2018 WTIC LEGISLATIVE STATUS REPORT (#3)
February 26, 2018

Week 2 at the legislature saw several key deadlines for bills as they continued to move forward. All bills had to advance out of committee in their house of origin by last Thursday and through Committee of the Whole (first reading) by Friday. We are now at the halfway point of the session.  Any bills not making these deadlines will not advance.

A list of all bills considered and their current status can be found here

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/billreference/BillReference.aspx?type=ALL

Key deadlines and dates for this week

The Legislature will not convene for a mid-session recess on Monday, February 26.

February 27 is the last day for second reading in the house of origin.

February 28 is the last day for third reading in the house of origin.

The Biennium Budget was debated last week.  Mirror budget bills were debated simultaneously in the house and the senate.  In the house 113 2nd and 3rd reading budget amendments were considered and in the senate 73 2nd and 3rd reading budget amendments were considered.  This week a conference committee consisting of 5 members of each chamber will meet to negotiate the significant differences between the two chamber’s versions of the budget. The budget bill can be seen here http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/Introduced/HB0001.pdf

Proposed house budget amendments and their status can be seen here http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/BillReference/AmendmentList.aspx?BillNo=HB0001

Proposed senate budget amendments and their status can been found here http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/BillReference/AmendmentList.aspx?BillNo=SF0001

As a number of bills that could impact the hospitality and tourism industry across Wyoming have been working through the process towards becoming law. Your association has been 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 WTIC 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.

Status- The Joint Appropriations Committee cut $2.2 million out of the tourism budget at the start of the session.  The senate amended the $2.2 million back in on a second reading amendment with a 20-10 vote.  In the house the mirror second reading amendment failed on a 30-29 vote. A third reading amendment to restore $2 million was brought forward on 3rd reading and it passed the house 36-24.  A conference committee will meet this week to work out the difference between the senate and house versions.

Special thanks to Representatives David Northrup, Mike Gierau, Pat Sweeney, Jamie Flitner, Don Burkhart, Landon Brown, Albert Sommers, Andy Schwartz and Jerry Paxton for leading the charge on the floor. Many thanks as well to Senators Bruce Burns, Ogden Driskill, Leland Christensen and Chris Rothfuss for their leadership and efforts to restore funding in the senate.  Many other senators and representatives were very helpful- thank you to all of the legislators that voted to restore tourism funding.

**Thank you so very much to every industry member that reached out to the Wyoming House of Representatives this past week urging support to reinstate the tourism funding!  They received MANY emails and it was your efforts that helped us turn 7 votes to get the funding restored in the house.  Again, so many thanks-It is your voice that is the most important!**

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 WTIC 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.  For this session the statewide lodging tax is dead.   

 

Bills we are supporting

HB 22 – Quebec 1 Missile Alert Facility-Fees

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/Introduced/HB0022.pdf

Authorizes the Wyoming Dept. of State Parks and Cultural Resources to develop entrance fees at the Quebec 1 Missle Alert Facility.

Status-Passed second reading in the house.

HJ 8 – 150th Anniversary of  the 1868 Treaty of Fort Bridger

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2018/Introduced/HJ0008.pdf

Celebrates the 150th Anniversary of  the 1868 Treaty of Fort Bridger

Status-Passed second reading in the house

 

Bills that we are monitoring

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

 

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 second reading in the house and was amended to include Grand Teton National Park.

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 second reading in the senate.

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 the senate and will be introduced in the house this week.

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 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 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-Did not make Committee of the Whole (first reading) cutoff deadline.

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 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@wyotravel.org

©2018 WTIC, 1825 Carey Avenue, P.O. Box 1003, Cheyenne, WY 82003.