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State Briefs


January 10, 2019

Bill would set out-of-state tuition minimums

LARAMIE (WNE) — For the second consecutive year, Rep. Bill Henderson, R-Cheyenne, is bringing a bill to the legislative session that would statutorily prescribe a difference between the tuition rates paid by in-state and out-of-state students at the University of Wyoming.

Henderson brought a bill last year that would have required both UW and Wyoming’s community colleges to charge out-of-state students at least 10 percent more than they charge in-state students.

That bill failed its introductory vote, earning just 17 “aye” votes from the House’s 60 members.

This year, Henderson is trying again with House Bill 34, which would require out-of-state tuition to be at least 20 percent higher than in-state tuition.

Albany County’s own Rep. Bill Haley, R-Centennial, is one of three co-sponsors.

Meredith Asay, UW’s interim director of governmental relations, said the university isn’t currently taking a stance on the bill.

Henderson said the bill is intended to “underscore the principle that being from Wyoming should always count.”

If Henderson’s bill passed, it would have no near-term impact on the cost of higher education in the state.

The current out-of-state tuition rates for community colleges are already double their in-state counterparts.

UW charges in-state students $134 per credit hour. Out-of-state students are charged $537 per credit hour.

A 20 percent minimum difference written into statute, Henderson said, would be helpful in case a future Board of Trustees wanted to significantly limit the price differential of tuition rates.

Plague confirmed in Johnson County cat

WORLAND (WNE) — Laboratory testing at the University of Wyoming has recently confirmed a Johnson County cat was infected with plague, according to the Wyoming Department of Health.

No human cases have been identified.

The cat’s home is in Kaycee and the animal is known to wander outdoors.

The illness was confirmed by the Wyoming State Veterinary Laboratory in Laramie. This is the third plague-infected cat identified in Wyoming over the past six months; the others were in Sheridan and Campbell counties.

Only six human cases of plague have been exposed in Wyoming since 1978 with the last one investigated in 2008. There is an average of seven human plague cases each year in the United States.

“Plague is a serious bacterial infection that can be deadly for pets and people if not treated as soon as possible with antibiotics,” said Dr. Alexia Harrist, state health officer and state epidemiologist with WDH. “The disease can be passed to humans from ill animals and by fleas coming from infected animals. We are letting people know of the potential threat in the cat’s home area as well as across the state.”

“While the disease is rare in humans, plague occurs naturally in the western United States in areas where rodents and their fleas become infected,” Harrist added.

Balow to head national education group

SHERIDAN (WNE) — Education issues in Wyoming could have a more amplified voice on the national stage.

Jillian Balow, the state’s superintendent of public instruction, was recently voted president-elect for the Council of Chief State School Officers board of directors. The CCSSO is a national nonprofit organization composed of education officials from all 50 states, Washington, D.C. and several other U.S. territories. Balow is the first Wyoming official to serve as president-elect of the organization. She received the most votes in November 2018 from the CCSSO full membership, which is comprised of 59 people.

Balow said she was honored to be elected and is excited to serve in a more substantial role on the CCSSO.

“When I was elected (Wyoming superintendent in 2014), there were a lot of organizations that reached out to me and said, ‘We can help you with X or Y or Z,’” Balow said. “For about this first year, I really didn’t know how to discern which organizations would be be most helpful, but from the get-go it was really clear the Council of Chief State School Officers would be an excellent resource for me as the chief as well as our staff.”

Balow will spend one year as president-elect, one year as president and one year as past president.

Stephen Bowen, CCSSO deputy executive director, state leadership, said the three one-year terms allow for continuity among board leadership.

Riverton seeks funds to create ‘crime map’

RIVERTON (WNE) — The city of Riverton is seeking a federal grant to help identify the areas where crime takes places most often in the community.

City administrator Tony Tolstedt said the money - up to $1.2 million per applicant - would be used to develop a program that applies global information systems in order to map criminal activity in Riverton.

The Riverton Police Department would use the information to determine where additional law enforcement presence might be beneficial.

“It can actually be a significant increase in terms of how effective we can be,” Tolstedt said.

Councilman Tim Hancock said a crime mapping might allow the RPD to do more “community oriented policing” that would be “more proactive rather than reactive” in areas identified as high-crime.

“That is exactly the idea,” RPD chief Eric Murphy said.

He added that he would reach out to the Fremont County Sheriff’s Office and law enforcement on the Wind River Indian Reservation “so they can be involved as well.”

The grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, which does not require a local match, also would pay for two new RPD officers.


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