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2018 News Releases

President George H.W. Bush “Day of Mourning”

posted Dec 4, 2018, 8:33 AM by Chris Mickey


CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Governor Matt Mead is encouraging Wyoming citizens to join with the rest of the nation in honoring former President George H.W. Bush with a “Day of Mourning” on Wednesday, December 5.

The President has issued a proclamation designating December 5 as a National Day of Mourning.  The proclamation calls “on the American people to assemble on that day in their respective places of worship, there to pay homage to the memory of President George H.W. Bush.”

Federal offices across the country, including Wyoming will be closed on Wednesday. State offices remain open.

In a statement issued Saturday, Governor Mead noted, “President George H.W. Bush was an extraordinary patriot and public servant. His dedication to family and his absolute courtesy to all serve as a model for all Americans. Carol and I send our condolences to his family.”

Mead said the former President should be honored on December 5 – a day in which his memorial services will be held in the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

“I ask Wyoming citizens to take time during this day to honor a man who devoted himself to our country,” Governor Mead said.    

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Governor Mead Announces Supplemental Budget Recommendations

posted Dec 4, 2018, 8:20 AM by Chris Mickey   [ updated Dec 4, 2018, 8:21 AM ]


CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Governor Matt Mead’s final budget recommendations place an emphasis on higher education, local governments, state employees and public infrastructure. The supplemental budget recommends expenditure of approximately 1.5% of the increased revenue identified by the CREG in October – totaling $148 million in general fund. Most of the recommendations are for one-time expenditures.

If adopted, Mead’s recommendations will allow the state’s rainy day fund (Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account, LSRA) to post an all-time high balance of $1.879 billion.The 2019-2020 biennial budget would still remain lower than the 2011-2012 budget during the first years of his administration.

“The supplemental budget honors the intent of the biennial budget process – to provide stable and sustainable funding for state government,” Mead said. “Where circumstances compel action, I have recommended additional funds. Given continuing resource constraints, the use of one-time funds seems the prudent course and 82% of the recommendations are for one-time needs.”

Mead has recommended additional funds for local governments, continuing his emphasis on the need to invest in the infrastructure and capacity of Wyoming’s cities, towns and counties. He has made a recommendation for local government assistance in each of the budgets he has presented to the Legislature. Mead recommends $20 million in consensus grant funds be made available to local governments, which will require cooperation between local governing bodies in order to submit a request. He also recommends $5 million in additional direct aid, and $1.5 million in funds for local governments to develop local resource plans.

The budget recommends funds for the University of Wyoming to expand in-state scholarship programs, create an “Excellence in Agriculture and Research” initiative, and continue the investment in science education programs. There is a recommendation to restore $1 million in athletic competitiveness funds to an amount originally requested two years ago. The majority of UW funding requests are for one-time amounts and would require the University to match state dollars with private funds.

The Governor has also asked for pay increases for state, University and community college employees. 

“The number of full time state employees has decreased by 279 since I took office. State employees have not had a pay raise in over four years,” Mead said. “We are seeing wages increasing in the private sector. As we see turnover rates among state workers increasing, it is important to preserve a strong, knowledgeable and skilled workforce.”

In the last session, the Legislature funded programs at the Departments of Health and Family Services for a single year of the biennium. Funds were held in reserve for the second year, and Mead has recommended full funding for those agencies.  Increases are recommended to fund growth in the child health insurance program. Mead is asking for funds to restore the breast and cervical cancer treatment programs – an example of previous cuts going too far in the impact on Wyoming citizens. 

Mead expresses support for an External Cost Adjustment for K-12 schools at just over $19 million – an amount supported in the interim by the Joint Education and Joint Appropriations Committees. 

As he has done in each of the past four budget messages, Mead encourages the Legislature to find stable long term funding to support K-12 school operations and capital construction.

