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CHEYENNE — The Wyoming Senate voted Wednesday to confirm two of Gov. Matt Mead’s appointments to the Wyoming Public Service Commission.

First it voted to reconsider Tuesday’s rejection of appointees Kara Brighton and William Russell to fill two vacancies on the three-member Public Service Commission. The motion to reconsider was made by Senate Majority Leader Phil Nicholas, R-Laramie.

On the second vote, the Senate approved Russell 26-4 and Brighton 23-5. The appointments are for six years each. Sen. Bruce Burns, R-Sheridan, said the commission members are paid salaries of more than $100,000 per year.

On Tuesday, Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, led opposition to the nominations on grounds the commission needs diversity in its members. Russell and Brighton are attorneys.

Since 2005 only lawyers have been appointed to the commission, Case said. He also said neither Russell nor Brighton is qualified for the job.

On Wednesday, Case again voted against the two nominees. He said his opposition wasn’t personal. The commission is at an important juncture with electricity markets and needs people with technical expertise to deal with related issues, he said.

“You need a lawyer on the commission, but you don’t need three of them,” Case said Wednesday after the vote.

The third commission member, Alan Minier, is also a lawyer.

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Mead appointed Russell to the commission in October and Brighton in early February.

Mead said in a statement Wednesday he had constructive conversations with members of the Senate on Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning.

“I provided them with the information they needed, and I appreciate the Senate’s reconsideration and confidence in the two appointees to the Public Service Commission,” the governor said.

“Bill and Kara have distinguished themselves throughout their careers, are highly respected by their peers, colleagues and in their communities.

“They are well qualified for these appointments, and they have my full confidence,” Mead said.

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Contact capital bureau reporter Joan Barron at 307-632-1244 or joan.barron@trib.com

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