Good morning, and welcome to Cowboy State Daily radio news for Monday, February 12, 2024!
Today’s top stories:
Wyoming legislators to consider $10.8B budget
Former Casper Mayor suing over 2022 plane crash
Hunting tag sticker shock: $2,000 for non-resident elk
Saratoga councilman and father of 3 dies in avalanche
Solar-sheep expert weighs in on $500M project near Glenrock
The following radio stations are airing Cowboy State Daily Radio on weekday mornings, afternoons and evenings. More radio stations will be added soon.
KYDT 103.1 FM – Sundance
KBFS 1450 AM — Sundance
KYCN 1340 AM / 92.7 FM — Wheatland
KZEW 101.7 FM — Wheatland
KANT 104.1 FM — Guernsey
KZQL 105.5 FM — Casper
KMXW 92.5 FM — Casper
KBDY 102.1 FM — Saratoga
KTGA 99.3 FM — Saratoga
KJAX 93.5 FM — Jackson
KZWY 106.3 FM — Sheridan
KROE 930 AM / 103.9 FM — Sheridan
KWYO 1410 AM / 106.9 FM — Sheridan
KYOY 92.3 FM Hillsdale-Cheyenne / 106.9 FM Cheyenne
KRAE 1480 AM — Cheyenne
KDLY 97.5 FM — Lander
KOVE 1330 AM — Lander
KZMQ 100.3/102.3 FM — Cody, Powell, Medicine Wheel, Greybull, Basin, Meeteetse
KKLX 96.1 FM — Worland, Thermopolis, Ten Sleep, Greybull
KCGL 104.1 FM — Cody, Powell, Basin, Lovell, Clark, Red Lodge, MT
KTAG 97.9 FM — Cody, Powell, Basin
KCWB 92.1 FM — Cody, Powell, Basin
KVGL 105.7 FM — Worland, Thermopolis, Basin, Ten Sleep
KODI 1400 AM / 96.7 FM — Cody, Powell, Lovell, Basin, Clark, Red Lodge
KWOR 1340 AM / 104.7 FM — Worland, Thermopolis, Ten Sleep
KREO 93.5 FM — Sweetwater and Sublette Counties
KGOS 1490 AM — Goshen County
KERM 98.3 FM — Goshen County
Check with individual radio stations for airtime of the newscasts.
Bill Sailing Through To Mandate Licenses for Wyoming Abortion Doctors, Clinics
A bill that would more strictly regulate abortions in Wyoming, including licensing clinics and doctors that do them, is quickly moving through the State Legislature.
House Bill 148 passed the Senate Labor, Health and Social Services Committee on a 4-1 vote Wednesday morning and then passed the Senate on its first reading by a large majority voice vote later that day.
The bill passed the House last week on a 53-9 vote.
The legislation classifies surgical abortion clinics in Wyoming as ambulatory surgical centers and under the Wyoming Department of Health’s oversight for licensing them and their physicians.
Physicians who violate the bill would receive a minimum associated penalty of at least one year in prison.
State Sen. Brian Boner, R-Douglas, spoke in favor of the bill Wednesday on the Senate floor, mentioning how 23 states have laws regulating how facilities perform abortions.
“This is dealing with basic patient safety,” he said. “Health care is highly regulated throughout this state and this country.”
Under the legislation, a surgical abortion center would be considered any facility other than a hospital that provides surgical abortions and performs no fewer than three first‑trimester surgical abortions in any one month or no less than one second‑trimester or third‑trimester surgical abortion in any one year.
Since it was introduced, an amendment was added to the bill by Rep. Chip Neiman, R-Hulett, requiring that at least 48 hours before a woman receives drugs to perform a chemical abortion, she must have an ultrasound.
According to the legislation, this must be done “in order to determine the gestational age of the unborn child, to determine the location of the pregnancy, to verify a viable intrauterine pregnancy, to provide the pregnant woman the opportunity to view the active ultrasound of the unborn child and hear the heartbeat of the unborn child if the heartbeat is audible.”
This amendment was a holdover from individual legislation brought by Sen. Bo Biteman, R-Ranchester, that wasn’t introduced earlier in the legislative session.
Opposition And Support
Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie, spoke against the bill and the amendment, questioning who it’s designed to protect.
“The only effect of all this legislation, as I see, is really trying to terrorize women that are interested in having abortions and make it very challenging for any doctors to provide those abortions at the risk of potentially violating laws and ending up in prison,” he said.
