2018 WLRA LEGISLATIVE STATUS REPORT (#2)
February 20, 2018

 

The 2018 budget session kicked off last Monday and will run for 20 working days until Friday, March 9, 2018. There were a total of 336 bills and resolutions introduced.  Many did not make the 2/3 vote needed in their house of origin for introduction and some were not even considered. A complete list of all of the bills listed for this session can be found here http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/billreference/BillReference.aspx?type=ALL

The Biennium Budget will be debated this week.  Mirror budget bills will be debated simultaneously in the house and the senate.  Any differences that are not concurred on in each chamber will be sent to a conference committee assigned by leadership in both chambers to work out the differences.  The budget bill can be seen here http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/Introduced/HB0001.pdf

As a number of bills that could impact the hospitality and tourism industry across Wyoming have been introduced and are working through the process towards becoming law. Your association will be very closely monitoring these and we are engaging as necessary.

The following list is comprised of the bills currently listed, related to hospitality and tourism in Wyoming. This list will be updated weekly.  Please watch for the WLRA legislative update every Monday for additions and up to date information on our legislative priorities and please keep a close eye out for any “Calls to Action” as needed.

To listen live to the action happening at the 2018 legislature please click here http://wyoleg.gov/lsoweb/AudioStream.aspx

 

Wyoming Office of Tourism Biennium Budget

The Joint Appropriations Committee is recommending the Wyoming Office of Tourism (WOT) biennium budget at approximately $12.5 million per year or $25 million for the biennium.  The committee upheld cuts that the Governor requested the WOT to make earlier in the year of about $200,000.  Additionally the committee earmarked approximately $200,000 to promote southwest Wyoming.  Wyoming currently ranks 31st in the nation for tourism funding. **Please keep a close eye out for updates and calls to action while the biennium budget is debated this week**

Status- The JAC proposed an additional $2 million cut to the WOT budget which the Joint Appropriations Committee supported.  We will be working to have this funding reinstated this week.

 

Statewide Lodging Tax

The industry recommended 1% leisure and hospitality tax that had been proposed this interim to provide a dedicated funding source for the Wyoming Office of Tourism was defeated in the final Joint Revenue Committee meeting last month on a 6-6 vote.  Leadership from both chambers has been pursuing a statewide lodging tax to fund tourism and get the agency off of the states general fund.  Last week two more different statewide lodging tax bills were drafted and considered by the Management Council.  The final bill (see HB 174-Statewide Lodging Tax below) would have created a 4% statewide lodging tax with 2% of it going towards state tourism funding.  The other 2% would have gone back to local option lodging tax boards to be used for local promotion as normal.  The bill would have then limit the amount of local option lodging tax to be voted on locally at 2% so that counties or municipalities still had the option of having up to 4% for local option lodging taxes. 

Even though the WLRA has historically opposed a statewide lodging tax we worked diligently and tirelessly last week with industry, legislative leadership and the governor to see if common ground could be found.  With so little time to hear industry questions and concerns coupled with wide ranging views among industry for the proposal, we were not able to support the bill and it was never introduced by Friday’s deadline.  We have heard chatter that leadership is exploring adding a statewide lodging tax as a budget footnote but we have also heard doubt related to the constitutionality of doing so- stay tuned for any updates but for now the statewide lodging tax is dead. 

 

Bills that we are monitoring

(please email chris@wlra.org with any feedback about bills that we are monitoring)

 

HB 49-Unemployment Compensation Exemption-Seasonal Employees

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/Introduced/HB0049.pdf

Would exempt employers that utilize seasonal employees working less than 21 consecutive weeks in a 12-month period from unemployment.

Status-Passed introduction and will be heard in House Labor Committee.

 

HB 90- Country of Origin Recognition- USA Beef

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/Introduced/HB0090.pdf

Would require conspicuous placards displayed by all beef being sold to the public, noting its country of origin.

Status-Passed introduction and will be heard in House Agriculture Committee.

