- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - The Wyoming Senate has given preliminary approval to a bill that targets a state agency that advocates for the interests of the public when utilities seek rate hikes.

The Senate voted 15-to-14 on Thursday in favor of the bill. It would need two more votes in the Senate before heading to the House.

The bill would move the sunset date for the state Office of Consumer Advocate from 2023 to 2017. The office is funded by utilities and represents the public in utility rate cases.

Sponsor Sen. Eli Bebout, a Riverton Republican, says the bill would give the office staff a chance to prove the office should continue.

Representatives of several utilities testified this week against the bill at a committee hearing, saying the office staff serves the public interest.

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