Facilities that offer chemical abortions also would be covered under the bill, but like surgical abortions, there is only one facility that offers this service in Wyoming. This was another amendment added to the bill after its original creation.
Sen. Charles Scott, R-Casper, said his church supports the right to abortion, and as such opposes the bill, which he views as an intrusion on religion.
Sen. Dave Kinskey, R-Sheridan, who describes himself as pro-life, disagreed, viewing HB 148 as “good policy.”
He said prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision overturning the federal law legalizing abortion in its 2022 Dobbs decision, knee surgeries were subject to more oversight than abortions.
Since this decision, Kinskey said “common sense” regulation on abortion has taken over, which he believes will eliminate abortion clinics performing unsafe practices.
“It seems common sense,” Kinskey said of the bill. “I think as a simple public health measure, there’s a case to be made for this.”
About That License
Another feature of the bill states that no person shall perform a surgical abortion in Wyoming who is not a licensed physician with admitting privileges at a hospital located no more than 10 miles from the abortion clinic. Current law for other surgical procedures in Wyoming is 50 miles.
Boner said the hospitalization requirement is there to provide a “continuity of care” in the event of a botched abortion and address any other unexpected medical issues in a timely manner.
Each surgical abortion performed in Wyoming would have to be reported to the Department of Health with attestation that the performing physician was licensed and in good standing with the Wyoming Board of Medicine.
“I don’t understand how this isn’t the biggest of big governments,” Rothfuss said.
Rothfuss said the Legislature would never take this disclosure approach with issues like vaccination status.
HB 148 would not go into effect or no longer be active in the event that Wyoming’s laws prohibiting most forms of abortion are upheld in court.
Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.
SF0054 passes the Wyoming Senate 29-2
Senate Vice President Dave Kinskey (SD-22) applauded the amendments to, and subsequent passage of SF0054 Homeowner tax exemption, an immediate tax relief proposal that will make 46 percent of homes property tax free.
According to a release, the bill was amended to embrace the key elements of Kinskey’s original property tax legislation, SF121 Property tax-homeowner’s exemption. SF0054 passed the Wyoming Senate 29-2.
“The Wyoming Senate made critical changes to this bill that will provide the real property tax relief Wyoming people need now,” Kinskey said. “I am grateful to my Senate colleagues, who agreed this was a good and appropriate solution to get help to the Wyoming people as soon as possible. It was a collective effort with a lot of hard work and agreement behind it.”
The bill, which would become effective this year, would apply to all residences and would completely eliminate property taxes for homes valued at $200,000 and lower. The legislation would uphold stable funding for local governments who rely on property taxes to function.
“While I didn’t get everything I fought for, this is a solid step towards real property tax relief for Wyoming homeowners,” the District 22 Senator added. “I want to thank my fellow legislators for supporting the majority of my plan to significantly increase the homestead exemption. The plan significantly lowers property taxes for everyone and entirely eliminates property taxes for nearly 46 percent of Wyoming homeowners.”
Wyoming property taxes are on track to increase more than 80% by 2026 to more than $700 million, according to Kinskey. That includes a nearly 40% increase over the past two years. SF0054 ensures a good share of that money goes back into taxpayers’ pockets.
At least 18 property tax bills were introduced in the House and Senate at the start of the Budget Session. Senator Kinskey said the volume of legislation points to the Legislature’s commitment to passing reforms. However, according to Kinskey, there are problems with some bills’ approach. Exemptions based on a percentage of a home’s value, for example, favor the ultra-wealthy while offering little relief to low-income families. Likewise, a cap on future annual increases does not give taxpayers relief for the spike in tax bills they’ve suffered over recent years. This tax bill, though, gives immediate and real relief for the burden taxpayers have suffered.
Last year the Legislature approved funding for very limited local property tax relief, based on a homeowner’s income.
“You shouldn’t have to provide your income tax return or prove you lack assets to get a tax cut,” Kinskey said. “The bill we passed affords relief to everyone, without the burdensome application process. Senate File 54 provides equitable relief for all residents. No special qualifications, no costly paperwork, no hoops to jump through—just an immediate and level tax cut to every Wyoming homeowner,” Kinskey said. “What’s more, the relief in this bill is measured. The reduction in public revenue can be absorbed by our state without compromising crucial services, and the bill provides ‘backfill’ to safeguard funding for local government services and programs.”
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