Wyoming’s 65th Legislature sworn in
By Jim O’Reilly
In Cheyenne, shortly after high noon on Tuesday…
Senator Eli Bebout of Fremont County, who in one of his last acts as president of the senate, gaveled the senior chamber to order, ushering in the 65th Wyoming Legislature.
Bebout later turned the gavel over to Drew Perkins of Natrona County, who takes over as senate president. Both are Republicans in a legislature where Democrats are heavily outnumbered. Only 7 of the 60 house members are Democrats. Only two of the 30 senators are Democrats. Of the 60 representatives in the house, seven are members of the minority party.
In one of the first orders of business in the house, members voted Steve Harshman of Natrona County Speaker. After taking the oath of office, Harshman told the House their job is to solve problems. Chief among those problems is reducing a built-in 250-million dollar operating deficit in the biennial budget. Harshman said the fix will be in prioritizing and efficiency, not through any more cuts.
Harshman also told lawmakers that the state’s savings accounts are off-limits because they have been the most reliable source of revenue the state has had over the last decade. They may even be more dependable now that interest rates are rising.
Newly elected senate president Perkins said lawmakers need to look at broadening the state’s tax structure without raising taxes on residents.
The legislative session lasts for seven weeks with the last day for the third reading in second house slated for February 25th.
Skill game vendors argue legality
In other news, the vendors who brought “skill games” into Wyoming establishments have filed a lawsuit against the Attorney General’s opinion that the machines are illegal because they permit gambling. They argue that the games show what the payout will be and have a skill component instead of being based on chance. Emma Dierks reports.
Parking lot expansion begins at county property in Rawlins
In an update to a story previously reported by Bigfoot 99, county officials have begun the demolition of a property purchased by the Carbon County Commissioners back in November. By late Tuesday morning, the single family home on the property had started coming down, as officials begin to prepare the land for an extended parking lot. Cali O’Hare has the update.
Update: Semi-trailer collides with WHP car on I-80
By Jim O’Reilly
The empty trailer of a commercial 18-wheeler slid into a Wyoming Highway Patrol car north of Rawlins on Monday afternoon. A release from the WHP said patrolman assisting a stranded motorist on snow-covered Wyoming 287 near milepost 4 when the empty trailer of an oncoming truck drifted into his vehicle.
A video of the incident is posted on the Bigfoot 99 Facebook page.
It shows conditions were windy with blowing and drifting snow. WYDOT had issued an extreme blow over risk for high profile vehicles in the vicinity. The patrolman was wearing his seat belt in his vehicle at the time of the collision and was not injured. No other injuries were reported.
Voting legislation added to proposed cross-over voting bill
In the state senate, another piece of voting legislation has joined the proposed cross-over voting bill in an attempt to address issues that have cropped up in recent elections. Senate File 65 presents open ranked choice elections—a kind of free-for-all approach to primary voting. Emma Diercks has the story.
Sports: Saratoga looks ahead to important conference slate
The Saratoga boys basketball team split their two games coming out of the break, and will start looking ahead to a heavy conference schedule. Joey Saverine has the story.
- Cowboy basketball loses by 30 to San Diego State.
- Cowgirl basketball set to host SDSU.
- Wyoming football’s Keegan Cryder named Freshman All-American.