Articles written by Tom Coulter


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  • Lawmakers discuss funding fix for emergency communications system

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|May 20, 2021

    CHEYENNE — With money expected to run out by next summer for the state’s emergency communications system, known as WyoLink, lawmakers discussed potential ways to fund the radio system during a committee meeting Tuesday. First established in 2005, WyoLink connects more than 500 local agencies via communications towers, allowing public safety officials to coordinate rescue missions and other emergency responses across the rural landscape of Wyoming. However, with its funding largely coming from local governments’ share of mineral royalties, its c...

  • Barrasso encouraged after infrastructure bill meeting

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|May 20, 2021

    CHEYENNE — U.S. Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., was among a handful of GOP senators who met at the White House on Thursday to discuss President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure proposal, and he was encouraged that the president could be willing to scale down his spending package. “Today’s meeting was a positive step forward,” Barrasso said in a statement to the Wyoming Tribune Eagle late Thursday. “The president understands Senate Republicans will not support tax increases or hundreds of billions of dollars for the Green New Deal, envir...

  • Lawmakers review tax structure again

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|May 13, 2021

    CHEYENNE — With Wyoming facing an annual funding shortfall worth roughly $300 million for its K-12 education system, lawmakers on the Joint Revenue Committee spent much of their meeting Monday reviewing how the state pays for its services, as well as how its economic lynchpins have changed over the past decade. Wyoming, which has long relied on coal, oil and natural gas industries to pay the lion’s share of taxes in the state, has seen a substantial decline in revenues over the last decade. From the 2013-14 biennium to the 2017-18 bie...

  • I-80 toll proposal tabled

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|Apr 1, 2021

    CHEYENNE - A bill that would have authorized a long-term plan to set up an Interstate 80 tolling program was tabled by a legislative committee Tuesday, meaning the proposal will not be considered on the House floor during the remainder of the Legislature's general session. Senate File 73, which won narrow final approval from the Senate last week, would have set in motion the development of a master I-80 tolling plan from the Wyoming Department of Transportation, which faces annually unmet needs...

  • Marijuana, fuel tax bills died Monday

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|Mar 25, 2021

    CHEYENNE — With about a week and a half left in the Wyoming Legislature’s general session, a slew of bills addressing everything from marijuana to seat belt use failed due to them not being considered by Monday night, their swift deaths brought about by a procedural deadline. Monday was the final day for bills to gain initial approval in their chamber of origin, and more than two dozen pieces of legislation that had gained committee approval were not heard by that deadline. The list of bills brought before the bodies is typically det...

  • Budget proposals finalized

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|Mar 18, 2021

    CHEYENNE — After two days without meeting due to the historic winter storm that hit southeast Wyoming last weekend, state lawmakers will return to the Capitol Wednesday with a divide between the House and Senate budget proposals that the bodies will attempt to resolve in the coming weeks. Last Friday, lawmakers in their respective chambers finalized their versions of the state’s supplemental budget, which would cut between $400 million and $450 million in general funds from the state’s two-year budget approved last year, after consi...

  • Marijuana bill gains committee approval

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|Mar 18, 2021

    CHEYENNE — Wyoming is one of six states where marijuana remains fully illegal without any sort of decriminalization. But that could change in the near future, as state lawmakers advanced a bill Friday that would open the door for wide-ranging forms of cannabis to be grown and sold in Wyoming. Members of the Legislature’s House Judiciary Committee considered two marijuana-focused bills during their meeting Friday, one of which would require the state health officer to establish a report on the implementation of medical marijuana in Wyoming. Whi...

  • Restaurant, gym health orders relaxed

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|Feb 17, 2021

    CHEYENNE — Citing a substantial decline in the number of active COVID-19 cases and virus-related hospitalizations in Wyoming, Gov. Mark Gordon announced further easing on the state’s public health orders Thursday, along with an extension of the statewide mask mandate. Some of the main changes to the orders, which take effect Monday, will allow for more people at indoor and outdoor gatherings that incorporate social distancing and face mask usage. For indoor gatherings that follow those health protocols, up to 25% of a venue’s capacity, or a...