 

HJ 5- Yellowstone Wildlife Conservation Fee

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/Introduced/HJ0005.pdf

A JOINT RESOLUTION to the United States Secretary of the Interior and the Director of the National Park Service relating to the imposition of a wildlife conservation fee at Yellowstone National Park.

Status-Passed introduction and will be heard in House Travel Committee.

 

SF 40- Commercial Air Service Improvement

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/Introduced/SF0040.pdf

Establishes the Wyoming Commercial Air Service Improvement Act and creates the Wyoming commercial air service improvement council and tasks them to come up with a 10 year plan to strengthen Wyoming commercial air service.

Status-Passed Senate Minerals Committee and awaits first reading on the senate floor.

 

SF 45- State Fair Board-2

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/Introduced/SF0045.pdf

Relates to the Wyoming State Fair and its operations.  Requires the Wyoming Office of Tourism to market the state fair.

Status-Passed Senate Agriculture Committee and awaits first reading on the senate floor.

 

SF 58 – Game and Fish Licenses

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/Introduced/SF0058.pdf

Would change the date a hunting or fishing license expires from a calendar year and would allow the Game and Fish Commission to promulgate rules defining the date that licenses would expire.

Status-Passed first reading in the senate.

 

Bills that have died

HB 37 – Yellowstone License Plates

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/Introduced/HB0037.pdf

Allows the creation of a limited offer Yellowstone License Plate with procees going towards rest area maintenance and creation.

Status- Failed introduction vote

 

HB 44 Alcoholic Liquors Markup Amount

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/Introduced/HB0044.pdf

Would raise the mark up on wholesale liquor purchases for businesses buying from the Wyoming Liquor Division from 17.3% to 20.3%

Status- Failed introduction vote.

 

HB 45- Mountain Daylight Savings Time

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/Introduced/HB0045.pdf

Would place Wyoming on standard central time, eliminate daylight savings time (spring forward and fall back) and creating a new time zone called mountain daylight savings time

Status- Failed introduction vote.

 

HB 51- Reporting of Gross Receipts

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/Introduced/HB0051.pdf

Would require businesses in Wyoming to report their gross receipts on their annual filings to the Secretary of State’s office so that the state could gather data about gross receipts in Wyoming to possibly be used later when considering a gross receipts tax.

Status- Not considered for introduction.

 

HB 68- Unemployment Compensation-Seasonal Employment

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/Introduced/HB0068.pdf

Provides exemption for employers utilizing season employees working 21 consecutive weeks or less in a 12-month period from unemployment.

Status- Not considered for introduction.


HB 128- Food Trucks

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/Introduced/HB0128.pdf

Provides for the regulation, licensing and rulemaking related to food trucks in Wyoming.

Status- Failed introduction vote.

 

HB 149-Lodging Tax-Repeal of Transient Exemption Requirement

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/Introduced/HB0149.pdf

Would have removed the 30 day exemption when paying local option lodging taxes.

Status- Failed introduction vote

 

HB 171- Minimum Wage

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/Introduced/HB0171.pdf

Would have raised Wyoming’s minimum hourly wage to $9.50/hr and tipped minimum wage to $5.50/hr

Status- Not considered for introduction.

 

HB 174- Statewide Lodging Tax

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/Introduced/HB0174.pdf

Would have created a 4% statewide lodging tax with half funding the Wyoming Office of Tourism and half being distributed back to local governments.

Status- Not considered for introduction.

 

Click here http://wyoleg.gov/LSOWEB/LegInfo.aspx for a list of all legislators’ emails, which is their preferred method of contact.

During the session you can contact a legislator to leave a message by calling the Senate receptionist at 307-777-7711 or the House receptionist at 307-777-7852.

To check on committee schedules, view bills, listen to live broadcasts of the legislative session or find out how individual legislators vote, log on to the Legislative website at http://legisweb.state.wy.us

You can also comment on bills online by visiting http://legisweb.state.wy.us/postcomments/onlinehotline.aspx.

If you have any questions, please contact Chris Brown at 307-634-8816 x 207 or chris@wlra.org