2nd Judicial District Court Judge Tori Kricken to resign
The state Judicial Nominating Commission is accepting expressions of interest to fill an upcoming seat in the Wyoming 2nd Judicial District, which covers Albany County.
Judge Tori Kricken is resigning her position on the bench effective Aug. 15.
Kricken, a former District Court judge in Albany County, was appointed to the 2nd Judicial District bench by former Gov. Matt Mead in October 2016, and began his service Jan 2, 2017.
The Judicial Nominating Commission will accept applications from qualified persons (a qualified elector in the state and authorized to practice law here), which are available on the Wyoming Supreme Court website at courts.state.wy.us/administration/careers. The completed forms must be received no later than 5 pm May 13.
The commission asks people to not submit letters of recommendation, as only review documents specifically required by the expression of interest will be considered.
gov. Mark Gordon will appoint a new 2nd Judicial Court judge from a list of three names submitted to him by the Nomination Commission.
The salary for the position is $160,000 a year with state benefits, retirement and a generous judicial pension, as per Wyoming statute.
Enroll Wyo. offers free health insurance assistance
Many people don’t realize they currently qualify for comprehensive and affordable health insurance, and could sign up today. Expanded benefits and cheaper costs can be found by connecting with Enroll Wyoming, a nonprofit that provides free assistance to explore health options.
People may qualify for the Health Insurance Marketplace based on income or recent life-aging experiences like marriage, a new child joining the home or losing health insurance. This allows Americans to access the Marketplace, where cost savings like tax credits make four out of five health plans as cheap as $50 a month.
People also qualify if their household income is between 100% and 150% of federal poverty levels. For example, a four-member family qualifies if its annual income is between $26,500 and $39,750. Find out if you qualify by talking to an Enroll Wyoming Navigator or visiting www.healthcare.gov/screener.
Enroll Wyoming is a grant-funded nonprofit and doesn’t have sales incentives or quotas. Navigators provide detailed information so families and individuals can make the choices that best benefit their situations, according to a news release.
Connecting with an Enroll Wyoming is as easy as calling 211 and asking for a health insurance navigator.
Wyoming deaths again higher than normal
Official records filed with Vital Statistics Services, which is part of the Wyoming Department of Health, show another sharp increase in deaths last year over what would have been expected before the COVID-19 pandemic; there were also more births, more marriages and fewer divorces among residents.
Among Wyoming residents, there were 6,572 deaths recorded in 2021, 5,986 deaths recorded in 2020 and 5,122 deaths in 2019, according to official death certificate information. Death certificates are completed by attending physicians and coroners and then filed with VSS.
“Before the pandemic, our data has shown steady, small increases in deaths for several years, largely due to our state’s aging population. That’s something we would have reasonably expected to continue,” Guy Beaudoin, VSS deputy state registrar with WDH, said in a news release. “However, the dramatically increased numbers of deaths over the last two years are unprecedented in Wyoming. It’s clear COVID-19 was a driving factor.”
Beaudoin noted the top five causes of death in Wyoming for 2021 were cancers (1,151), heart diseases (1,113), COVID-19 (1,025), various types of accidents and adverse effects (379) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and related conditions ( 355).
“Unfortunately, Wyoming continues to have a high suicide rate,” Beaudoin said. “There were small increases in the number of suicide completions in each of the last two years, but there have been other times over the last decade with significantly larger year-over-year jumps, as well as some years with reductions.”
In 2021, 189 (+7 over 2020) suicides were recorded among Wyoming residents, compared to 182 in 2020 (+13 over 2019). Previously, there were 169 in 2019 (+22 over 2018), 147 in 2018 (-8 over 2017), 155 in 2017 (+12 over 2016), 143 in 2016 (-12 over 2015), 155 in 2015 (+36 over 2014), 119 in 2014 (-9 over 213), 128 in 2013 (-44 over 2012) and 172 in 2012.
Wyoming’s data shows that about 72% of suicide deaths in 2021 were due to firearms, with 22% due to hanging and 4% due to poisoning.
“Deaths attributed to overdoses are another area of interest where over time we have seen increases between some years and decreases between others,” Beaudoin said. “Of note, we do continue to see the percentage of overdose deaths caused by illicit drugs rather than prescription drugs as growing within our state.”
In 2021, there were 95 (+5 over 2020) overdose deaths recorded among Wyoming residents, compared to 90 in 2020 (+9 over 2019). Previously, there were 81 in 2019 (+16 over 2018), 65 in 2018 (+5 over 2017), 60 in 2017 (-34 over 2016), 94 in 2016 (-1 over 2015), 95 in 2015 (-12 over 2014), 107 in 2014 (+11 over 2013), 96 in 2013 (-3 over 2012), and 99 in 2012.
“Last year was the first in quite some time with an increase recorded in the number of new babies in Wyoming,” Beaudoin said. “Previously, we had seen an ongoing significant downward trend over several years.”
There were 6,232 births among Wyoming resident mothers in 2021, compared with 6,132 in 2020. The high over the past decade was in 2015, with 7,678 resident births.
VSS also holds marriage and divorce records. There were 4,274 marriages recorded in Wyoming last year, compared to 3,986 in 2020 and 4,062 in 2019, before the pandemic. As far as divorces, there were 2,158 finalized in 2021, compared with 2,227 divorces in 2020 and 2,253 in 2019, before the pandemic.
Gordon supports lawsuit challenging border policy
gov. Mark Gordon has announced that Wyoming is among the states joining a lawsuit filed by Arizona, Louisiana and Missouri challenging the Biden administration’s revocation of Title 42 border control measures.
These Trump-era border policies helped reduce the flow of illegal immigration at the United States-Mexico border, according to a Thursday news release from Gordon’s office.
Last fall, Gordon visited the southern border and joined 25 other governors in releasing 10 policy solutions that the Biden administration could enact immediately to address the crisis at the southern border. Among those solutions was a continuation of the Title 42 orders, an effective tool at limiting border crossings and supporting public health, Gordon’s office said.
“The Biden administration’s continued failure to fulfill its constitutional duty and secure our border impacts all Americans,” Gordon said in the release. “When the federal government does not fulfill its responsibilities, states are compelled to take legal action to protect their residents from the impacts of this border crisis. Wyoming will stand by our fellow states to protect our borders.”
The lawsuit “challenges an imminent, man-made, self-inflicted calamity: the abrupt elimination of the only safety valve preventing this administration’s disastrous border policies from devolving into unmitigated chaos and catastrophe.” A copy of the complaint is available at https://tinyurl.com/border-policy-lawsuit.
Child support program no. 1 for 9th year
Wyoming’s Child Support Program was ranked number one in the nation for the ninth consecutive year based on performance and federal standards. The CSP is managed by the Department of Family Services.
Maximus, a company that specializes in health and human services programs, compiles the data for all states and territories. Then, the North Dakota child support director calculates and determines the ranking.
“We believe this recognition as the nation’s number one performing program demonstrates Wyoming families are receiving the services they need, and families are receiving their court-ordered child support,” said Kristie Arneson, economic security senior administrator with DFS, in a news release. “Those are always our goals.”
CSP goals include finding biological parents; establishing paternity; establishing child support and medical support orders; enforcing child support and medical support orders, and modifying existing orders. The CSP also serves as a “pass through” by receiving and disbursing child support payments to custodial parents.
The federal child support performance measures are: the number of cases with a child support order; paternity establishment; collection of current support; collection of arrears (back-owed child support) and cost effectiveness.