May 10, 2013 The Associated Press

GOP leaders dodge Hill talk

CODY -- State lawmakers gathered at a public forum in Cody refused to talk about recent legislation that has stripped the state superintendent of public instruction of many of her duties.

Park County Republicans hosted the meeting and participants included Sen. Hank Coe, R-Cody and co-chairman of the Joint Education Committee. The new law was expected to be a main topic of discussion.

Coe announced at Tuesday's meeting that the bill wouldn't be discussed due to pending litigation. State Superintendent Cindy Hill has filed a lawsuit contesting the new law.

The other lawmakers present were Sens. Gerry Geis, R-Worland, and Reps. Elaine Harvey, R-Lovell, Sam Krone, R-Cody, David Northrup, R-Powell, and Nathan Winters, R-Thermopolis.

Geis and Winters opposed the bill and the other four supported it.

Park's south entrance open

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK -- The South Entrance to Yellowstone National Park opened Friday and now nearly all park roads are open to auto traffic for the season.

The south gate lifted for a line of vehicles on the originally scheduled date. Federal budget cuts had threatened to delay the opening by up to two weeks.

The budget cuts took effect March 1. Yellowstone officials delayed plowing to save money. The decision worried local business owners, who fretted about less tourism.

The businesses and towns of Jackson and Cody raised $171,000 to hire Wyoming Department of Transportation crews to help with plowing. The effort enabled all park entrances to open on time.

Enzi waits on minerals bill

CHEYENNE -- Wyoming's senior U.S. senator is delaying the release of legislation that aims to block the federal government from cutting mineral royalty payments to 35 states.

Sen. Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., had said he planned to release a bill this week after the Department of Interior announced it would make $110 million in cuts this year.

Daniel Head is a spokesman for Enzi in Washington. He said Thursday that the senator now plans to release the bill next week because he's working to gather more supporters in the House.

As the nation's leading coal-producing state, Wyoming stands to lose more than $50 million in royalties for minerals mined from federal land.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said this week that her agency had no choice but to trim the payments because of the automatic federal budget cuts that started March 1.

Drought easing in southeast

CHEYENNE -- The latest report from the U.S. Department of Agriculture shows southeast Wyoming may be emerging from 11 months of drought.

The USDA's weekly Drought Monitor out Thursday shows the Cheyenne area has been downgraded from "moderate drought" to "abnormally dry."

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