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Gordon Vetoes Bill To Deregulate Mining Over Casper Gravel Pit Amendments

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Gordon Vetoes Bill To Deregulate Mining Over Casper Gravel Pit Amendments


Calling it a threat to Wyoming’s ability to generate mining revenue on state lands, Gov. Mark Gordon vetoed a bill Monday that would have allowed certain mining operations to have less state regulation.

Gordon said he supported Senate Enrolled Act 62 as originally written, but that amendments added to the bill would have given local counties authority over state lands.

“Ultimately, the flaws of Enrolled Act No. 62 as it has arrived on my desk outweigh its benefits,” Gordon writes in his veto letter.

Senate File 44 was designed to reduce regulation on non-coal mining operations in Wyoming. The bill also intended to address existing bonding deficiencies for issuing permits for limited mining operations (LMOs) by updating bonding requirements to take into account inflation and other withdrawals from reclamation funds.

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LMOs in Wyoming are now limited to various kinds of sand, gravel and rock quarries operating on 15 acres of land or less. SF 44 would have expanded that to all non-coal minerals including rare earths, essentially making it easier for small-scale energy operations to meet the lower regulation criteria offered for LMOs, and easier to make a transition to full permitting if they chose to expand in the future.

State Rep. Donald Burkhart, R-Rawlins, chairman of the House Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee, said he was disappointed by the governor’s veto of his committee’s bill, but also saw some legitimacy to it. He said the amendments added to the bill took away from its original purpose.

“I’m disappointed, but there were some legitimate legal issues that he raised,” Burkhart said.

If the bill had passed, the only requirements needed to begin mining from the state would be that the operator receive permission to mine from the landowner and notify the Department of Environmental Quality and the inspector of mines within the Department of Workforce Services where they would be mining.

But Burkhart said an amendment added to the bill by Rep. Steve Harshman, R-Casper, on its third reading in the House altered the bill so that it gave counties some control over state mining and thus primacy over state lands.

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“Which you can’t have,” Burkhart said.

Casper Gravel Pit

There were a number of late amendments made to the bill specifically targeting development of an exploratory license that had been previously granted for a contentious gravel pit located on state lands southwest of Casper.

These amendments were added for the purpose of stopping further development of an exploratory license for the gravel pit.

Gordon said these amendments would have done nothing to resolve the gravel pit situation.

“Statutory changes are not the proper place to address specific concerns for individual operations,” Gordon wrote in his veto letter. “While Wyoming seeks to manage her state lands cooperatively with counties and their land use plans, the state is not constrained by them. State lands and minerals are important to our state’s economic well-being and need to be treated the same as other lands in the state.”

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Other Consequences

Gordon said the bill also would have had constitutional consequences as to how state lands are managed, and limited Wyoming’s ability to generate revenue from state lands and take management and decision-making authority away from the state.

The bill would have implemented an increased setback requirement of 500 feet on state lands and a new requirement for counties to review and issue conditional use permits. LMOs on private or federal lands only have to adhere to a 300-foot requirement, so Gordon said requiring the additional 200-foot setback for state land mining would make it uncompetitive.

“State lands and minerals are important to our state’s economic well-being and need to be treated the same as other lands in the state,” Gordon writes.

Burkhart said the Minerals Committee will take the bill back up during the upcoming interim session.

Five Bills Signed Into Law

Gordon also signed five bills into law Monday.

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  • Senate Enrolled Act 36 will help Wyoming judges freeze passports and issue other orders to block child abductions by parents or guardians.

  • Senate Enrolled Act 36 will authorize natural or adoptive parents or legal guardians to change a minor child’s name without giving public notice of the name change.

  • Senate Enrolled Act 44 will amend the Wyoming Stable Token Act to allow for investments in cash and government securities, and authorize the Wyoming Stable Token Commission to issue different types and amounts of stable tokens and to contract with financial service providers.

  • Senate Enrolled Act 45 will provide an exception to special district bond elections for improvement and service districts and water and sewer districts.

  • Senate Enrolled Act 31 provides a process by which special districts that have been required to dissolve for audit report noncompliance may reinstate the special district or stop the dissolution.

Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.



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Wyoming

Hageman Votes Against Bill To Allow Warrantless Spying On Americans

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Hageman Votes Against Bill To Allow Warrantless Spying On Americans


Wyoming U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman voted Friday against continuing to allow the U.S. Department of Justice to conduct searches of Americans’ information without a warrant.

