the joint Labor, Health and Social Services Committee. The bill would have allowed the use of Medicaid funds to pay private health insurance premiums.

Sen. Bernadine Craft, a Rock Spring Democrat, spoke for the bill. She says she's still hopeful the Legislature will approve some form of Medicaid expansion.

Casper Republican Sen. Charles Scott is chairman of the Senate Labor, Health and Social Services Committee. He says he doesn't' trust federal promises to continue to cover expansion costs and doesn't expect the Legislature to pass any other pending Medicaid expansion bills.

PRESCHOOL PROGRAMS

Preschool program proposal fails introduction

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The idea of helping local preschool programs doesn't look like it will be considered by the Legislature this session.

One of a pair of bill sponsored by the Joint Education Interim Committee on preschool education fell short of the two-thirds vote in the House needed for introduction yesterday.

The legislation would have appropriated $1.5 million in state money for preschool programs over a three-year period. Most of the money would be grants for local communities and organizations that apply.

Supporters say the proposal would better coordinate efforts in early childhood education and save the state money in the long run.

Opponents pointed to studies that early childhood education doesn't provide any significant benefits.

Wyoming doesn't have state funded preschool, but local school districts can offer them on their own.

SUPERINTENDENT AMENDMENT

Proposal seeks to eliminate Wyo. schools chief

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A bipartisan group of lawmakers is proposing a constitutional amendment to eliminate the state superintendent of public instruction.

The proposal would assign the responsibility for overseeing Wyoming's public education system to the governor.

The proposal would need a two-thirds vote in each house of the Legislature before it would be placed on the 2016 general election statewide ballot. If voters approve, the change would not be effective until 2019, meaning whoever is elected superintendent this year would be the last.

The proposal comes as the Legislature, Gov. Matt Mead and current Superintendent Cindy Hill have been battling over the superintendent's powers and duties. The state Supreme Court recently ruled unconstitutional a new law removing the superintendent as head of the state Education Department.

UNIFIED NETWORK

State information officer urges Internet expansion

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming's chief information officer says the state is poised to expand the Internet system that serves public schools and state offices.

Gov. Matt Mead has asked lawmakers to approve $15.7 million to develop a unified Internet network around the state. Lawmakers are considering the request in the 20-day budget session that started Monday in Cheyenne.

Flint Waters is head of the Office of Enterprise Technology Services for the state. He briefed lawmakers yesterday at the state's Joint Appropriations Committee.

Waters said Internet service for schools and state offices would go from the current 2 Gigabit service up to 100 Gigabits by July 2015 under the expansion. He says private industry would also benefit from the higher capacity.

The appropriations committee has recommended approval of the funding.

TRIBAL HEALTH

Wyo. House rejects bill for Tribal health project

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming House of Representatives has voted down a bill that would have allowed the state health department to work with tribes on the Wind River Indian Reservation to develop a demonstration health project.

The bill to approve the project failed yesterday to receive the required two-thirds vote for introduction in the House. The vote was 33 in favor to 27 opposed.

Democratic Rep. Patrick Goggles of Ethete urged approval of the bill. He's a member of the Northern Arapaho Tribe.

Goggles said after the vote that supporters will continue to work on the issue and hope they can bring up the issue again through other legislation.

The bill would have authorized the health department to investigate offering Medicaid coverage to Indians and wouldn't have affected the department's budget.

GRAND TETON SUPERINTENDENT

New Grand Teton super recalls visiting park as kid

MOOSE, Wyo. (AP) - The next superintendent of Grand Teton National Park says a family trip to northwest Wyoming as a teenager helped inspire his career with the National Park Service.

David Vela begins his new job in six weeks. He replaces Mary Gibson Scott, who has retired after nine years in the position.

Vela is a Park Service associate director in Washington, D.C. Previously he was southeast regional director and oversaw 66 park units in nine states, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Vela tells the Jackson Hole News & Guide that visiting Grand Teton as a youngster left an "indelible image" in his mind.

Grand Teton covers almost 500 square miles and is home to wolves and grizzly bears as well as the only commercial airport inside a national park.

HIT AND RUN

Man gets up to 10 years for Evansville hit-and-run

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - A man who ran over an 11-year-old boy in Evansville last summer, dragging him under his pickup, says he doesn't remember what happened.

Lawrence Martinez was sentenced to between nine and 10 years in prison Tuesday in Casper for the hit-and-run crash that left the boy critically injured. A tearful Martinez told Judge Thomas Sullins that that he didn't remember what happened and he wanted to ask the boy's family for forgiveness.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that Martinez told investigators that he had five beers before the Aug. 17 incident.

Investigators say he swerved into oncoming traffic and then onto the sidewalk, where the boy was riding his scooter.

Sullins said the maximum sentence was appropriate given his criminal record, including two driving under the influence convictions.

FREMONT PATHOLOGIST

Fremont coroner suggests forensic pathologist hire

LANDER, Wyo. (AP) - The coroner in Fremont County is recommending that the county hire a forensic pathologist.

Coroner Ed McAuslan says Fremont County could save almost $100,000 a year by having a forensic pathologist on staff rather than continuing to send bodies to Colorado for autopsies.

He pitched the case for a forensic pathologist to the county commission Tuesday. The Riverton Ranger reports several commissioners said they support the idea.

McAuslan also said a forensic pathologist would be able to visit homicide scenes in addition to conducting those autopsies in Fremont County.

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