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Legislative Report: Education, Health, Food [AUDIO]

Wyoming capitol, Karen Snyder, K2 Radio
Wyoming capitol, Karen Snyder, K2 Radio

Education, health care and food were some of the issues on the mind’s of lawmakers today. Amy Richards has more in Tuesday’s Legislative Report:

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This Legislative Report is brought to you by Hilltop National Bank.

The Senate passed the school recalibration bill on second reading today. House Bill 127 would set the school funding model for the next five years. The bill must pass one more reading in the Senate.

The House wants to give Wyoming school districts more time to decide whether to bestow employment protections on new teachers. Under current law, districts can automatically renew teacher’s employment contracts after they pass an initial three-year probationary period. The house amended a bill that would establish annual teacher evaluations so that the tenure isn’t granted until after five years. Senate File 146 will face another vote in the House on Wednesday.

The house also approved several changes dealing with firing teachers but rejected a proposal to create a citizen panel to review cases of teachers recommended for firing.

The overall bill would require creation of standards for school districts and administrators to measure teacher performance annually and how to handle teachers who don’t meet the standards.

The Senate has voted down a bill to create a fund to pay for litigation over the federal health care reform law. The vote was 10 ayes and 19 nos against House Bill 39, which would have put up $500,000 to fight the federal health care reform law Congress enacted last year. Gov. Matt Mead last month brought Wyoming into a federal lawsuit with many other states challenging the federal law. Sen. Charlie Scott says he’s surprised the bill failed.

Sen. Charlie Scott, fuss but don’t do:

“I was surprised at that. People want to fuss and fume about the national reform but when it comes to doing something practical about it like taking them to court to stop some of the bad things; no, we don’t want to pay for that.”

During floor debate Sen. John Schiffer (R-Kaycee) said the Legislature didn’t need to put up additional money for legal services when Mead’s office hadn’t requested it.

Sen. John Schiffer, governor’s contingency:

“The governor does have in his budget a contingency account, and he can shift money if he wishes to focus on the health area. And governors have done that and this governor may or may not choose to do it. Let him go do it. In a year from now, less than a year from now, we’ll start talking about the budget for the next biennium. These lawsuits go on forever.”

The Senate voted gave final approval to the “Wyoming traditional food act.” Sen. Chris Rothfuss says he couldn’t support House Bill 8.

Sen. Chris Rothfuss, foodborne illness:

“And realistically, I am worried about the fact that this is going to lead to addition foodborne illness and that’s a reality. And I never heard anything satisfactory that really eased my concerns on that, so, in the end, I ended up having to vote against it.”

Rep. Sue Wallis, a strong supporter of the bill, says it’s good news for the residents of the state.

Rep. Sue Wallis, regain food freedom:

“Every year we come back and take a few more baby steps, we push the envelope a little bit and we are able to regain some of our freedom around food.”

Friday is the deadline for bills to be heard on general file in the second house, otherwise they are dead for the session. With the Legislative Report, I’m Amy Richards for K2 Radio News.

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