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WTIC February 2018 Legislative Update

 

On Monday, February 12, 2018 the 64th Wyoming Legislature will convene for the 2018 budget session.  The session will begin with Governor Matt Mead’s final state of the state at 10:00 am.  In Wyoming the budget session runs for twenty working days and will finish on Friday, March 9, 2018.  Currently 132 bills and resolutions are listed and all bills will need to pass a 2/3 vote in their house of origin in order to be considered for the session.  We expect a total of between 250-330 bills for the budget session. 

 

Wyoming Office of Tourism Budget

The Wyoming Office of Tourism biennium budget currently ranks 31st in the nation for funding and has been reduced significantly over the past several years.  Our position this session is to hold the tourism budget at the Joint Appropriations Committee recommendation and to defend against any further cuts.

 

Local Option Lodging Tax

The Local Option Lodging tax plays a critical role in maximizing the visitor economy and driving traffic locally.  There are likely to be several bills seeking to divert funding from promotion to other special interests this session.  While no bills are currently posted, we expect them to be considered and are strongly against any chance to the local option lodging tax.

Alternate Funding for the Wyoming Office of Tourism

Unfortunately the 1% Leisure and Hospitality Tax bill that we have been working on for the past year + did not make it out of the last Joint Revenue Committee interim meeting.  The bill failed on a 6-6 vote.  This was not a total surprise to us. A strong anti-tax sentiment has been clearly evident throughout the interim, particularly in the Senate and there simply wasn’t enough of an appetite to proceed.  I do not consider this the end of the discussion and made it clear at the meeting that we remain committed to our place at the table in seeking a long range, dedicated funding source for the Wyoming Office of Tourism.  

We do however believe that there is an opportunity for the industry and the legislature to continue working on a collaborative solution for tourism funding.  There has been significant discussion about a Statewide Lodging Tax to fund tourism and other areas of deficit but we do not believe there is enough time between now and the start of the session to address the complexities and potential consequences of a Statewide Lodging Tax.  We strongly oppose any Statewide Lodging Tax proposal for this session, instead preferring to sit down with the legislature during the interim (after the session) to continue to work together on a solution that represents a collaborative approach that considers comprehensive industry input.

Unemployment for Seasonal Workers

The legislature will consider two bills that would eliminate or reduce unemployment for some seasonal workers.  We are seeking input from our membership on how these might impact your business.  The two bills can be found below

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

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

 

There will be many more bills considered that could have an impact on Wyoming’s hospitality and tourism industry.  Starting Monday, February 12, 2018 please watch for the WTIC weekly legislative update.  As well, please keep a close eye out for any “Calls to Action.”  Your voice is the most important when we are trying to influence decisions that could have significant impact on your business.  Calls to action typically have a very quick turnaround and they are always written to facilitate easy outreach for our membership.  We appreciate your participation and look forward to a successful 2018 budget session. 

If you have any questions about these or any other legislative issues please reach out to WTIC Executive Director Chris Brown at chris@wyotravel.org

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