“In recent years we have drained over $500 million from the school foundation’s rainy day account.  Through a series of other transfers and redirection of general funds, we have moved approximately $500 million or more to support the school foundation program and school construction,”  Mead said. “This practice avoids the reality of deficit spending to maintain K-12 funding and creates a dynamic in which the general needs of government compete with schools for limited state resources.”

Mead’s budget provides a positive recommendation for capital construction needs at the community colleges.

Mead has proposed a “government emergency operations account” to assure the next Governor has the resources and flexibility to address anticipated urgent needs. This includes funds to address the potential for increased costs of inmate housing, increased health insurance obligations as well as to address natural disasters. 

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Governor Mead Announces Wyoming State Engineer Pat Tyrrell’s Plans to Retire

posted Nov 27, 2018, 8:51 AM by Chris Mickey   [ updated Nov 27, 2018, 11:23 AM ]


CHEYENNE, Wyo. – State Engineer, Pat Tyrrell has advised Governor Matt Mead of his plan to retire in early January 2019. The State Engineer, serving as the chief water official in the state, is a position established in the Wyoming Constitution – a unique designation signaling historic importance of water to the State. Tyrrell has been the State Engineer since January, 2001.

“Pat Tyrrell has served in this role with distinction,” Governor Mead said. “He is recognized throughout the state, region and nation as an expert on all matters relating to water resources. Pat has a reputation for balance.”

Tyrrell is planning on serving Governor-elect Gordon through the upcoming 2019 General Legislative Session, and will leave office shortly thereafter.

The Wyoming State Engineer’s duties range from overseeing the permitting and adjudication of water rights, regulation of the use of water under the doctrine of prior appropriation, and representing the state on numerous interstate compact commissions. The State Engineer also represents Wyoming on the North Platte Decree Committee, the Western States Water Council, and the Colorado River Salinity Control Forum, among other groups.  It is a cabinet-level position.

Since 1890, Wyoming has had only 16 State Engineers. Technical in nature, the position has a constitutional term of six years, intended to overlap Gubernatorial terms and minimize political influences in the performance of the job.  By the time of his retirement, Tyrrell will have served under four Wyoming Governors.

According to Tyrrell, “I’ve been honored to serve as Wyoming State Engineer. This is my home state, and I’m an outdoors guy. What better way to give back to a state you love than holding such a noble position focused on such an important natural resource? I’ve been lucky to serve as long as I have, and it’s been enormously rewarding. I’m very appreciative that every governor I served was supportive of our mission and helped with resources and decisions so we could perform at our best. And I have been blessed all these years to serve alongside wonderful, dedicated public servants in the State Engineer’s Office”

During his tenure, Tyrrell has dealt with successful compliance with the 2001 Modified North Platte Decree, the Coalbed Natural Gas boom, numerous Colorado River agreements, and served through the entirety of the 11-year United States Supreme Court lawsuit with Montana involving the Yellowstone River Compact. He also was responsible for entering two groundwater orders, one near LaGrange Wyoming and one in central and eastern Laramie County, intended to replace longstanding local disputes with predictable groundwater management policies and long-term groundwater resource protection.

“Previous State Engineers had wrestled with these problems, but they didn’t go away,” Tyrell said. “I didn’t see how we could let them go on festering. In the end I think we struck a balance and made the most equitable decisions we could, for all involved.”

Tyrrell grew up in Cheyenne, and graduated with a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering and M.S. in Civil Engineering, both from the University of Wyoming. In 2016 he was selected as the Wyoming Eminent Engineer by the Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society at UW, and in the fall of 2018 he and his wife Barbara endowed the Patrick and Barbara Tyrrell Engineering Scholarship, also at UW.

Governor Mead Highlights Achievements of Wyoming Classroom Connectivity Initiative

posted Oct 25, 2018, 2:09 PM by Chris Mickey


Today, Governor Matt Mead recognized the achievements of school districts under the Wyoming Classroom Connectivity Initiative. The program, a partnership between the Governor’s Office, the Department of Enterprise Technology Services (ETS), the Wyoming Department of Education and national non-profit EducationSuperHighway, was designed to help schools make use of their federally allocated E-rate funds for Wi-Fi access in classrooms.

