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Legislators propose to amend state constitution to do away with state superintendent post

Feb 12, 2014 - The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- A bipartisan group of lawmakers is proposing a constitutional amendment to eliminate the state superintendent of public instruction.

The proposal would assign the responsibility for overseeing Wyoming's public education system to the governor.

The post is held currently by Cindy Hill, who has been under fire from the governor and key Republican lawmakers almost from the beginning of her administration in 2011. She has announced her own candidacy for governor this year.

The amendment proposal would need a two-thirds vote in each house of the Legislature before it would be placed on the 2016 general election statewide ballot. If voters approve, the change would not be effective until 2019, meaning whoever is elected superintendent this year would be the last.

The proposal comes as the Legislature, Gov. Matt Mead and current Superintendent Cindy Hill have been battling over the superintendent's powers and duties.

The state Supreme Court recently ruled unconstitutional a new law removing the superintendent as head of the state Education Department, although the state has maneuvered successfully so far to prevent Hill from resuming her old duties.

In other developments at the Wyoming Legislature:

- Domestic Assault and Battery: The Wyoming House of Representatives gave initial approval to a bill that would designate the new crimes of domestic assault and domestic batter to cover incidents when household members mistreat each other.

- Minimum Wage: The House voted against introducing a bill to raise the state minimum wage. The bill sponsored by Rep. James Byrd, D-Cheyenne, would have hiked the minimum wage from $5 to $9 an hour and raised the base pay for tipped employees from $2.13 an hour to $5 an hour.

- State Cookie: The House voted against introducing a bill to designate the chocolate-chip cookie as the state cookie.

- Marijuana: The House voted against introducing a bill sponsored by Byrd that would have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana.

- Hunter Education: The Wyoming Senate gave preliminary approval to a bill that would expand the exemption requiring hunter education training for younger hunters. The bill would allow an adult hunter to supervise more than one young relative who hasn't completed the training. The bill would also exempt certified state peace offers and veterans from the hunter education requirement.

- Firing Squads: The Senate voted not to consider a bill to allow the use of firing squads to execute condemned inmates. The bill's sponsor, Sen. Bruce Burns, R-Sheridan, said states have had trouble getting drugs for lethal injection. Wyoming doesn't have a gas chamber and he questioned the expense of building one for infrequent executions.