Wyoming News Update

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Here is the latest Wyoming news from The Associated Press

Cities group wants state to get rid of administrative fee

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming Association of Municipalities is fighting to end the state's collection of an administrative fee that brought in $5.8 million for the state last year.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that local governments receive 31 percent of sales and use tax collected in the state based on their population. The state then charges a 1 percent fee when it processes local sales tax revenue and the money goes into Wyoming's general fund.

The association's deputy director, Laurie Heath, argued in front of the Casper City Council last week that the money collected from the fee isn't being used properly. She says it should go toward administrative costs or be returned to local governments.

Under Wyoming's tax code, the 1 percent fee is intended to "defray the costs of collecting the tax and administrative expenses."

Heath says the municipalities association is drafting a bill on the matter for the state Legislature to consider.

Ruling backs Montana's right to Wyoming water for reservoir

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — A special master appointed by the U.S. Supreme Court in a long-running dispute over state water rights says Wyoming is obligated to provide enough water to fill a reservoir in Montana.

But Special Master Barton Thompson Jr. is rejecting Montana's bid to be reimbursed for some of the more than $4.6 million it has spent in the 2007 lawsuit against its southern neighbor.

Thompson said in a ruling this week that Montana is not entitled to recover costs incurred since he issued preliminary recommendations in February 2010. Montana Justice Department spokesman Eric Sell did not have an estimate for those costs.

Montana claims it was shorted on water flowing down the Tongue River from Wyoming during 15 years. Thompson concluded the shortage was just two years and Montana deserves $35,877 in compensation.

Skiers won't be charged over Teton Pass avalanche

JACKSON, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming officials say skiers will not be criminally prosecuted in connection with an avalanche on Teton Pass.

The Jackson Hole News & Guide reports that there was initial suspicion that skiers were responsible for the large avalanche that on Thursday hit a vehicle and closed a highway to thousands of commuters.

In a press release, Teton County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Todd Stanyon says there was insufficient evidence to back up that theory. He says a skier could be prosecuted if police could show that he or she had a reckless disregard for other people, such as by skiing in an avalanche path when the risk is high.

Police save five of eight backcountry skiers were identified and interviewed.

Someone pays off layaway gifts in struggling Wyoming city

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — An anonymous person has paid $4,600 to cover layaway gifts at a Walmart store in a northeast Wyoming city hit hard by a struggling oil, gas and coal industry.

Gillette store co-manager Jackline Rinehardt says the secret Santa specifically picked accounts that had toys in them.

Rinehardt tells the Gillette News Record that he ended up paying off between 15 and 20 layaways.

She says a lot of people with kids in the community lost their jobs and didn't know what they were going to do for Christmas.

Lawmaker proposes to keep daylight saving time year-round

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming residents could be saving daylight all year if one lawmaker's plan makes it through the Legislature.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports that Rep. Dan Laursen, of Powell, is proposing the state eliminate standard time, which runs from November to March.

Laursen says moving clocks back and forth an hour can be hard on students and the elderly. He also says he has a hard time remembering how to keep all the times straight.

Last year, Laursen proposed the state eliminate daylight saving time and instead operate on standard time all year but he faced opposition. He says he hopes the inverse proposal will get more support.