2016 WLRA LEGISLATIVE STATUS REPORT #1
The 2016 Budget Session convened today with the Joint Session of the Wyoming Legislature and the Governor’s State of the State address. The budget session will last 20 working days and will end on March 4, 2016.
The primary focus of the legislature will be the state’s biennium budget. With our state facing a biennium shortfall in the hundreds of millions due to the current economic downturn in the energy industry, this session is going to be challenging, as legislators will be faced with the difficulty of balancing the biennium budget for the next two years.
All bills will need a 2/3 vote in their house of origin in order to be introduced. Bills in the House will need 40/60 votes for introduction and bills in the Senate will need 20/30 votes for introduction. There are 143 bills currently listed on the Legislative Services Office website currently with more likely to be added in the coming days. You can find all of the bills for this session listed HERE
Please watch closely for legislative alerts and calls to action throughout the next month. The legislature moves quickly and timely grassroots outreach from our membership makes the difference in advancing our priorities.
The following list is comprised of the bills currently listed, related to the hospitality and tourism industry in Wyoming. This list will be updated weekly. Please watch the WLRA legislative update every Monday for additions and up-to-date information on the legislative priorities.
BILLS WLRA IS SUPPORTING
2017-2018 Biennium Budget
The 2017-2018 biennium budget is being finalized by the Joint Appropriations Committee (JAC) and is awaiting introduction. The budget bill(s) will be debated on both the senate and house floors simultaneously. Each version will then be sent to the opposite chamber for concurrence. If the house and the senate do not concur, then the line items that the two chambers differ on will be individually determined in conference committee to find agreeable compromises. Once agreed upon by both chambers, the budget will go to the Governor for his approval. Status - awaiting introduction.
Wyoming Office of Tourism Funding - The Joint Appropriations Committee has recommended $4.4 million to deepen and build upon existing markets like Seattle, Kansas City, Portland OR, Chicago, etc. JAC has also recommended $2 million for Wyoming to expand our international visibility through research and cooperative opportunities with Brand USA. Additionally, the Film Industry Financial Incentive has been extended by 2 years through a budget amendment. The WLRA supports the JAC recommendation for the Wyoming Office of Tourism biennium budget.
Medicaid Expansion - The list of industries and associations supporting the expansion of Medicaid continues to grow as Wyoming grapples with significant budget shortfalls, uncompensated care at hospitals and an uninsured population that would benefit, near 20,000. Medicaid Expansion was proposed in Governor Mead’s recommended budget for the Wyoming Dept. of health but the JAC removed it. Whether expansion is revisited through a budget amendment or an individual bill remains to be seen. Either way it will be an uphill battle to get it passed this session. The WLRA supports expansion and will continue to monitor this as it develops.
SF 8: Bicycle and Pedestrian System Task Force - Bill would allow the creation of a task force to study the potential tourism and safety benefits of expanding Wyoming’s bicycle and pedestrian pathways.
Status - awaiting introduction.
BILLS WLRA IS OPPOSING
HB 4: Minimum Wage - Bill would raise Wyoming’s minimum wage to $9.50/hr. and tipped minimum wage to $5.50/hr. This would make Wyoming the 8th highest minimum wage in the nation. Status - awaiting introduction.
HB 5: Prohibited Question on Job Applications - Bill would prohibit employers from asking about past criminal convictions on job applications. Status - awaiting introduction.
BILLS WLRA IS MONITORING
Enhanced Airline Funding - Governor Mead recommended enhanced airline funding at the same levels as the previous biennium. He also allowed flexibility to the Dept. of Transportation to move funding between the programs as needed during the biennium.
SF 13: Severance Tax Distributions - Bill would divert a percentage of severance tax from going into savings to instead be used for general funding until 2022. Status - awaiting introduction.
Click here 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, visit the Legislative website at http://legisweb.state.wy.us
During the legislative session, you can recommend support for or opposition to a particular piece of legislation by using the Online Hotline. In addition to expressing support for or opposition to an identified bill, you can also leave a short comment regarding the bill. Comments are limited to 140 characters. The Online Hotline can be fount at: http://legisweb.state.wy.us/postcomments/onlinehotline.aspx.
If you have any questions, please contact Chris Brown at 307-634-8816 x 207 or email@example.com.