AP News Update

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AP News Update

Latest Wyoming news, sports, business and entertainment

WYOMING MEDICAID

House kills Labor Committee Medicaid bill

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming House has shot down a bill to expand the state's Medicaid program.

The House on Thursday voted against a bill endorsed by the Joint Labor, Health and Social Services Committee. It would have provided reduced Medicaid coverage for over 17,000 people in the state.

Rep. Sue Wilson, a Cheyenne Republican, spoke for the bill Thursday. She says getting more people health insurance would cut hospital losses on uncompensated care.

The Senate voted Wednesday against another committee bill that would have allowed the use of Medicaid funds to pay private health insurance premiums.

Gov. Matt Mead told lawmakers Monday he opposes expanding Medicaid. He says he doesn't trust federal promises to continue to foot the cost of the expansion.

Other Medicaid bills sponsored by individual legislators are still pending.

SAME SEX MARRIAGE

Wyoming House defeats same-sex marriage bill

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming House on Thursday defeated bills on both sides of the same-sex marriage issue.

The House first defeated a bill that would have changed state law to allow same-sex marriages.

Democratic Rep. Cathy Connolly of Laramie sponsored the bill. It would have removed the state's current legal specification that marriage is a civil contract between a man and a woman.

The House voted 41-to-17 against Connolly's bill on Thursday.

The House later Thursday voted down a bill sponsored by Casper Republican Rep. Gerald Gay that would have specified that Wyoming wouldn't recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere.

Cheyenne Rep. Dan Zwonitzer spoke against the bill, saying the "Equality State" shouldn't take a step backward.

The House voted against introducing Gay's bill by a vote of 31-to-29.

SCHOOL SAFETY

School safety proposals get mixed support

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Several school safety bills are getting mixed support in the state Legislature.

On Thursday, the House of Representatives declined to introduce a bill that helps rural school districts hire police officers who would be posted in schools.

The House also defeated introduction of another bill requiring school districts to implement plans for handling a school crisis.

However, representatives did approve introduction of a bill that would allow local school boards to establish policies that might include arming and training school staff. And they gave initial approval of a bill helping districts install cameras on school buses to catch motorists who illegally pass buses stopped to pick up and drop off students.

Across the hall, senators also voted to introduce a bill that would allow teachers to be armed.

SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT

Senate introduces special session bill

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The state Senate has approved introduction of a bill aimed at dealing with the fallout from the state Supreme Court decision in the superintendent of public instruction case.

The bill initially fell short of the two-thirds vote necessary for introduction Thursday morning. But senators reconsidered it Thursday afternoon and gave it the needed margin.

The state Supreme Court ruled 3-2 that a law enacted last year taking away many of the superintendent's duties was unconstitutional.

But lawmakers say they don't have time to deal with the matter during the current 20-day budget session.

The bill would create a committee to study the superintendent's duties and make recommendations to the Legislature, which could then be called into special session.

Separately, a constitutional amendment to eliminate the superintendent's office failed introduction.

GUNS IN SCHOOLS

Wyo. House advances bill to allow guns in schools

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming House has advanced a bill that would permit local school boards to allow teachers and other school workers who hold concealed carry permits to carry guns at schools.

The House voted 54-to-6 on Thursday in favor of a bill sponsored by Cheyenne Republican John Eklund.

Eklund says he believes the state needs to act on the issue urgently. He says there's little if any law enforcement in many rural areas and says school workers need to be ready to protect themselves and their students.

Rep. Kendell Kroeker, an Evansville Republican, spoke against the bill. He's a co-sponsor of another pending bill that would allow anyone who holds a concealed carry permit, not only school employees, to bring guns onto school and college campuses.

VOTING RIGHTS

House drops bill to restore felons' voting rights

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming House has defeated a bill that would have allowed nonviolent felons to get their civil rights restored immediately after serving their sentences or finishing parole or probation.

The House on Thursday failed to give the bill the two-thirds vote required for introduction.

Sponsor Dan Zwonitzer, a Cheyenne Republican, said Wyoming is among the most restrictive states in regard to restoring rights as voting and gun ownership to felons.

Under the current law, Wyoming felons must wait five years after serving their sentences and apply to the board of parole.

Attorney General Eric Holder this week called on Wyoming and other states to restore felons' voting rights. He said doing so would fix flaws in the criminal justice system that have a disproportionate effect on racial minorities.

TRIBES-AIR QUALITY

US EPA agrees to stay reservation decision

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has agreed to stay its recent decision that over 1 million acres around Riverton remain legally Indian Country.

The federal agency announced the stay on Thursday. Both the state and the Northern Arapaho Tribe recently asked for the stay.

The EPA in December announced that it had concluded a 1905 federal law opening part of the Wind River Indian Reservation to settlement by non-Indians didn't extinguish the land's reservation status.

The federal agency's conclusion prompted sharp criticism from Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead and the promise of a state legal challenge.

The EPA addressed the boundary issue when it granted a request from the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribes to treat their joint reservation as a separate state under the federal Clean Air Act.

HOLDUP THWARTED

Locked door allegedly thwarts Wyo. bank holdup

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Sheriff's officials say employees of a bank in a small town in southeast Wyoming unwittingly thwarted a holdup by locking the front door.

The bank employees went about their day not knowing they'd been targeted.

Laramie County sheriff's officials say they arrested 20-year-old Cody L. Dysart and 25-year-old William T. McCurdy on Wednesday, and 28-year-old Derrick A. Gifford on Thursday.

Sheriff's officials say employees of the Burns Bank in Burns went inside to open up early on Jan. 31. They locked the door behind them until opening time.

The men from Cheyenne allegedly planned to rob the bank but encountered the locked door. The men allegedly fled after hearing on a police scanner a report about a truck they'd stolen.

Attempts to reach the men in jail were unsuccessful.

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