Wyoming News Update

Posted in

Latest Wyoming news, sports, business and entertainment

Casper woman in carbon monoxide case accepts reduced award

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A Casper woman who suffered a permanent brain injury from carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty furnace in her apartment will receive only a fraction of the $28 million a jury awarded her in 2013.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that Amber Lompe's attorneys confirmed Thursday she wouldn't challenge an appeals court ruling that reduced the award to less than $2 million.

Lompe had sued apartment owner Sunridge Partners LLC and Apartment Management Consultants alleging they knew about a previous carbon monoxide leak and failed to repair or replace the furnaces before she was poisoned in 2011.

The appeals court determined in April that the federal jury award against the companies was "grossly excessive," saying their conduct resulted from indifference rather than malice.

Affordable Care Act rates to climb 7 percent in Wyoming

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Health insurance rates for Wyoming residents under the federal Affordable Care Act are set to climb an average of 7 percent next year.

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wyoming is the only company offering insurance under the program in the state and currently insures nearly 24,000 people.

The most popular level of individual coverage this year costs over $460 a month and rates for families are higher. Most people in the program qualify for federal tax credits that cover the bulk of the cost.

The registration period to buy coverage for next year opens in November.

Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso is a vocal critic of the program. He notes many insurance companies have dropped out of the program nationwide and says he believes it's close to collapse.

Clinton backs bill to protect benefits for ex-coal miners

WASHINGTON (AP) — Hillary Clinton is supporting a bill that would protect health-care and pension benefits for about 120,000 former coal miners and their families.

The Democratic presidential candidate says in a statement that people who have spent their lives "keeping the lights on for our country" should not be left without benefits after they retire. The statement was obtained by The Associated Press.

Clinton's statement comes as thousands of retired miners and their supporters are expected to gather at the Capitol on Thursday to push for the bill. Backers call it a life-saving measure that honors a 70-year-old promise from the federal government.

The measure has divided coal-state Republicans. Several endangered incumbents support the bill, but Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and other GOP leaders are wary of bailing out unionized workers.

Wyoming man pleads no contest in baby sitter's assault

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A Wyoming man has pleaded no contest to charges associated with the sexual assault of a 16-year-old girl who was babysitting his children.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that Benjamin Marquez of Bar Nunn pleaded no contest Wednesday to sexual abuse of a minor. In exchange, prosecutors dropped a sexual assault charge.

Marquez faces a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison.

Authorities say Marquez went into his child's locked bedroom where the baby sitter was sleeping and raped her, although the teenager said "no" three times and eventually pushed him off. State prosecutor Brett Johnson told the court that the girl woke up with Marquez on top of her.

Marquez told police he had "blacked out" after drinking alcohol. His DNA matched that found on the victim's underwear.

Ag secretary says private investment needed to help grouse

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — U.S. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says almost $1.3 million in grants are being awarded to two private-sector programs aimed at conserving greater sage grouse across the American West.

Thursday's announcement is part of a broad government effort to protect the chicken-sized bird's sagebrush habitat and keep it off the endangered species list.

Vilsack told The Associated Press the programs will reduce risks to the private sector for investments in restoration.

Grant recipient i2 Capital is setting up a conservation bank in Wyoming that credits ranchers and landowners for protecting habitat. Oil and gas companies and others can purchase the credits to offset the impacts of development.

The other program, from KCOE Isom, establishes a fund to guarantee landowners in seven states can recover their costs after restoring sage grouse habitat.