From Wyoming News Exchange Newspapers 

State Briefs


January 24, 2019

Tribe sends letter asking delegation to end shutdown

RIVERTON (WNE) — The Eastern Shoshone Tribe has sent a letter to Wyoming’s congressional delegation outlining the ways the federal government shutdown has negatively impacted tribal members.

“Although the shutdown is partial, the federal departments and agencies that remain effectively closed are those that are inextricably linked to the health, welfare, safety and economic security of the tribe,” the letter states. “(We) implore you to stop the shutdown of the federal government on behalf of the Eastern Shoshone Tribe.”

In the letter, delivered Tuesday, tribal leaders call the shutdown “unnecessary and costly.”

“But more to the point, it is a breach of the federal trust responsibility the United States owes towards all tribal nations in the United States,” the letter states. “The Eastern Shoshone Tribe relies on the Bureau of Indian Affairs to administer distributions of the tribe’s own wealth to its members. The wealth derives from the natural resources that the tribe owns and receives royalties from. ... But, without BIA support, we cannot process distributions that belong to our tribal members (who) depend on these distributions in their day-to-day lives to support the financial needs of their families.”

Local tribal members may not receive their February per capita payments next month as a result of the ongoing federal government shutdown.

The tribe also will be limiting approval of requests for assistance submitted by tribal members, according to a public notice Monday.

Tribal members request assistance from the SBC directly for anything from medical bills to grocery payments and travel for medical care.

The Arapaho Business Council is suspending all types of assistance, including medical, funeral, senior assistance, utilities and financial assistance, “in large part due to the government shutdown,” according to a notice from the Northern Arapaho Tribe.

Tobacco tax proposed again

WORLAND (WNE) — A bill introduced in the Wyoming House of Representatives on Friday would try, yet again, to raise taxes on cigarettes and snuff in Wyoming, by proposing a 166 percent excise tax increase on tobacco products. 

House Bill 218 would increase the excise tax on cigarettes and snuff to $1.60 per pack or can (currently 60 cents per pack and can) and result in an estimated revenue increase to the state’s general fund of $22.7 million per year. 

Local governments would see an increase in revenue by an estimated $4 million per year. 

The state notes that the new rate of $1.60 per pack or can would be similar to South Dakota, which charges $1.53, and Montana, which charges $1.70. 

Idaho, Nebraska and Colorado currently tax less than a dollar. 

According to the Wyoming State Department of Health, 19 percent of Wyoming residents use tobacco products, slightly above the national average of 17 percent. 

Wyoming is currently ranked 44th in the United States for its current tax of only 60 cents per pack, with the national average being $1.73. 

Pound of meth retrieved from dishwasher

GILLETTE (WNE) — The Campbell County Sheriff’s Office found 1.05 pounds of meth in a dishwasher while searching a Gold Road home early Wednesday morning, according to court documents.

Jeffrey Powell, 56, has been charged with possession with intent to deliver methamphetamine, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.

Officers began investigating the Gold Road home about a week ago after seeing several vehicles coming and going from the area.

On Monday, they arrested a 28-year-old man for possession of marijuana, a misdemeanor, as he was leaving, according to court documents. The next day, they stopped a red Pontiac for having expired plates and, in a subsequent search, found suspected meth in a 28-year-old woman’s purse, Undersheriff Quentin Reynolds said. She was arrested on suspicion of possession of meth.

Based on the previous arrests near the home, deputies obtained a search warrant, which they served at about 5:45 a.m. Wednesday. They found a blue measuring cup containing meth and a bag with 29 grams of meth on the top shelf of Powell’s closet. In the kitchen, they found another blue measuring cup containing meth, two digital scales, three fake $100 bills, a vacuum sealer and the 1.05 pounds of meth in a vacuum-sealed bag.

The deputies also retrieved a “copious” number of syringes and unused glass pipes from the home, according to court documents.

In the garage, they found Powell’s backpack, which contained syringes and 200 small clear plastic bags.

The Sheriff’s Office is collaborating with the state Division of Criminal Investigation to conduct follow-up on Powell’s case, Reynolds said.


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