The Saratoga Sun -

Barrasso comes to HEM

Senator talks policy, takes questions in visit to Hanna


Mike Armstrong

Wyoming U.S. Senator John Barrasso talks to HEM students and faculty May 1.

Wyoming U.S. Senator (R) John Barrasso came to Hanna, Elk Mountain, Medicine Bow (HEM) High School to meet with students and faculty of the school at 8:30 a.m. on May 1.

The meeting was held in the HEM gym. where the senator first spoke about the Hathaway Scholarship and how the funding came about. The Hathaway scholarship was created to provide an incentive for Wyoming students to prepare and pursue after high school education within the state of Wyoming.

In 2005, state lawmakers created a scholarship fund with a $400,000,000 permanent endowment. It's residual income funds scholarships for qualified Wyoming high school graduates to attend the University of Wyoming or any of the state's seven community colleges.

"The bottom line, there is nothing like it in the country," Barrasso said.

Barrasso answered questions about renewable energy and said he believed in using all types of energy available.

"No matter how much renewable energy we produce, there is still a gap that has to be filled by oil, gas and coal," he pointed out. Barrasso told the attendees the largest hurdle for renewable energy was storage. He encouraged the students pursue science and be the person who comes up with the best storage unit for energy.

When asked if he disagreed or agreed with gun laws, Barrasso replied he believed in the Constitution, which he said has the underlying gun law, the second amendment, that gives citizens the right to bear arms.

This drew the strongest response with clapping from many in the crowd.

He told the audience he believed in energy independence and said there was enough public land to make it happen. Barrasso also said Europe was at a disadvantage and lessons could be learned with how Russia held countries hostage with their energy resources when the Putin government didn't like policies.

When a question about how to help rural communities came up, Barrasso said they were essential to Wyoming's makeup.

"We have to make sure the schools have all they need and the municipalities have good medical facilities," Barrasso said. "Everyone gets together and discusses what they need with others and this is what politics is all about. This is how funds get distributed, by all wanting a slice of the pie."

Barrasso said he believes the best way to help small towns is to grow the economy and grow the pie so that every place gets a bigger slice.

He said the world is changing and that is why laws have to be amended, to deal with the technology that is reshaping the planet.

Barrasso encouraged students to get involved in politics after he explained how he rose to his position.

"The beauty of Wyoming is we have a citizen legislature," Barrasso said. "We have a lot of people in the legislature that have different backgrounds and this helps solve problems."

He said the Wyoming native is very independent and told a joke he attributed to Wyoming U.S. Senator (R) Mike Enzi to make this point.

"A guy from Wyoming is driving and he never uses his turn signal. So when he is asked why he doesn't use it, the man replies, 'It's nobody's business where I am going'".

After Barrasso finished speaking he posed with members of the crowd and then headed off to his next appointment.


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