Since its launch in 2016, the initiative has been successful in getting Wyoming school districts to take advantage of over $4.6 million in E-rate Category 2 funding. This milestone comes at a critical time since the funding is only guaranteed through 2019 under current Federal Communications Commission guidelines. The efforts to ensure Wyoming schools are equipped with the Wi-Fi connections necessary to enable world-class teaching and learning is in line with Governor Mead’s vision of bringing world class technology and fiber infrastructure to the state.

“Wyoming’s school district administrators are doing everything in their power to leverage opportunities for technology funding available by the E-rate Category 2 funding being offered,” Governor Mead said. “I am proud of the work our school districts are doing to make high speed classroom connectivity and digital learning a priority.”

“Using these funds is a no-brainer for us since it frees up money to use in our district elsewhere,” said Vern McAdams, Director of Business & Operations at Sublette County School District #1. “That’s a teacher’s salary we’re talking about here.”

Initiative leaders used a multi-pronged approach to raise awareness and ensure usage of the funds, including direct outreach and education to all of Wyoming’s 48 school districts, conducting E-rate trainings and webinars across the state, and supporting districts through the procurement cycle for equipment. The assistance comes at no cost to the districts or the state.

The success of this initiative has been instrumental in carrying out the statewide Digital Learning Plan, designed by state statute to provide equal access to education through technology. “Wyoming has emerged as a leader in K-12 broadband connectivity which has improved Internet access in classrooms,” statewide Digital Learning Plan architect, Dr. Laurel Ballard of the Wyoming Department of Education said. “The next step is to aid educators in fully utilizing the resources that are now available for our kids. The Classroom Connectivity Initiative ensures that the Internet access we’ve invested in gets to student devices through robust and reliable Wi-Fi, and can be used for 21st century teaching and learning.”

EducationSuperHighway Founder and CEO Evan Marwell praised the state’s commitment to its students through the initiative. “The cross-agency work we have seen in Wyoming the past three years to achieve these results has been incredible,” Marwell said. “The Governor’s leadership combined with impressive execution from the Department of Enterprise Technology Services and the Wyoming Department of Education have resulted in Wyoming students receiving the educational opportunities they deserve.”

36 out of 48 school districts have accessed funding and work is currently underway to engage the remaining 12 districts this year. Districts that still have available Category 2 funds are encouraged to contact state E-rate coordinator, Clementina Jimenez to find out how to receive free assistance from the Classroom Connectivity Initiative.

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Wyoming Continues Work on Government Savings and Efficiency Projects

posted Oct 19, 2018, 9:45 AM by Chris Mickey


The state of Wyoming recently signed a contract with consultants Alvarez and Marsal to continue work on government savings and efficiency projects identified last year. In 2017, the Government Savings and Efficiency Commission contracted with Alvarez and Marsal to study several areas of state government. The goal was to find potential changes to government that would result in general fund savings or ways to conduct state operations more efficiently. Results of the study were incorporated into a final report to the legislature.

Senate File 120 advances the efficiency effort and includes several recommendations from the Alvarez and Marsal report. Savings and efficiency projects are determined by the Governor with the consultation of the Commission.

“Several good recommendations came from Alvarez and Marsal’s first report and the Legislature provided me the opportunity to pursue many of them,” said Governor Matt Mead. “Wyoming will continue working towards greater efficiency and spending our dollars wisely. Streamlining government has been one of the foundations of my administration from the beginning.”

