UP to Visit Cheyenne and the city of Cheyenne for entering into a Memorandum of Understanding that will help fund the development of a Cheyenne Railroad Visitor Center downtown.
As currently proposed, a line of rail cars on the south side of 15th Street would be featured at the visitor center, near the historic former Union Pacific depot. According to preliminary plans, there could be shops, boutiques, a restaurant, a museum and more inside the refurbished cars. The MOU sets terms and conditions for the project between the two parties, which will include up to $120,000 in public funding as the attraction is developed.
Of course, the depot already houses the nonprofit Cheyenne Depot Museum, and Mayor Patrick Collins has said he’s working with Union Pacific officials on the possibility of connecting the depot with the nearby roundhouse, which houses UP’s small fleet of operational, historic steam engines.
All of this put together sounds like a fantastic tourist attraction for railroad buffs and those with casual interest alike. And it fits perfectly with Visit Cheyenne's long-term goal of making the capital city a year-round tourist destination.
UP to members and supporters of Recover Wyoming, including Laramie County Commissioner Gunnar Malm, for participating in a small rally and march Sept. 30 at the state Capitol to help remove the stigma associated with recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction.
The group that gathered on that Thursday morning may have been small, but its message was mighty: People who struggle with substance use need to come out and seek help, and those who don't need to advocate for resources and policies that support those who do.
Commissioner Malm said he feels like he got a "bonus life." An alcoholic with just over six years of sobriety, he said that before he entered recovery, there were several moments in which his life could have ended. Now he's an elected official, getting to go places and do things he never could have imagined.
If Mr. Malm can do it, so can you. And thanks to the resources and network of people in recovery provided by Recover Wyoming, you don't have to do it alone.
DOWN and UP to members of the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Revenue Interim Committee for rejecting one proposal and advancing another to reduce the state's dependence on revenue from the minerals and fossil fuels industries.
We were disappointed to see the committee vote 4-9 at its Sept. 29 meeting to reject a proposal by Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, to create a new energy tax structure that would be shared across all electricity producers.
According to the Casper Star-Tribune, Case proposed a gross receipts tax that would have been levied on producers’ total sales. Regardless of the energy source used to produce the electricity – coal, natural gas, wind, solar, etc. – the state would collect revenue. It also wouldn't have added to the tax burden on existing energy producers in Wyoming, because it would have given credits for existing generation fees, including the severance taxes paid by coal, oil and gas companies.
And Mr. Case said just 4% of the new tax would have been paid by Wyoming residents and commercial customers, with 85% going to out-of-state customers. (Mr. Case could still bring the proposal to the full Legislature himself, but committee bills generally fare better.)
The Riverton Ranger reported that by a vote of 8-5, the same committee voted to have a bill drafted that would impose a 7% tax on people who have "income from business activity in Wyoming." The bill would provide a way to calculate the taxable income for businesses that make money both inside and outside the state, and it wouldn't impact businesses with income below a certain level.
Although it wouldn't go into effect for four years, and it still faces an uphill battle – as previous corporate income tax bills have in the past – we're glad to see the committee advance something to address the state's revenue problems. Between now at the Feb. 14 start of the budget session, we hope they do more.
UP to Laramie County Community College for holding a conference and panel discussion about the manufacturing sector, highlighting the need for a qualified workforce in Wyoming.
While it was disappointing to learn that more than 30 manufacturing companies decided not to move to Cheyenne last year, we’re not that surprised, since business leaders have been talking about the lack of workforce for some time. We're glad local experts are looking for ways to keep that from happening again, including seeking $3 million through the Nov. 2 sixth-penny sales tax election to build out LCCC’s manufacturing training program.
This won't solve problems like the lack of affordable housing, of course, but it's a start.