THE PERENNIAL PROBLEM ECONOMIC DIVERSIFICATION IN WYOMING DOMINATED A FORUM WITH THREE CANDIDATES FOR GOVERNOR DURING A FORUM SPONSORED BY THE CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ON WEDNESDAY.

REPUBLICAN MARK GORDON OF BUFFALO, DEMOCRAT MARY THRONE OF CHEYENNE, AND CONSTITUTION PARTY CANDIDATE REX RAMMELL OF ROCK SPRINGS SAID THE STATE NEEDS TO KEEP A GRIP ON ITS BUDGET, THAT ENTREPRENEURS AND LOCAL GOVERNMENTS HAVE FOSTERED SOUND BUSINESS CLIMATES, AND HEALTH INSURANCE AND HEALTH CARE AFFECT BUSINESS COSTS.

BUT THEY DIDN'T ALL AGREE ON HOW TO DO THAT.

THRONE, AN ENERGY ATTORNEY, ADVOCTAED A WHOLESALE REWORKING OF THE BUDGET PROCESS AND FINDING NEW SOURCES OF REVENUES.

GORDON, THE STATE TREASURER, WANTS TO SEE A CONTINUED EFFORT TO INVEST THE STATE FUNDS AND THE INTEREST INCOME FROM THEM IN THE PAST YEAR SAVED EACH WYOMING RESIDENT $1,500.

RAMMELL, ON THE OTHER HAND, OPPOSES THE STATE'S INVESTMENT POLICIES IN THE STOCK MARKETS AND WOULD LIKE TO SEE WYOMING SET UP A STATE BANK SIMILAR TO NORTH DAKOTA'S.
THE CANDIDATES' DIFFERED THE MOST ON DEALING WITH HEALTH INSURANCE AND HEALTH CARE.

THRONE SAID THE LEGISLATURE SHOULD EXPAND MEDICAID BECAUSE THE $577 MILLION IN FOREGONE FEDERAL MONEY OVER THE PAST SEVERAL SESSIONS COULD HAVE COVERED ABOUT 20,000 RESIDENTS WHO CANNOT OBTAIN HEALTH INSURANCE, AND THAT ALSO WOULD STABILIZED RURAL HOSPITALS.

RAMMELL SAID EXPANDING MEDICAID WILL MAKE THE PROBLEM WORSE, BECAUSE THE MORE THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIZES PROGRAMS FOR THE POOR, THE NUMBERS OF THE POOR WILL GROW.

GORDON, HOWEVER, SAID THE LEGISLATURE HAS REJECTED MEDICAID EXPANSION BECAUSE IT IS A SHORT-TERM SOLUTION, AND INSTEAD, HE URGES TAKING ADVANTAGE OF MORE OPTIONS FROM THE AMENDED AFFORDABLE CARE ACT.
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A MAN WHO ADMITTED IN JUNE THAT HE SEXUALLY ASSAULTED ANOTHER MAN AT KNIFEPOINT WAS SENTENCED TO PRISON WEDNESDAY MORNING IN NATRONA COUNTY DISTRICT COURT.

DISTRICT JUDGE DANIEL FORGEY SENTENCED 20-YEAR-OLD GARY DANIEL CLEMENT TO A PRISON TERM OF 12-15 YEARS. CLEMENT HAD PREVIOUSLY PLEADED GUILTY TO ONE COUNT OF SECOND-DEGREE SEXUAL ASSAULT AS PART OF A PLEA AGREEMENT.

ASSISTANT DISTRICT ATTORNEY DAN ITZEN CALLED CLEMENT'S CRIME "AN EXTREMELY VIOLENT ACT."

AFTER INVITING THE VICTIM BACK TO HIS HOUSE FOR SOME BEERS AND VIDEO GAMES, CLEMENT KNOCKED THE VICTIM UNCONSCIOUS, PULLED DOWN HIS PANTS AND RAPED HIM. THE VICTIM TOLD INVESTIGATORS THAT HE TRIED TO FIGHT OFF CLEMENT, BUT CLEMENT OVERPOWERED HIM AND WAS HOLDING A KNIFE.