Governor Mead has identified these initial projects:

  • Integrate technology across State agencies;
  • Develop regional service centers for school districts;
  • Implement and expand shared services throughout State agencies;
  • Conduct a statewide organizational and line of service review of state operations to reveal overlapping state agency responsibilities and recommend opportunities to streamline;
  • Conduct a strategic sourcing review with the State’s procurement system and implement sourcing solutions as practical and appropriate;
  • Explore Medicaid billing for school-based special education services;
  • Establish a project management office; and
  • Other projects as approved by the Governor.

“It was important to leave room in the contract for the next Administration to evaluate the ongoing projects and determine which ones will continue, which projects to adjust and the ability to propose new projects based on their own priorities,” Governor Mead continued. “Projects need to be prioritized since they cannot be funded simultaneously.”

Alvarez and Marsal will utilize their subject matter expertise to: establish a Project Management Office, implement project management tools, develop a framework to identify and quantify savings associated with projects, assist with project execution, develop a means to monitor and report on progress and identify additional projects the state should pursue.

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Wyoming Opens Trade Office in Taiwan

posted Oct 10, 2018, 8:23 AM by Chris Mickey

Governor Matt Mead has completed a successful trade mission to Taiwan, where he opened the Wyoming – Asia Pacific Trade Office. The goal is to establish and grow trade between Wyoming and Taiwan in agriculture, manufactured goods, minerals and tourism. He was joined by a number of Wyoming legislators, agriculture producers and state leaders. The process of establishing this office and naming a trade representative was outlined during the 2018 Legislative session.

The Wyoming delegation’s activities included dinner at one of Taiwan’s top restaurants, which served Wyoming beef. The export of Wyoming beef to Taiwan is one of the goals of the trade effort.

“This was my third trip to Taiwan, and I’ve learned that people in Taiwan and the Asian Pacific region in general, love Wyoming,” said Governor Matt Mead. “They like the products that come from our state and admire Wyoming’s culture. Opening a trade office there will provide Wyoming companies many opportunities to grow in international markets starting with Taiwan and expanding into other Asian countries.”  

Wyoming agricultural companies were present in Taiwan to explore market opportunities. This included: Murraymere Farms and GF Harvest both of Powell; True Ranches of Casper; and Wyoming Malting Company of Pine Bluffs. Representatives from these companies visited wholesalers, grocers, import companies, meat processors and restaurants during their four-day trade mission. This was funded by the Wyoming Business Council and the State Trade and Export Promotion (STEP) program, a federal initiative to increase United States exports.

The Wyoming delegation also included President of the Senate, Eli Bebout, Senator Ogden Driskill, Representatives David Miller and Bob Nicholas, Wyoming Business Council CEO, Shawn Reese, Director of the Wyoming Department of Agriculture, Doug Miyamoto, Executive Vice President of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association, Jim Magagna and Business Development Assistant Director for the Wyoming Business Council, Brandon Marshall.

After a competitive process, the Wyoming Business Council (WBC) selected Chester Chu as Wyoming’s international trade representative. He helped initiate the meetings and events as part of his role in helping Wyoming companies establish a presence in Asian markets.

Chu is tasked with establishing and building relationships between Asian buyers and distributors and Wyoming businesses, assisting Wyoming exporters traveling to Asia and attending trade industry events. He will also educate Wyoming businesses on exporting to Taiwan and identify market demand that Wyoming can fulfill.

“The Business Council is working to increase Wyoming’s prosperity by helping establish international markets for our established commodities like coal and soda ash, but also food and manufactured goods,” Business Council CEO Shawn Reese said. “Besides new markets, there are many opportunities in Taiwan to increase technology, research and development, and educational exchanges.  Taiwan is a focal point for the rapidly growing Asian market that wants the kinds of products and ideas Wyoming businesses can provide.”

