AP News Update

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AP News Update

Latest Wyoming news, sports, business and entertainment

GAY MARRIAGE-WYOMING

Lawsuit by 4 couples seeks Wyoming gay marriage

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Four gay couples and a gay rights advocacy group have sued Gov. Matt Mead and other officials in an attempt to get Wyoming to recognize gay marriage.

They filed the suit Wednesday in Laramie County District Court.

Wyoming law specifies that marriage occurs between males and females. The lawsuit seeks to require state officials to both recognize gay marriages performed outside Wyoming and to perform gay marriage inside the state.

The plaintiffs are the Cheyenne-based gay rights group Wyoming Equality and four couples - two who were married outside Wyoming and two who want to wed in Wyoming.

Mead spokesman Renny MacKay said he hadn't seen the lawsuit and had no comment.

WYOMING BUDGET

Gov. Mead signs Wyoming budget bill

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Gov. Matt Mead has signed the $3.3-billion budget bill that will cover state funding for the coming two years.

Mead made only minor line-item vetoes to the bill. House Speaker Tom Lubnau, a Gillette Republican, says he doesn't expect lawmakers will push to override any vetoes.

In a prepared statement, Mead commended lawmakers for their work on the budget, saying the state remains fiscally conservative and well positioned for the future.

The budget bill includes a little less than $80 million for state employee salary increases. Executive branch employees and workers at the University of Wyoming would see raises averaging about 2.4 percent a year. Employees in the state's K-12 school system will see slightly lower raises.

The budget bill also calls for $175 million in payments to local governments.

SPECIAL SESSION

Education panel tasked with superintendent case

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A state legislative committee is being tasked with trying to come up with solutions to a recent state Supreme Court ruling involving the powers of the state superintendent of public instruction.

The Supreme Court ruled in January that a law enacted last year taking away many of the superintendent's duties was unconstitutional.

Legislative leaders said the ruling came too late for lawmakers to address the matter during the current budget session, which is nearly done.

So the legislative Management Council on Wednesday gave the task to another legislative panel, the 14-member Joint Education Interim Committee. The committee consists of both the Senate and House education committees.

The Management Council set a tentative April 30 deadline for the committee to draft bills and possibly recommend a special session.

CODY LAB

House approves loan program bill aimed at Cody Lab

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming House of Representatives has amended a bill to specify that the state treasurer must secure an adequate security interest in projects the state could support through a new large-project loan program.

The House on Wednesday voted 45-to-14 to approve the loan program bill that supporters say will allow the state to lend money to a pharmaceutical company that's considering expansion of its Cody lab.

Cody Republican Sen. Hank Coe is sponsoring the bill. He has said the program would allow the state to lend $24 million to Lannett Co. Inc., which is considering a nearly $100 million expansion of its Cody lab.

The Senate on Wednesday voted to concur with the House amendment.

XGR--WYOMING INMATE-DNA

House throws hurdle in front of exonerated man

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Andrew Johnson may have to go back to court if he wants Wyoming to compensate him for the 23 years he wrongfully spent behind bars.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports the House passed Senate File 30, which requires individuals exonerated based on DNA evidence to return to court to prove their innocence in return for compensation.

In the original version of the bill, anyone exonerated by DNA evidence would have been eligible for up to $500,000 without having to return to court. But Wednesday's amendment added the court requirement.

The bill heads to a joint conference committee with the Senate before it can to Gov. Matt Mead's desk.

DNA evidence exonerated Johnson of a 1989 rape conviction. The bill was to provide him compensation.

HATHAWAY SCHOLARSHIP

Legislature approves 5 percent Hathaway increase

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Recipients of Wyoming's state-funded college scholarship will see an increase in their awards under a bill approved by the Legislature.

The bill provides a 5 percent increase in the Hathaway Scholarship awards to help make up for rising college tuition and fees. The Hathaway Scholarship award hasn't been increased since it was first started in 2006.

The measure now goes to Gov. Matt Mead.

The bill originally contained a 10 percent increase, but the Senate cut it in half over concerns that the scholarship fund may not be able to handle the 10 percent increase in the long run.

Supporters of the legislation say some increase is better than none and they hope to look at more increases in the future.

The scholarship is awarded based on academic performance.

AIRMAN DEATH

Airman found dead at FE Warren Air Force Base

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Authorities are investigating the death of an airman at F.E. Warren Air Force Base.

Base officials said the active-duty airman was found dead on the base Wednesday but haven't released any details about the airman died.

F.E. Warren oversees intercontinental ballistic missile silos for the region.

TEA PARTY-GOP

Park County tea partier survives leadership vote

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - A tea party member of the Park County GOP has survived a mainstream Republican effort to oust him from leadership.

Bob Berry's membership on the party's executive committee was unsuccessfully challenged during a meeting Monday night because of his opposition to the area's longtime state senator, Hank Coe, to step down.

Berry's phone number appeared in an advertisement calling for people to sign a petition asking Coe to resign. Berry and other tea party members are upset about Coe's efforts to strip power from schools superintendent Cindy Hill.

Park County Republican Terry Hinkle told the Casper-Star Tribune that Berry is focusing more on the tea party than his responsibilities to the GOP.

Wyoming's tea party membership, as a percentage of the population, is the second highest in the nation.

FLOODING

Minor flooding in southeast Wyoming

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Melting snow is causing minor flooding in parts of Laramie County in southeast Wyoming.

The flooding closed a 45-mile stretch of U.S. 85 between Cheyenne and LaGrange on Wednesday morning.

The National Weather Service issued a flood advisory for the county until 1:30 p.m. Wednesday.

It says the flooding is caused by a combination of melting snow, more snowfall Tuesday night and frozen ground that doesn't soak in the water.

Areas under the advisory include Cheyenne, Burns, Crystal Lake Reservoir, Pine Bluffs and F.E. Warren Air Force Base.

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