- Associated Press - Thursday, January 19, 2017

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - A state judge has dismissed a lawsuit contesting how a $300 million project to renovate the Wyoming Capitol is being managed, but one of the people who sued said the decision will be appealed.

In dismissing the lawsuit filed last year by former state Rep. Gerald Gay, of Casper, and Karl Allred, of Evanston, Laramie County District Judge Catherine Rogers sided in her ruling last week with attorneys for the state who contended the two men lacked standing to sue over the matter.

Gay and Allred argued that Gov. Matt Mead and top state lawmakers violated the state constitution by issuing contracts without competitive bids.

Gay said in a telephone interview Thursday that as a resident and taxpayer he should be able to challenge in court what he sees as violations of the constitution by government officials.

“If we don’t, then who does?” he said.

Mead has said that state attorneys have determined the state has followed the law in contracting for the project.

Attorney General Peter Michael, who is named as a defendant in the lawsuit, declined comment Thursday.

Current legislative leaders welcomed the decision.

“With this ruling, we move one step closer to the Capitol Square Project’s successful completion with one less frivolous distraction,” Senate President Eli Bebout said in a statement.

Gay and Allred contend in their lawsuit that the state has violated state constitutional requirements for competitive bidding on the Capitol restoration project. For instance, the lawsuit says the state should have sought competitive bids for office space to house the Legislature and other state offices during the renovation project.

The Capitol Building Restoration Oversight Group, a panel that includes senior lawmakers as well as Mead, was formed at the outset to oversee the restoration project. Officials have said that the process has been competitive, noting that a number of companies were interviewed before a construction manager for the project was hired.

Separately, another lawsuit involving the restoration project is still pending in the state court. State Treasurer Mark Gordon contends that the state constitution requires him to sign off on Capitol contracts but the state law that established the legislative oversight panel left him out of the process.

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