During the trip, Governor Mead also had the opportunity to visit Cheyenne’s sister city, Taichung City and attended several meetings and events between the Taiwanese and Wyoming’s delegation. For the attendees not part of the STEP program, most of the trip expenses were funded by the Taiwan Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Governor's Business Forum set for November 13-15 in Cheyenne

posted Oct 8, 2018, 3:38 PM by Chris Mickey


Governor Matt Mead will kick off the 2018 Governor's Business Forum, which takes place November 13-15 at the Little America Hotel and Resort in Cheyenne. This year's forum focuses on how Wyoming can chart a new course by pioneering technology frontiers, pursuing international trade and looking for ways to revolutionize the way the state does business.

"Wyoming must evaluate ways to strengthen, diversify and expand its economy," said Governor Mead.  "This forum provides a chance to discuss opportunities for Wyoming to improve the lives of our future generations. It also brings together business leaders from all over the state to foster collaboration, share best business practices and network with new and old colleagues."

The Wyoming Business Alliance and the Wyoming Heritage Foundation will co-host the Governor's Business Forum. The 2018 forum includes nationally recognized speakers such as best-selling author and tech pioneer Michael Rogers, national fiscal experts Katherine Barrett and Richard Greene and author Sam Western. There will also be a panel discussion with Governor Mead, past Wyoming Governors and legislative leadership who will provide insight for the upcoming 2019 legislative session.

"Cutting-edge technologies like cryptocurrency, blockchain and advanced robotics will change how Wyoming industries do business," said Cindy DeLancey, President of the Wyoming Business Alliance/Wyoming Heritage Foundation. "To stay relevant and competitive, Wyoming needs to better understand the opportunities and challenges we are facing, so we can decide how to move forward."

A banquet on November 14th will be a celebration of this year’s winner of the Daniels Fund Ethical Leadership Award, a joint venture among the Wyoming Business Alliance, the Daniels Fund and the University of Wyoming College of Business.

For more information and to register, please go to www.wyomingbusinessalliance.com.

Wyoming Becomes "Agreement-State" Giving Authority to License and Inspect Mining and Milling of Uranium in State

posted Sep 25, 2018, 11:37 AM by Chris Mickey   [ updated Oct 4, 2018, 8:55 AM ]


CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Today, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead signed an agreement with the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) which gives the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) the authority to regulate uranium recovery operations within the State.

The NRC has previously maintained this authority. By managing the program at a state level, permitting redundancy will be eliminated and better oversight will be provided as Wyoming is closer to industry activities.

“Wyoming will regulate uranium using the same high standards set by the NRC,” said Governor Matt Mead. “Wyoming DEQ has done a great job ensuring that all the program requirements have been met and will continue to be effectively implemented. I thank the NRC and DEQ for standing this program up quickly and cost efficiently.”

“Wyoming had to develop a program that would meet the NRC compatibility requirements to become an Agreement State," said Kyle Wendtland, Land Quality Division Administrator. "In order to accomplish this goal, Wyoming had to implement new governing statutes, rules and regulations, guidance, and policies and procedures compatible with NRC's requirements."

Wendtland added that the program also had to be staffed with employees that meet the NRC qualifications, such as expertise in health physics.  

"The department met all of the program standup requirements in about a three-and-half-year time frame. This was two years ahead of the original proposed schedule and $2.5 million under budget," said Wendtland.

According to Todd Parfitt, DEQ Director, much of the success in obtaining the agreement ahead of schedule and below budget, was the timely and high-quality responses from the NRC staff to DEQ.

"This was a cooperative effort, and thank you is simply not enough for the appreciation of the NRC staff involved in this effort," said Parfitt.

With this approval, Wyoming will become the 38th state to receive "Agreement State" authority. Additionally, Wyoming will become the first state to obtain limited agreement for radioactive materials solely involved in uranium recovery operations. NRC will continue regulating the other radioactive material in the state used in settings such as laboratories, hospitals, and universities.

DEQ will assume "Agreement State" authority on September 30, 2018.

