AP News Update

AP News Update

Latest Wyoming news, sports, business and entertainment

AIRMAN DEATH

Airman found dead at Cheyenne base identified

F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. (AP) - The man found dead at F.E. Warren Air Force Base has been identified as 21-year-old Airman 1st Class Dominique Hudson.

The Air Force released Hudson's name Thursday but didn't say how he died or where he was from.

The Air Force Office of Special Investigation is looking into the death.

Hudson's body was found Wednesday on the base in Cheyenne. He was assigned to the 90th Security Forces Group Tactical Response Force.

WYOMING LEGISLATURE

Wyoming Legislature adjourns budget session

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Senior Republican lawmakers and Gov. Matt Mead say the legislative session that wrapped up Thursday leaves Wyoming well-positioned both to meet the state's needs over the coming two years and to save money against possible hard times to come.

Vocal Democrats, however, say the $3.3-billion budget bill that was the crowning achievement of the legislative session that started Feb. 10 salts away too much money in savings. They hammered on the Republican majority for refusing to accept federal money to expand the Medicaid program to offer health insurance to an additional 17,600 low-income adults.

Gov. Matt Mead drew applause from members of the House when he told them coal will continue to be a valuable resource for the nation.

Wyoming is the nation's leading coal-producing state, but it has seen production fall in recent years as the federal government has implemented increasingly tough emissions standards on coal-fired power plants.

The budget bill Mead signed into law this week would allow him to spend up to $500,000 on litigation if he decides it would help the state gain access to deep-water ports in the Northwest for coal exports.

The budget bill includes $175 million for local government funding and nearly $80 million for employee pay raises, enough to give most workers in the executive branch annual raises of about 2.4 percent over the coming two years. Employees in the state's K-12 school system would see less, but they've generally seen annual raises in recent years while many other state employees have not.

SCHOOLS SUPERINTENDENT

Wyoming schools chief says going back to work

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Saying she has waited long enough, state schools Superintendent Cindy Hill vowed Thursday to resume her duties as head of the Department of Education next week.

Her announcement came more than a month after the Wyoming Supreme Court overturned a 2013 law that removed the elected superintendent as a state department head.

Legislators enacted the law after complaints about Hill's performance, and she was moved to a separate state office building the day after the law took effect.

Hill says Gov. Matt Mead and lawmakers have had plenty of time to resolve the issue but have only stalled.

Hill says she will return to the agency's main offices in Cheyenne at 8 a.m. Monday. The move could set up a conflict with Richard Crandall, who was appointed by the governor to run the education department.

WYOMING INMATE-DNA

Bill to compensate exonerated inmates dies

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A bill spelling out how Wyoming could compensate people who served time in prison before being exonerated by DNA evidence died Thursday in the closing hours of the Legislature.

Under the original version of the bill that passed the Senate, anyone exonerated by DNA evidence would have been eligible for up to $500,000.

The House had amended the bill this week to specify that people who were exonerated based on DNA evidence would still have to return to court to prove their innocence before they could collect payment.

A conference committee of House and Senate members failed to reach agreement on the bill on Thursday.

Only one Wyoming inmate has been exonerated by DNA evidence. Andrew Johnson of Cheyenne was released last year after serving 23 years in prison after DNA evidence in the 1989 rape case excluded him as the source and prosecutors dropped charges against him.

Johnson said last year he believed the state should take emergency action to compensate him.

LANDER-BODY FOUND

Fremont coroner trying to identify found body

LANDER, Wyo. (AP) - The Fremont County coroner says he's trying to identify a man whose body was found Feb. 26 in a residence north of Lander.

Coroner Ed McAuslan tells the Riverton Ranger the man apparently had died days or weeks before a neighbor called police to check on the home.

McAuslan says there were no signs the death was suspicious. The body had decomposed before it was discovered.

The coroner says he hopes entering the fingerprints into databases will lead to the man's identification.

PRO BONO CALL

State bar asks for volunteers for pro bono cases

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming State Bar says it's partnering with the Wyoming Center for Legal Aid to get the state's lawyers to commit to at least one pro bono case.

Angie Dorsch of the Legal Aid center says that there is about one attorney in private practice for every 250 Wyoming residents.

But Dorsch says more of the poor are choosing to represent themselves in court because of a shortage of legal aid lawyers.

Attorneys interested in volunteering their services should contact the state bar.

PLANE SEIZED

Authorities place hold on cash, plane in Cody

CODY, Wyo. (AP) - U.S. authorities are holding a plane and nearly $260,000 in cash seized by Cody police pending an investigation.

The Powell Tribune reports that a police dog indicated it smelled narcotics on the Cessna aircraft Feb. 28 at Yellowstone Regional Airport.

No drugs were found, but a search of a hotel room occupied by two men who flew the plane found $258,000 in cash in a duffel bag. The cash and plane were turned over to U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement.

The pilot, Scott Lewis of Englewood, Colo., was cited Monday for two misdemeanor charges alleging the plane was not properly registered and that he flew the aircraft without carrying a license. Lewis told the court he did have a valid license.

He was released on his own recognizance. His companion was not cited.

BISON PROTESTER

Bison-slaughter protester blocks road near park

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) - Park rangers have arrested a man who chained himself to a cement-filled drum to protest the slaughter of bison migrating from Yellowstone National Park.

Twenty-year-old Comfrey Jacobs was arrested Thursday morning and charged with disorderly conduct, entering a closed area around the park's bison capture facility and interfering with government operations.

Jacobs chained himself to the 50-gallon drum and blocked the road to the Stephens Creek corrals near the park border. The Buffalo Field Campaign advocacy group says Jacobs was attempting to stop the shipment of bison to slaughter.

Park officials looking to reduce the bison population in Yellowstone hold the animals in the corrals.

Spokesman Al Nash says 318 bison have been transferred this winter, including roughly 60 animals to an experimental contraception program and the rest to slaughter.

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