CLEMENT'S ATTORNEY, CURTIS CHENEY, ASKED FORGEY TO INCLUDE A BOOT CAMP RECOMMENDATION IN CLEMENT'S SENTENCING ORDER. FORGEY DECLINED.

IN A BRIEF STATEMENT BEFORE BEING SENTENCED, CLEMENT APOLOGIZED FOR HIS ACTIONS AND SAID HE NEEDS HELP.
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COLORADO SEN. MICHAEL BENNET AND GOV. JOHN HICKENLOOPER SAY THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ISN'T GIVING THE PUBLIC ENOUGH TIME TO COMMENT ON PLANS TO DRILL FOR OIL AND GAS ON PUBLIC LAND.

IN LETTERS TO THE U.S. BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT TUESDAY, THE TWO DEMOCRATS ALSO ASKED THE GOVERNMENT NOT TO GO AHEAD WITH PLANS TO LET ENERGY COMPANIES DRILL ON HABITAT FOR THE GREATER SAGE GROUSE, A BIRD THAT WESTERN STATES AND FEDERAL AGENCIES ARE TRYING TO PROTECT.

AN AGENCY SPOKESMAN SAID THE BUREAU IS REVIEWING HICKENLOOPER'S LETTER. HE DECLINED TO COMMENT ON BENNET'S.

THE BUREAU OVERSEES THE SALE OF OIL AND GAS LEASES ON MOST FEDERAL LAND. HICKENLOOPER SAID NEW GOVERNMENT RULES SHUT OUT PUBLIC COMMENT IN SOME STAGES AND LIMIT IT TO 10 DAYS IN OTHERS.

HE SAID THAT'S INSUFFICIENT, ESPECIALLY IN THE CASE OF AN UPCOMING AUCTION OF 360 SQUARE MILES IN COLORADO.
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NO ONE WAS INJURED IN AN EARLY-MORNING HOUSE FIRE IN NORTH CASPER, BUT TWO PEOPLE WERE DISPLACED FROM THEIR HOME.

JASON SPEISER OF THE CASPER FIRE-EMS DEPARTMENT SAID THE FIRE WAS FIRST REPORTED AT ROUGHLY 2:45 A.M. WEDNESDAY AT A SINGLE-LEVEL, SINGLE-FAMILY HOME LOCATED AT 1042 ST. JOHN ST.

WHEN FIRE-EMS UNITS ARRIVED, THEY ENCOUNTERED HEAVY FLAMES ON THE FRONT PORCH AND IN THE LIVING AREA. FIREFIGHTERS HAD THE BLAZE UNDER CONTROL WITHIN FIVE TO 10 MINUTES OF THEIR ARRIVAL, SPEISER SAID.

TWO PEOPLE WERE TAKEN FROM THE SCENE BY EMS FOR EVALUATION, BUT THEY WERE NOT HURT. THE RED CROSS OF WYOMING ASSISTED TWO PEOPLE WITH LODGING AND OTHER IMMEDIATE NEEDS FOLLOWING THE FIRE.

FIRE-EMS RESPONDED WITH FOUR ENGINES AND A TRUCK COMPANY, AS WELL AS AN INCIDENT COMMANDER AND A FIRE INVESTIGATOR.

MOST OF THE HOME, WHICH SPEISER ESTIMATED AT 800-1,000 SQUARE FEET IN SIZE, SUSTAINED SMOKE AND FIRE DAMAGE.

THE CAUSE OF THE FIRE REMAINS UNDER INVESTIGATION. SPEISER SAID WEDNESDAY MORNING THAT THERE WAS NO OBVIOUS INDICATION AS TO WHAT MAY HAVE STARTED THE BLAZE.