 

Historical Information

The Atomic Energy Act of 1954 as amended (AEA), Section 274, authorizes the NRC to enter into agreements with the states to allow them to assume regulatory functions that would otherwise be the responsibility of the NRC. States that choose to assume this regulatory authority over some or all of the radioactive materials within the state are therefore known as “Agreement States”.

In 2013, a feasibility study for becoming an "Agreement State" was completed for the Wyoming Legislature. This study provided a clear view of the process to become an "Agreement State", the strategic decisions involved in that process, and an understanding of the regulatory issues and responsibilities associated with the maintenance of an "Agreement State" program after receiving approval from the NRC.

In 2015, the Wyoming Legislature and Governor Mead officially gave DEQ the authority to begin the process of becoming an "Agreement State".

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Grizzly Bear Rule Vacated

posted Sep 25, 2018, 11:29 AM by Chris Mickey


Yesterday, a Federal District Court Judge in Montana vacated a 2017 rule promulgated by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) that ended Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE). Effective immediately grizzly bears are again listed as threatened under the ESA. Accordingly, the grizzly bear hunting season authorized for this fall is cancelled.

“I am disappointed with yesterday’s decision,” said Governor Mead. “Grizzly bear recovery should be viewed as a conservation success story. Due to Wyoming’s investment of approximately $50 million for recovery and management, grizzly bears have exceeded every scientifically established recovery criteria in the GYE since 2003. Numbers have risen from as few as 136 bears when they were listed in 1975, to more than 700 today.”

“Biologists correctly determined grizzly bears no longer needed ESA protections,” he noted. “The decision to return grizzly bears to the list of threatened and endangered species is further evidence that the ESA is not working as its drafters intended. Congress should modernize the ESA so we can celebrate successes and focus our efforts on species in need.”

“This is unfortunate,” said Scott Talbott, director of the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. “Game and Fish is a strong proponent of all wildlife management being led by people who live in this state and having management decisions made at the local level. We will do our part to ensure the shift back to federal management will be seamless, just as we did in 2009 when grizzly bears were returned to the endangered species list after having been under state management for just over a year.”

History of grizzly delisting:

In 2007, the FWS delisted grizzly bears in the GYE. A federal judge reinstated protections in 2009 after finding that the FWS did not adequately consider the impacts of the decline of whitebark pine nuts – a grizzly bear food source. In 2013, the Interagency Grizzly Bear Study Team determined that the reduction in whitebark pine nuts did not significantly impact grizzly bears and again recommended delisting. In 2017, the FWS published a rule delisting grizzly bears in the GYE. States gave additional assurance regarding long-term viability. Wyoming has adopted a Grizzly Bear Management Plan, that is has been implementing since delisting in 2017. That document is available on the Game and Fish Department website.

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Wyoming Experiencing Heavy Wildfire Activity

posted Sep 25, 2018, 9:26 AM by Chris Mickey


CHEYENNE, Wyo. – Wyoming currently has four large fires burning. The Roosevelt fire near Bondurant, the Ryan fire in Carbon County, the Marten fire East of Afton and the Irish fire Southeast of Boulder.

The Roosevelt fire has burned 48 thousand acres. It is classified as a Type 1 fire and is a national priority. There are 1,000 personnel fighting the fire. The number of homes evacuated is currently 300. It is 22% contained. The Ryan fire is at 20 thousand acres and is 0% contained. The Marten fire is at 6,300 acres and is 20% contained. The Irish fire is being managed by local resources.

Wyoming is experiencing high fire danger statewide with red flag conditions common. These fires are extreme and dangerous because of terrain, fuel and weather conditions. Firefighters from across the nation are working to protect lives and property.

“Public safety and firefighter safety are the top priority,” said Governor Matt Mead. “I have asked that all resources necessary to fight these fires be made available. My heart is with those whose property and homes are in harm’s way and the firefighters working to protect them.”

Red Cross shelters are open in Pinedale to provide assistance to those who need help.

Further information on these fires can be found at: www.inciweb.nwcg.gov      

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