AP News Update

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AP News Update

Latest Wyoming news, sports, business and entertainment

KATIE'S LAW

Wyo. Senate defeats "Katie's Law," DNA test bill

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming Senate has shot down a bill that would have required DNA testing of people charged with a felony.

Bill sponsor Cheyenne Republican Sen. Leslie Nutting originally had proposed DNA testing for people upon their arrest on a felony charge. The bill was amended in committee to specify that the testing would be allowed only once the person was charged in court.

Republican Sen. Drew Perkins of Casper spoke against the bill on Monday. He noted that people have a constitutional right against unreasonable government searches and seizures.

The bill is called "Katie's Law" - named in memory of Kathryn Sepich, a New Mexico State University student murdered in 2003 and whose killer was identified with DNA evidence after he was convicted of another crime.

INVOLUNTARY HOSPITALIZATION

Senate defeats bill on involuntary hospitalization

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming Senate has defeated a bill that would have allowed state authorities to hospitalize people involuntarily for mental health treatment without quick judicial review of detention decisions.

The senate defeated the bill on Monday.

It had been sponsored by the Joint Judiciary Committee.

The bill would It would have removed the existing requirement in state law that a judge must review involuntary hospitalization of people for mental health treatment within 72 hours.

Representatives from the Wyoming ACLU, the Wyoming Trial Lawyers' Association and the Wyoming County Attorneys' Association all opposed the bill. They testified at a committee hearing last week that doing away with the judicial hearings would create the potential for people to be held unconstitutionally.

WYOMING EPA

Bills blasting EPA advance in Wyoming Legislature

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming lawmakers are weighing bills aimed at reining in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as many in the state accuse the federal agency of waging a war on coal.

The House Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee on Monday advanced a joint resolution that would call on Congress to require the EPA to respect the state's primacy in setting guidelines to regulate carbon dioxide emissions.

The committee also endorsed another bill that would authorize Wyoming Attorney General Peter Michael to take legal action against the EPA in any venue if he believes the federal agency is exceeding its authority.

Wyoming is the largest coal producing state and is facing off against the EPA on a range of issues regarding federal air quality regulations.

SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT-RECORDS

State says records requests taking much staff time

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The state of Wyoming says employees have spent about 1,800 hours trying to comply with public records requests by schools Superintendent Cindy Hill and others.

Hill is seeking correspondence among employees in the Department of Education and governor's office. She filed a lawsuit after the governor's office balked at her request.

Since then, the state has been pouring over the records Hill and another private citizen are seeking separately and turning over some records to Hill.

Attorneys for the state recently provided a status report in Hill's lawsuit on their work. They say at least 22 employees in five different agencies have been working on the public records requests.

Bruce Moats, Hill's attorney, says the state is still withholding records that the governor's office considers privileged.

COAL-TO-LIQUIDS PLANT

Executive optimistic about coal-to-liquids loan

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - An official with a company developing a facility to turn coal into gasoline and other fuels near Medicine Bow says he's once again optimistic the project could get a federal loan.

The Energy Department has been considering an application by DKRW Advanced Fuels for a $1.75 billion loan guarantee. Company officials say they'd largely given up on the federal financing after the review process stalled.

Now, DKRW Executive Vice President Wade Cline says talks between the company and Energy Department have resumed since Ernest Moniz was named energy secretary last spring. A department spokeswoman declined to comment.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports the development could be a boost for the $2 billion project. Houston-based DKRW has struggled to obtain financing since it first proposed the plant in 2004.

COLD CASE SLAYINGS

Trial in Wyoming old murder postponed until April

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A judge in Cheyenne has again postponed trial for a woman accused of killing her husband and dumping his body in a mine in southeast Wyoming the mid-1970s.

The attorney for 74-year-old Alice Uden, of Chadwick, Mo., says he needs more time to prepare her defense and asked Judge Steven Sharpe to postpone trial a second time.

Sharpe recently rescheduled from March 4 to April 29.

Uden has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder. Prosecutors say she shot 25-year-old Ronald Holtz as he slept in late 1974 or early 1975.

Authorities arrested Uden and her current husband in separate murder cases in September. Seventy-one-year-old Gerald Uden pleaded guilty in November to killing his ex-wife and her two children in central Wyoming in 1980.

Investigators haven't linked the two murder cases.

INMATE SUICIDE

Apparent jail suicide investigated in Park County

CODY, Wyo. (AP) - Authorities in Park County say a jail inmate in Cody apparently has committed suicide.

Sheriff's officials say guards found 58-year-old James Floyd Stewart, Jr., of Powell, unconscious in his cell just before midnight Friday. Stewart was pronounced dead at a hospital at around 10:30 Saturday morning.

Authorities say Stewart was found on the floor of his cell with one end of his trousers wrapped around his neck and the other around a railing near the toilet. They say the railing is about 3 feet off the floor.

Stewart had been arrested on Tuesday. Circuit Court officials say Stewart was charged with felony burglary. His preliminary hearing was set for this Wednesday and he hadn't entered a plea yet.

The Wyoming Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating.

ANGLERS RESCUED

6 rescued from ice floe in Wyoming reservoir

ROCK SPRINGS, Wyo. (AP) - Authorities say they rescued six anglers from an ice floe that broke away from the shore of Flaming Gorge Reservoir.

The rescue occurred Friday but wasn't announced until Monday. No injuries were reported.

The anglers, from Wyoming and Colorado, told Sweetwater County sheriff's deputies they started fishing at 6:30 a.m. Friday and at 9 a.m. realized they were drifting away from shore.

Four Green River Fire Department members trained in ice rescues brought the anglers to shore in a boat. A sheriff's department release didn't say how far the ice had drifted.

The anglers were identified as 48-year-old Dean Hunhoff and 35-year-old Kenton Taylor of Cheyenne, Bryan Cowhan and John Henley, both 36, of Brighton, Colo., 35-year-old Brian Gross of Westminster, Colo., and 34-year-old William Torres of Thornton, Colo.

REFUGE PRONGHORN

About 50 pronghorn tough out Jackson Hole winter

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) - Several pronghorn that didn't migrate out of Jackson Hole last fall are toughing out winter on the National Elk Refuge.

Most of the 400 or so pronghorn in the Jackson Hole herd migrate south each fall to the Upper Green River Basin.

Staying behind in the valley's harsher winter climate can mean tough odds for survival.

Last fall, about 50 pronghorn didn't migrate and are eking out an existence on the National Elk Refuge. Refuge officials say they're apparently surviving OK so far.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports pronghorn tend to avoid eating the alfalfa pellets that refuge officials put out to help elk survive the winter.

A mild winter can help lingering pronghorn but only two of 88 that didn't migrate survived the winter of 1992-93.

HATHAWAY SCHOLARSHIP

House panel endorses Hathaway increase

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The House Education Committee has endorsed two bills that would raise the Hathaway Scholarship award and allow Hathaway money to pay for summer classes.

Both bills were approved on 9-0 votes Monday. The entire House will have to debate both measures, which have already passed the Senate.

The House Education Committee amended the bill increasing the Hathaway Scholarship award.

Senate File 55 left the Senate with a 5 percent increase. The House panel increased it to 10 percent, which was the amount in the original proposal before the Senate changed it.

The idea behind increasing the award is to keep pace with rising college tuition and fees.

The Hathaway Scholarship award has not been increased since it was first started in 2006.

AP-WF-02-25-14 0901GMT

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