Hageman voted against a bill reauthorizing a part of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) known as Section 702, which national security officials say is critical to fighting terrorism.

Despite her vote, the Reforming Intelligence and Securing America Act still passed 273-147.

When an amendment failed that would have required the FBI to get warrants before surveilling American citizens, Hageman said House Resolution 7888 lost all ability to prevent the federal government from spying on Americans. The amendment died on a 212-212 tie.

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“I refuse to support legislation that violates our Constitutional rights,” Hageman said in a Friday press release after the vote.

In a C-SPAN interview Thursday, Hageman said it’s important that Section 702 be reauthorized, as she believes it’s an important tool for American security. But she only wants this done if it comes with necessary reforms to protect American citizens from undue intrusions.

Section 702 allows the government to collect from U.S. companies like AT&T and Google the messages of foreigners who have been targeted for foreign intelligence or counterterrorism without a warrant, even when they are communicating with Americans, which is the source of most of its controversy.

Hageman has constantly criticized some of America’s intelligence agencies for what she sees as an abuse and overreach of their powers to target people these organizations see as political adversaries.

“The reality is that the FBI and other agencies have been abusing Section 702,” she said.

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Weaponization

Some of the issues Hageman has publicly addressed include the FBI and DOJ’s pressure campaign on Twitter during the COVID-19 pandemic, the targeting of certain Catholics, people attending school board meetings, and the charges brought against former President Donald Trump.

This week, Trump implored lawmakers to “kill” FISA, complaining that government officials had used it to spy on him.

The office of the Director for National Intelligence found that in 2021, the FBI conducted 3.3 million queries into U.S. citizens without warrants. By 2022, the FBI was still conducting hundreds of warrantless queries per day. Last May, the Washington Post reported that in 2020 and early 2021, the FBI conducted more than 278,000 searches of the 702 database, which violated DOJ rules and often lacked national security connections.

Some of the searches on Americans have included queries on Black Lives Matter protestors and people suspected of participating in the U.S. Capitol riot in January 2021.

According to The New York Times, national security officials argue removing the ability to surveil Americans without warrants could hinder their program as they typically spy on Americans early on in investigations to learn more about their phone numbers or email accounts in connection with a suspected foreign spy or terrorist before there is enough evidence collected to issue a warrant.

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The Times also reports that the FBI has since tightened its system to reduce the risk of queries that violate its own standards, changes the bill will codify into law, as well as adding reporting requirements and limiting the number of officials with access to raw information.

“Hopefully, we can get to the place where we have the necessary reforms to make sure that the FBI and Department of Justice cannot do what it’s been doing over the last several years,” Hageman said.

Specifically, Hageman said she wants a warrant requirement for all surveillance of Americans, an effort also supported by some Democrats like Zoe Lofgren of California.

As a member of the Judiciary Committee, Hageman has already helped bring reforms on this issue such as legislation addressing what she sees as abuses of FISA, while still allowing it to be used to detect international threats.

She said the real hurdle has been finding agreement between this committee, the House Permanent Select Committee On Intelligence, and the overall intelligence community.

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Bigger Picture

But Hageman also stressed on C-SPAN that she finds the overall debate about surveillance rights extremely worthy and a valuable piece of a larger conversation about how far the power of intelligence communities can extend in relation to American civil liberties and the U.S. Constitution.

“I land on the side of civil liberties,” she said. “I want to make sure we’re protecting the constitutional rights of American citizens.”

Hageman said Thursday she is confident the issue will be resolved before Section 702 expires.

But even if Section 702 is allowed to expire April 19, Hageman said she’s not concerned, and believes America’s intelligence agencies will still be able to do their jobs despite lacking the guarantee of a future database to conduct warrantless surveillance searches. Last week, the FISA court granted a government request authorizing it for another year through April 2025.

Under the law, surveillance activity can continue as long as there are active court orders allowing it, even if it expires itself.

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Some far-right members of Congress like Rep. Marjorie Taylor-Greene, R-Georgia, have called for the removal of House Speaker Mike Johnson over his push to resolve the issue.

In an effort to salvage a compromise, Johnson on Friday put forward a shorter extension proposal for Section 702, from five to two years, a move that appeared to win over many Republicans with the possibility that Trump may be president again at that time.

Hageman said on C-SPAN she still fully supports the speaker and doesn’t find this division significant.