  • Poll shows residents concerned about school funding, taxes

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|Feb 10, 2021

    CHEYENNE – With lawmakers expected to weigh state budget cuts totaling tens of millions of dollars when they meet in Cheyenne next month, a poll of residents found that Wyomingites were most concerned over the possibility of cuts to the state’s K-12 education system, as well as potential tax increases. The poll, which was spearheaded by Power Wyoming, an interdisciplinary group tasked with analyzing the state’s economic future, was presented to the Legislature’s House Education Committee during a meeting Friday. The poll focused on five no...

  • Wyoming GOP condemns Cheney

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|Jan 20, 2021

    CHEYENNE – The Wyoming Republican Party issued a statement highlighting an outpouring of opposition from its members in response to U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., voting to impeach President Donald Trump on Wednesday for his role in the U.S. Capitol riot that occurred a week earlier. The party issued the statement late Wednesday night, a few hours after Cheney joined nine other Republican representatives in voting to impeach Trump for his role in inciting the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, making him the first president to be impeached t...

  • Cheyenne area Health Department vandalized

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|Jan 13, 2021

    CHEYENNE — The exterior doors of the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department were vandalized with fake blood early Thursday morning, a few days after a protest was held at the Wyoming State Capitol against public health orders issued in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Kathy Emmons, executive director of the Cheyenne-Laramie County Health Department, said the vandalism occurred early Thursday morning, likely around 5:30 a.m. The timeframe was determined because a copy of the Wyoming Tribune Eagle had already been delivered when the fake b...

  • Committee supports tobacco tax hike

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|Dec 23, 2020

    CHEYENNE – State lawmakers, during a meeting Friday, narrowly advanced a measure to increase excise taxes on cigarettes and moist tobacco snuff, marking one of the only revenue-raising measures to be advanced by a legislative committee during interim meetings this year. The bill, if approved by the Legislature during its regular session next year, would raise the tax on cigarette packs from 60 cents to 84 cents, keeping with inflation since the last time a cigarette tax increase was passed in the state in 2003. It would also increase the tax o...

  • Mill levy increase plan for schools rejected

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|Dec 23, 2020

    CHEYENNE — With Wyoming facing a structural revenue deficit worth hundreds of millions of dollars in its K-12 education fund, state lawmakers narrowly rejected a proposal to raise mill levies on properties to supplement education funding during a committee meeting last week. The proposal, which the Joint Revenue Committee turned down by a tied 7-7 vote Thursday, would have gradually added nine mill levies, meaning the amount that can be taxed based on a property’s assessed value, for real, personal and industrial properties. During the com...

  • Bill would repeal tax break for wind energy

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|Nov 18, 2020

    CHEYENNE - Despite opposition from some officials in Laramie County and elsewhere in the state, Wyoming lawmakers narrowly advanced a bill Wednesday that would make wind energy producers pay more in taxes in the first three years of new projects. The legislation, which won approval on a 7-6 vote from the Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Interim Committee, would remove a tax exemption on electricity generation that applies to new wind energy projects in their first three...

  • Buildings decontaminated after state employees test for COVID

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|Nov 11, 2020

    CHEYENNE – At least 40 state employees have tested positive for COVID-19 during the past week, as the number of active virus cases in Wyoming continued its steady rise to new record highs. The positive tests resulted in portions of seven state-run buildings in Laramie County being decontaminated, two of them for a second time, Gov. Mark Gordon said in a letter sent to all state employees Friday morning. “The rising number of positive cases and quarantines among state employees is impacting our operations, our ability to deliver products and...

  • Forests, indigenous issues debated

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|Oct 14, 2020

    CHEYENNE – With only a few weeks remaining until Election Day, the candidates vying to be Wyoming’s sole delegate in the U.S. House of Representatives discussed their visions for a country hampered by the COVID-19 pandemic during a debate Thursday night in Torrington. The debate, which was hosted by WyomingPBS and Wyoming Public Radio at Eastern Wyoming College, featured incumbent Republican Liz Cheney, Democratic challenger Lynnette Grey Bull and Constitution Party candidate Jeff Haggit. The discussion offered the first opportunity for the...

  • Masks protested at Capitol

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|Sep 23, 2020

    CHEYENNE – Roughly 30 Wyomingites gathered on the grounds of the state Capitol at noon Thursday to protest against the requirements for children to wear masks in school. The protestors came from across the state to demonstrate against school districts’ reopening plans, all of which require masks be worn when social distancing cannot be enforced. Laura Jorgensen, a main organizer of the protest, drove several hours from Fort Bridger to demonstrate. “We just would like the freedom of choice for our own kids back, and we want our local contr...

