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SCIENCE STANDARDS

Repeal of science standards block advances

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Senate Education Committee has approved legislation that would allow the state to consider adopting all or part of the Next Generation Science Standards.

The committee voted 5-0 on Monday to advance House Bill 23 and send it to the Senate floor. The bill has already passed the House.

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports the proposal would repeal a provision attached to last year's budget bill that prohibits the state Board of Education from spending money to study or debate the K-12 science standards.

The standards are a popular educational framework created by national science groups and representatives from 26 states.

Lawmakers added the provision last year amid concerns over how the standards treat climate change and evolution.

HOSPITAL COSTS

Wyoming Senate advances hospital funding bill

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming Senate has given preliminary approval to a bill that would appropriate $5 million to help hospitals cover the cost of treating uninsured people.

The Senate on Monday gave preliminary approval to the bill, sponsored by Cowley Republican Sen. Ray Peterson.

Monday's vote follows Senate action Friday to reject some $120 million a year in federal Medicaid expansion funds. The expansion would have offered health insurance coverage to some 17,600 low-income state residents.

Peterson says his bill would send the message to constituents and local hospital administrators that lawmakers recognize hospitals are providing uncompensated care.

Casper Republican Sen. Charles Scott is chairman of the Senate Labor, Health and Social Services Committee. He says the bill would give the state a little breathing room, but wouldn't solve the problem permanently.

SCHOOL SAFETY

State House gives initial approval to school safety bill

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming House of Representatives has given its initial approval to a bill that would create a school safety and security unit in the state's Division of Criminal Investigation.

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports the security unit would establish and administer a comprehensive statewide school safety and security program. That includes running an anonymous tip line to let students and others report unsafe, dangerous, violent or criminal activities in schools.

The bill's supporters want to take $410,000 out of the School Foundation Program Account to pay for the five permanent full-time positions. The legislation also includes an appropriation of $225,000 to pay for equipment and software.

The proposal initially approved Monday faces two more readings in the House. It has not yet been considered by the state Senate.

DISCRIMINATION

Wyoming Senate advances anti-discrimination bill

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A bill to outlaw discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity is moving forward in the Wyoming State Senate.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports the Senate on Monday voted to approve the bill for the second time.

Laramie Democrat Sen. Chris Rothfuss is sponsor of the legislation. It would add the prohibitions against discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity to a range of state laws that now prohibit discrimination based on factors including race, age, disability and political affiliation.

Supporters of the bill say some gay and transgender Wyomingites have experienced discrimination, including being fired or physically assaulted.

Bill opponents include the Roman Catholic Diocese of Cheyenne. A lobbyist for the diocese says it would give gays a superior status in society.

DEATH PENALTY

Bill to allow firing squad executions clears House committee

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A bill to allow the use of firing squads to execute condemned Wyoming inmates continues to advance this legislative session.

The House Judiciary Committee on Monday voted to recommend the full House approve the bill. It already has passed in the Senate.

Supporters say a shortage of drugs used for lethal injections means Wyoming needs to adopt an alternative way to execute inmates.

Steve Lindly of the Wyoming Department of Corrections told the committee that the state last executed an inmate in 1992. The state now has no inmates on death row.

Opponents say the firing squad would be too barbaric. Representatives from the Wyoming Association of Churches and the Roman Catholic Dioceses of Cheyenne urged lawmakers to reject the bill, saying they oppose the death penalty.

FOREST BEETLE EPIDEMIC

Forest officials change tactics as beetle epidemic wanes

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - National forest managers are reopening campgrounds and changing tactics as an outbreak of mountain pine beetles continues to wane in Wyoming and Colorado.

Now that beetle-killed trees are being cleared out of campgrounds and away from roads, forest officials say they're emphasizing projects to keep the dead trees from exacerbating wildfires.

Aerial surveys show that new acreage infested by mountain pine beetles in Colorado last year dwindled to levels not seen since the outbreak began in the 1990s.

In Wyoming, mountain pine beetles continued to be active on about 100,000 acres. That's up slightly from 2013 but still far below the more than 1 million acres of active infestation in 2008-2009.

Overflight data continue to show outbreaks of the similar spruce beetle increasing in both Colorado and Wyoming.

CREDIT UNION ROBBERY

Casper man admits robbing credit union

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - A 21-year-old Casper man has pleaded guilty to stealing $48,000 from a safe at a credit union where his mother worked.

Kevin Walsh pleaded guilty Friday robbing the Family First Credit Union in Casper on June 14. A plea agreement recommends he participate in a boot camp program meant. A sentencing date has not been set.

Prosecutors alleged Walsh used his mother's key to enter the building and that he knew the safe's code from previous observations and because it hadn't been changed from the simple code set by the manufacturer.

Walsh said he took the money to help his family. Court records said he became a suspect when police learned he planned to buy a $20,000 car.

Investigators recovered all but $260 of the missing money in the crawl space under Walsh's home.

GILLETTE POLICE LAWSUIT

Gillette settles civil rights lawsuit over woman's arrest

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) - The city of Gillette has reached a $37,000 settlement with a woman who filed a civil rights lawsuit after she said police tackled her and used a stun gun on her after bringing her 12-year-old son home after a traffic stop.

The boy had been driving a vehicle with an unidentified passenger who was too intoxicated to drive.

April J. Fox filed the complaint in November 2013, two years after her arrest. It argued officers entered her residence at 1:30 a.m. on Nov. 25, 2011, without a warrant and refused numerous requests to leave. Fox argued officers used excessive force and unlawfully arrested her.

The Caser Star-Tribune reports the city does not acknowledge liability in the settlement, which was reached in December. Insurance companies for the city and the police officers will pay the settlement.

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