“The fact is Republicans don’t ever walk in lockstep, that’s one of the reasons we’re Republicans,” she said. “We’re very independent-minded and independent thinkers. I think that’s in contrast to a lot of Democrats.”

The bill will next move on to the Senate for consideration.

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Leo Wolfson can be reached at Leo@CowboyStateDaily.com.



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You Need To Sign Up Now To Help Wyoming Veterans

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You Need To Sign Up Now To Help Wyoming Veterans


We are the land of the free because of the brave. We owe everything to the men and women who have served this country, and here’s your opportunity to give back.

H.D. Outdoors is a nonprofit organization in Casper dedicated to ‘Honoring’ our disabled veterans for their ‘Duty’ of serving the country. The group has been in operation for the last three years, giving veterans in Wyoming the resources to enjoy a big game/ bird hunt or fishing trip and receive support and camaraderie from other veterans.

I’ve seen firsthand how groups like H.D. Outdoors benefit and enhance the lives of everyone in the organization, not just the veterans but also those who volunteer or come into contact with them on any level.

When a veteran receives an experience, H.D. Outdoors takes full financial responsibility, meaning the vet doesn’t pay for anything, including travel, lodging, food, licenses, taxidermy, shipping, processing, and other costs that occur during the trip. To ensure this continues, there are multiple events to raise money throughout the year.

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One of those significant fundraising events is coming up in just a few weeks, and you still have time to get a team of four together and register to participate.

Clays for the Brave is a sporting clay shooting competition that benefits H.D. Outdoors, and the two-day event is rapidly approaching. On May 3 and 4, you can participate in the third annual event, which begins Friday the 3rd with a Calcutta and Dinner at the Hangar in Bar Nunn. On the morning of Saturday the 4th, you can show off your shooting skills at the clay shooting event. Then, wrap the weekend up Saturday afternoon at Gruner Brothers for food, a couple of beers, and the awards ceremony.

For the first time, the shoot will be held at 9 a.m. at the Casper Skeet Club near the Ford Wyoming Center in Casper. The course is large, and it’s advised that you bring a side-by-side or ATV to help carry your ammo, guns, teammates, and other supplies from station to station.

You Need To Sign Up Now To Help Wyoming Veterans
H.D. Outdoors

The cost is $600 per team (4 shooters). That includes entry to the Calcutta and dinner at the Hangar on Friday. Breakfast, entry to the shoot, snacks & drinks during the event, and food during the awards ceremony at Gruner Brothers on Saturday.

 Ammo for the shoot is NOT provided, so bring enough to cover your whole team.

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If you cannot attend the shoot, you can still go to the Calcutta on Friday evening. During the event, there will be a dinner, a live auction, multiple raffles, and the chance to bet on the team you think will shoot the best during the event with the Calcutta. The best part is that all of the proceeds go to H.D. Outdoors.

Stay tuned to find out what some of the items that will be available on the auction block will be.

“Old Glory” Flying Around Casper

There’s no doubt that Casper is a patriotic town and you can certainly tell that by the number of American Flags flying proudly.

Casper Artist Travis Glasgow’s New Art





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Don Day Wyoming Weather Forecast: Friday, April 12, 2024

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Don Day Wyoming Weather Forecast: Friday, April 12, 2024


Sunny and warmer in Wyoming on Friday. Breezy in some areas. Highs in the 60s and 70s and lows in the 30s and 40s.

Central:  

Casper:  Expect it to be sunny and breezy today with a high near 72 and wind gusts of up to 26 mph. It should be partly cloudy and breezy overnight with a low near 45 and wind gusts as high as 21 mph.  

Lander:  It should be mostly sunny and breezy today with a high near 72 and wind gusts as high as 28 mph. Overnight it should be mostly cloudy and breezy with a low near 43 and wind gusts of up to 26 mph. 

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Glenrock Look for it to be sunny and breezy today with a high near 73 and wind from 15-20 mph in the afternoon. It should be partly cloudy overnight with a low near 42.

Southwest:  

Evanston Look for it to be sunny today with a high near 63 and wind from 6-16 mph. It should be partly cloudy overnight with a low near 35.

Green River:  Expect it to be sunny and breezy today with a high near 72 and wind gusts of up to 24 mph. Overnight it should be partly cloudy and breezy with a low near 39 and wind gusts as high as 22 mph.

Cokeville It should be mostly sunny and breezy today with a high near 67 and wind gusts as high as 24 mph. Overnight it should be partly cloudy and breezy with a low near 31 and wind gusts of up to 23 mph.