  • Mayors push lawmakers to consider tax options amid budget crisis

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|Aug 26, 2020

    CHEYENNE – With Wyoming facing a projected $1.5 billion revenue shortfall over the next two years, a few mayors from across the state asked lawmakers Monday to start seriously considering new taxation options. In response to the budget crisis – which emerged from long-term declines in Wyoming’s energy industries and was accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic – the state has already cut about 10% of its state agency budgets, totaling about $250 million. But for mayors who testified to the state Legislature’s Joint Revenue Committee on Monday, c...

  • HollyFrontier announces plan to lay off employees

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|Jun 3, 2020

    CHEYENNE— HollyFrontier Corporation announced Monday that it will be laying off about 200 employees at its Cheyenne refinery over the next 18 months. The layoffs will come as part of the company’s plan to convert its Cheyenne oil refinery into one that processes diesel fuel from renewable materials. HollyFrontier CEO Mike Jennings said in a statement Monday that the challenges of high operating and capital costs, compounded by the effects of COVID-19, forced the shift in operations at the refinery. “We realize that this decision affects many...

  • 2nd special session discussed

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|May 27, 2020

    CHEYENNE – After holding its first special session since 2004 last week, the Wyoming Legislature likely won’t have to wait another 16 years for its next one. State lawmakers are expected to reconvene sometime in late June for a second, longer special session to continue addressing the whirlwind of issues brought by the COVID-19 pandemic, along with long-term budget issues that have been compounded by the virus. A date has not been finalized for the second special session, but House Speaker Steve Harshman, R-Casper, said in a news con...

  • State land deal still alive

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|Apr 8, 2020

    CHEYENNE – A lot has changed since Gov. Mark Gordon announced earlier this year that the state was exploring a deal to buy roughly a million acres of land in southern Wyoming from Occidental Petroleum Corporation. Yet while the coronavirus has brought rapid changes to daily life in Wyoming – and put its main revenue streams in jeopardy – state leaders are still seriously considering the potential land purchase, which would also include about four million acres of mineral rights. Discussions of the deal were forced “to take a back seat for a w...

  • Land deal bill wins legislative approval

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|Mar 18, 2020

    CHEYENNE - It remains to be seen whether the state will decide to buy roughly 1 million surface acres and 4 million mineral acres in southern Wyoming, but the process is now in place for the state to begin exploring such a purchase. On the final day of this year’s budget session Thursday, lawmakers gave approval to a bill authorizing the state to explore purchasing the land from Occidental Petroleum Corporation. Gov. Mark Gordon announced the state’s interest in the land in a news conference with legislative leadership Feb. 17. Since then, the...

  • Oil plunge raises economic questions

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|Mar 11, 2020

    CHEYENNE — Oil prices worldwide suffered a major hit over the weekend, reaching a four-year low in the United States, and the rapid changes in the global economy could have major implications for Wyoming. U.S. oil prices were down by as much as 34% on Monday, largely due to two factors: a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia, and dropping demand as the coronavirus continues to spread globally. The effects of the rising supply and dropping demand of oil could be felt in Wyoming, where oil extraction is a linchpin of the state’s eco...

  • Lodging tax bill sent to governor's desk

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange|Mar 4, 2020

    CHEYENNE - A 5% lodging sales tax proposal won final approval from the Senate on Friday afternoon, marking passage of the only tax measure aimed at putting a small dent in the roughly $200 million revenue deficit facing the state in the next few years. If signed into law by Gov. Mark Gordon, who has stated his support for such a proposal, House Bill 134 would implement an additional 5% sales tax on in-state lodging services. Three-fifths of that tax revenue would go to an account to promote tourism in the state, while the remaining two-fifths...

  • State eyes land purchase

    Tom Coulter, Wyoming Tribune Eagle via the Wyoming News Exchange|Feb 19, 2020

    CHEYENNE — In what could be a historic step for Wyoming, Gov. Mark Gordon and several top lawmakers announced Monday the state will explore the possibility of buying a million acres of land owned by Occidental Petroleum Corporation in southern Wyoming. Occidental acquired the parcels after merging with the original owner of the land, Anadarko Petroleum Corporation, last August. Much of the land lies along the Union Pacific Railroad, which runs across all of southern Wyoming. The governor discussed the possible purchase in a news conference M...

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