CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The full Wyoming Senate has given preliminary approval to a sweeping education reform bill that would drastically reduce the administrative role of state's top public schools official. The bill, called Senate File 104, passed by a vote of 19-to-10 after a two-hour hearing on Monday afternoon.
The bill would remove the Wyoming superintendent of public instruction as head of the state Department of Education. It would create a new director of the agency who would be appointed by the governor.
Passing the bill would be a blow for Superintendent of Public Instruction Cindy Hill. It would leave her post essentially a ceremonial position. Legislative leaders proposed the measure after wrangling with Hill increasingly over the past year over how the state should implement education accountability measures.
In other news from the legislature:
A Wyoming legislative committee is recommending that the state raise fuel taxes. The House Revenue Committee voted Monday morning to recommend approval of a bill to hike fuel taxes by a dime. The tax would increase from 14 cents to 24 cents a gallon on gasoline. The bill now advances to the House.
Gov. Matt Mead is pushing the tax increase. He says it would raise more than $70 million a year for state and local road projects. The governor says increasing gasoline taxes would allow out-of-state motorists to foot much of the bill for maintaining the state's highway system.
The Wyoming House has given preliminary approval to a bill that would end mandatory life sentences for juvenile killers. The House on Monday approved a bill that would change Wyoming law so that juveniles convicted of first-degree murder would be eligible for parole after serving 25 years. The legislation is moving in this session to bring Wyoming law into compliance with a recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling that outlawed mandatory life sentences for juvenile killers.