USFS office will not be annexed in Saratoga, utility hookups will continue

The Town of Saratoga will not annex the U.S. Forest Service compound to the town as planned last year. The annexation was conceived as part of the process of connecting the district ranger’s office and the rest of the compound to the town’s water and sewer project.

Two Saratoga boards have recommended that Town Hall abandon the annexation process, but continue with the hookup of utility service. Emma Diercks has the story.

 

 

Photo: Cali O’Hare/Bigfoot 99.

Rawlins woman found guilty of impaired driving

In Rawlins, a jury found 53-year-old Marie Moeller guilty of driving impaired – high on pain killers and methamphetamine. Cali O’Hare was inside the courtroom for the final day of Moeller’s trial and filed this report.

 

 

File photo.

Medicaid work requirement bill dies in last hours of legislature

By Jim O’Reilly

It was a wild a and final day at the legislature. The house and senate wrapped up their business early this morning, well after the midnight deadline to adjourn.

Before adjourning early this morning, the legislature overrode several of Governor Mark Gordon’s 14 vetoes in the budget bill.

In the mad rush to the finish line Wednesday, the senate worked through a flurry of final readings of bills. Among them was Senate File 144. The hot-button legislation requiring a 20-hour work, training or volunteer requirement for some Medicaid recipients died on third reading in the house.

Early support for the bill waned under criticisms for its potential unintended consequences.

Senate File 144 sought a so-called 1115 waiver from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. If Washington had approved the waiver, it would have required able-bodied a limited number of Medicaid recipients in state to put in 20 hours a week in any combination of work, job training or volunteering.

Senator Larry Hicks of Baggs authored the bill, which passed the senate by a wide margin. In the meantime, a state department of health accounting determined 95 percent of the state’s 60,000 Medicaid recipients would be exempt from the requirements.

After various exemptions were considered no more than 1,700 people would meet the work requirements. A second report showed the state could save about $5 million if 80 percent of the 1,700 recipients were moved off Medicaid by the bill.

Opponents, like Charles Pelkey of Laramie, said the state might save money but asked at what cost.

It would be more than hospitals and clinics that might have felt the pinch. The burden also would fall onto private businesses and social organizations, said Representative Jamie Flitner. A rancher from Buffalo, Flitner said training people who want to work is difficult and costly enough.

Flitner added that most of the 1,700 people who be affected by the legislation are 18 to 26-year-olds who have aged out of the foster program. She thought they could be helped without passing a new law.

State government itself would be burdened by the legislation, said Representative Lloyd Laursen of Fremont County. Laursen said if the legislation passed the Department of Health would have to put in the work to apply for the waiver knowing that Washington has never granted a waiver to a state that has not expanded Medicaid.

The Wyoming Legislature has opposed expansion in the past. After flirting with SF 144 on first reading, the House yesterday took a step back from expanding Medicaid in order to trim its rolls. Both Representatives Donald Burkhart and Jerry Paxton of Carbon County voted against passage.

 

Black Hills Energy begins service upgrades in Saratoga next month

In March, Black Hills Energy will begin replacing natural gas mains and service lines in alleyways throughout the Town of Saratoga. This project is intended to enhance safety and reliability of Black Hills Energy’s service. Emma Diercks has the story.

 

 

Sports: Regional basketball tournament preview

The hardwood heats up as the 1A State and 3A Regional basketball tournaments tip off this afternoon. Joey Saverine previews the first two rounds.

More Highlights:
  • Cowboy basketball falls to Fresno State on the road.
  • Cowgirl basketball sees their nine-game win streak come to an end.
  • Wyoming football at NFL Pro Day.

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