Wyoming News Update

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Latest Wyoming news, sports, business and entertainment.

SEX WITH INMATE

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — An employee of a Casper center that provides rehabilitation and substance abuse treatment to inmates has pleaded not guilty to having sex with an inmate on multiple occasions.

The Casper Star-Tribune reports the woman pleaded not guilty to sexual assault charges Thursday.

Court documents say a state Department of Corrections investigation found the suspect had sex with the inmate in her home at least three times.

The woman is a resident manager at the Casper Re-Entry Center, which contracts with the department to provide drug treatment to inmates before their release.

Wyoming law prohibits employees of correctional institutions from having sex with inmates.

The center's former director reported the alleged relationship between the employee and inmate in June.

The current director didn't respond to requests for comment Thursday.

PRIMARY PARTY CHANGE

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The Wyoming voter tradition of changing party affiliation at the polls on primary day lives on.

A legislative committee killed a bill Thursday that would have made it much harder for Democrats to vote in Republican primaries and vice-versa. Voters would have been allowed to switch parties no fewer than 30 days before primary day.

The bill made it through the Wyoming House before dying 3-0 in the Senate corporations committee. Supporters including Wyoming Republican Party Chairman Matt Micheli (MY'-kel-eye) say political parties are private organizations and members only should decide who represents those organizations.

Opponents including Marguerite Herman with the League of Women Voters say existing law encourages people to vote for individuals instead of political parties. She says it's not clear what problem the bill sought to fix.

CIGARETTE TAX

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — A Senate committee has killed a bill that would have raised the state tax on cigarettes by 30 cents a pack.

House Bill 151 failed on 3-2 vote in the Senate Revenue Committee on Thursday. It had passed the state House on a close vote earlier.

Wyoming now levies a tax of 60 cents per pack, raising about $20 million a year in state and local tax revenue. The bill would have raised the tax to 90 cents, adding about another $10 million a year.

Some state lawmakers have been looking for new revenues to help make up for the huge revenue losses from the energy industry downturn.

The state uses its revenue from the cigarette tax to help pay for various health-related programs, such as substance abuse programs.

WYOMING FLOODING

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — The danger of flooding on the Bighorn River in northern Wyoming has lessened.

The National Weather Service says ice jams on the Bighorn had thinned considerably Thursday although a flood advisory remains in effect along parts of the river because of the unpredictability of river ice.

About 100 state National Guard personnel and firefighters are helping fill and place sandbags to shore up flood-prone areas along the river at Greybull in Big Horn County.

Rapid snowmelt and ice jams caused the Bighorn River to flood parts of Worland in Washakie County last weekend.

Preliminary damage assessments in Worland by the Red Cross found one home with major flood damage and six with minor damage.

There was no estimated dollar value of the damage.

ONLINE SALES TAXES

CASPER, Wyo. (AP) — A bill that would have online companies that sell goods to Wyoming residents to be required to collect Wyoming's sales tax on the transaction has advanced through the Legislature.

KTWO-AM reports that the Senate approved the bill Wednesday and it previously passed the state house. The bill now heads back to the house for a concurrence vote.

The tax collection would be expected to generate about $28 million in revenues for state and local government if the bill passes.

Despite support from lawmakers, it's unclear Wyoming would ever collect the tax based on a 1992 U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a North Dakota Case that bans the collection of internet sales taxes on companies that don't have a presence within the state trying to collect the tax.

GRAND TETON-SKIER DEATH

MOOSE, Wyo. (AP) — A 26-year-old man has died after falling about 1,400 feet while skiing in Grand Teton National Park.

The National Park Service says John "Jack" Fields Jr. of Jackson fell Wednesday morning down a narrow, steep gully on the South Teton Mountain.

Rangers recovered the body about 6 p.m. Wednesday.

The Park Service says Fields was skiing with three others down the mountain they had summited earlier in the day.

On the way down, the other skiers saw Fields fall and slide out of sight.

The other skiers eventually made it down the mountain via a different route.