Wyoming News Update

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Latest Wyoming news, sports, business and entertainment.

Hundreds attend hearing on Wyoming $360M K-12 budget crisis

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Several hundred people are listening to state lawmakers discuss a higher sales tax, shorter school year and other possible solutions to Wyoming's education crisis.

Nearly every seat in the auditorium at Cheyenne East High School is filled — rare turnout for the House Education Committee.

Wyoming faces a $360 million K-12 shortfall amid declining state revenue caused by downturns in the coal, oil and natural gas industries.

Proposals in a bill before the Wyoming House include changing how the state calculates enrollment, shortening the school year by five days and freezing special-education funding.

Other ideas include raising the state sales tax from 4 to 4.5 percent. The additional revenue would go to schools.

The bill also proposes establishing a special committee to take a closer look at the problem.

VA buys land for Wyoming's first veterans national cemetery

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming will soon have its first veterans national cemetery.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announced Monday that it purchased about five acres near Cheyenne for a VA National Cemetery. The agency paid the city of Cheyenne about $64,000 for the land.

Interim Under Secretary for Memorial Affairs Ronald E. Walters says the Cheyenne cemetery will help reach veterans in rural parts of Wyoming without reasonable access to a national or state veterans cemetery. The new cemetery will serve nearly 22,000 veterans, their spouses and eligible family members.

The cemetery will include burial sites, above-ground columbarium niches, a memorial wall, flagpoles, a memorial walkway, roads and other infrastructure.

The Oregon Trail Veterans Cemetery at Evansville is run by the state. Wyoming's congressional delegation welcomed the announcement.

Snowpack levels look good for Wyoming so far this winter

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Many Wyoming communities are seeing above-average snowpack levels thanks to a cold and wet winter.

The Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports monitors say snowpack ranges from about 125 percent above normal in southeast Wyoming to 160 percent of normal in the central and southeast portions of the state.

National Weather Service meteorologist Richard Emanuel says recent cold and wet weather near Cheyenne may be the result of La Nina, an occasional but natural cooling of the equatorial Pacific and the counterpart of the El Nino climate pattern.

While winter has been good for southern Wyoming snowpack, Chris Nicholson from the state's climate office says he's hoping above-average snow predictions will materialize in northeast Wyoming, which has recently been the driest part of the state.

Guns bills advance in Wyoming House

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Several bills to loosen Wyoming's gun restrictions have won preliminary approval in the state House.

Representatives on Monday advanced bills that would allow people to carry guns on college campuses and in government meetings and allow school districts to decide whether to arm some school staff.

House Bills 136, 137 and 194 face two more votes on the House floor before they can go to the Senate for additional debate.

Supporters of the measures to allow people with concealed carry permits to bring guns on college campuses and in government meetings say it is a fundamental right and would make those places safer.

Proponents of the school gun bill say it would help protect rural schools that face long response times from law enforcement.

Man pleads guilty to transporting abducting Montana girl

MISSOULA, Mont. (AP) — A registered violent offender has pleaded guilty to a federal charge of transporting a minor with the intent to engage in criminal sexual activity.

Federal prosecutors say 60-year-old Rodney Lee Zahn entered his plea on U.S. District Court in Missoula on Jan. 17. He faces a mandatory minimum of 10 years in prison when he is sentenced on May 18.

Prosecutors say Zahn befriended a developmentally delayed 16-year-old girl and her family and left Sheridan with the girl early on Aug. 3. They were located the next day in Cheyenne, Wyoming and Zahn was arrested.

Prosecutors say Zahn admitted he had sexual intercourse with the girl twice and that he knew she was 16.

House panel votes 'no' on presidential primary election

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A bill that would have established a presidential primary election in Wyoming has failed in a state House committee.

The House Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee voted 6-3 Monday against House Bill 201.

One of the chief concerns from committee members and others was how to pay for the election, which could cost an estimated $300,000 to $500,000.

County clerks also voiced concern by finding poll judges for a third election when they already have trouble finding judges for the primary and general elections.

It was suggested that the topic might be good for an interim study.

Wyoming's political parties use the caucus system for presidential races. The system caused much confusion in both the Republican and Democratic presidential races last year from people unfamiliar with the process.

SheridanWyoming.com

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