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Western Wyoming:  

Pinedale:  Expect it to be mostly sunny and breezy today with a high near 62 and wind gusts of up to 23 mph. Overnight it should be partly cloudy and breezy with a low near 32 and wind gusts as high as 23 mph.

Afton:  Scattered showers are possible today mainly after 11 a.m. and there’s a slight chance of rain before 7 p.m. tonight. Otherwise, look for it to be mostly sunny and breezy today with a high near 61 and wind gusts as high as 22 mph. It should be partly cloudy overnight with a low near 35.

La Barge:  It should be sunny and breezy today with a high near 69 and wind gusts as high as 25 mph. Overnight it should be partly cloudy and breezy with a low near 30 and wind from 15-20 mph. 

Northwest:  

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Dubois:  There’s a slight chance of showers after 1 p.m., otherwise expect it to be sunny and breezy today with a high near 60 and wind gusts as high as 23 mph. Overnight it should be mostly clear and breezy with a low near 34 and wind gusts as high as 22 mph.

Jackson:  There’s a slight chance of rain today, otherwise it should be mostly sunny with a high near 60 and partly cloudy overnight with a low near 33.  

Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park:  There’s a chance of rain after 3 p.m. and snow in higher elevations, otherwise look for it to be mostly sunny and breezy today with a high near 60 and wind gusts of up to 21 mph. It should be partly cloudy overnight with a low near 31.

Bighorn Basin:

Thermopolis It should be mostly sunny and breezy today with a high near 74 and wind gusts of up to 23 mph. Overnight it should be partly cloudy with a low near 43.

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Cody:  Look for it to be mostly sunny and breezy today with a high near 72 and wind gusts as high as 23 mph. It should be mostly cloudy overnight with a low near 45 and wind gusts as high as 21 mph.

Ten Sleep:  Expect it to be sunny today with a high near 71 and wind gusts of up to 20 mph. It should be partly cloudy overnight with a low near 44 and wind gusts as high as 22 mph.

North Central:  

Buffalo:  Expect it to be sunny and breezy today with a high near 71 and wind gusts of up to 23 mph. It should be mostly cloudy overnight with a low near 48.

Sheridan:  Look for it to be sunny today with a high near 75 and mostly cloudy overnight with a low near 42.

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Dayton:  It should be sunny today with a high near 72 and mostly cloudy overnight with a low near 44.

Northeast:  

Gillette:  It should be sunny today with a high near 73 and wind gusts of up to 21 mph. Overnight it should be mostly clear with a low near 44 and wind gusts of up to 20 mph.

Newcastle:  Look for it to be sunny today with a high near 70 and wind gusts as high as 17 mph. It should be mostly clear overnight with a low near 43 and wind gusts as high as 17 mph.

Upton:  Expect it to be sunny today with a high near 72 and wind gusts of up to 18 mph. It should be mostly clear overnight with a low near 40 and wind gusts as high as 16 mph.

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Eastern Plains:  

Torrington:  It should be sunny today with a high near 77 and partly cloudy overnight with a low near 39. 

Douglas:  Expect it to be sunny today with a high near 74 and partly cloudy overnight with a low near 41.

Wright:  Look for it to be sunny today with a high near 69 and wind gusts as high as 24 mph. It should be partly cloudy overnight with a low near 41 and wind gusts of up to 21 mph.

Southeast:  

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Cheyenne:  Look for it to be sunny today with a high near 72 and mostly cloudy overnight with a low near 43.

Laramie:  Expect it to be sunny and breezy today with a high near 68 and wind from 10-20 mph. It should be mostly cloudy overnight with a low near 37.

Medicine Bow:  It should be sunny and breezy today with a high near 68 and wind gusts as high as 30 mph. Overnight it should be partly cloudy with a low near 35.

South Central:  

Rawlins:  Look for it to be sunny and breezy today with a high near 69 and wind gusts as high as 35 mph. Overnight it should be partly cloudy and breezy with a low near 40 and wind gusts as high as 30 mph.

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Saratoga:  It should be sunny and breezy today with a high near 68 and wind gusts as high as 30 mph. Overnight it should be mostly cloudy with a low near 37.

Baggs:  Expect it to be sunny and breezy today with a high near 73 and wind gusts as high as 30 mph. Overnight it should be mostly cloudy with a low near 38.



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