Final WTIC LEGISLATIVE SESSION UPDATE
March 05, 2019

 

The 2019 Wyoming Legislative General Session came to a close in the wee hours of last Thursday morning with the legislature adjourning Sine Die around 2:00 am.

Your association was engaged every single day of the session and our efforts focused on protecting and enhancing the tourism and hospitality industry in Wyoming.

Our primary goal heading into this session was HB 66-Lodging Tax. For more than 2 years the WTIC board of directors in collaboration with the WLRA board and Wyoming Tourism Board have been working on an alternative funding model to get Wyoming’s statewide marketing program off of the state’s general fund and onto a more dedicated, stable funding stream. While a statewide lodging tax was not our first choice there was significant drive within the legislature last session to pass one. The boards met this past spring and decided that a 3% statewide lodging tax would generate about $19 million annually, placing Wyoming on significantly more competitive footing with our competing neighboring states. The bill also had a 2% guarantee back to local option lodging tax boards to act as a safety net the next time the local tax went before the voters. While the bill was not perfect, it was better than the status quo associated with being on the state’s general fund. Despite tireless effort from so many of you and despite the support of leadership in the legislature, after passing the Wyoming House of Representatives fairly easily, the bill was met with some unfortunate opposition in the senate, ultimately killing the effort. The WTIC board of directors will meet later this spring to discuss the path forward.

Our efforts to pass legislation to allow the creation of Tourism Improvement Districts also fell short unfortunately. We have presented this concept to the Joint Revenue Committee for consideration as an interim topic and are hopeful they will take the topic up this interim.

The interim period between now and the start of the 2020 Wyoming Legislative Budget session are sure to have topics impactful to our industry and your association will be engaged every step of the way. Please watch for the monthly WTIC e-newsletter for the latest information.


Bills we supported that passed


Governor’s recommended supplemental budget request of $2.5 million for the Wyoming Office of Tourism.


Wyoming’s marketing program currently ranks 29th in the nation, well below most of our competing surrounding states. This funding is a stopgap that will aid in elevating marketing resources and driving more visitor traffic to Wyoming until an alternative funding source is passed. Status-Joint Appropriations Committee denied the $2.5 million request and approved adding $500,000 per year to the budget. There were no other tourism related amendments that passed
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0001

HB 99-Public Lands Day
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0099
Would create a Public Lands Day state holiday.
Status-Passed the house and senate. Signed by Governor Gordon.

SJ 3-Wyoming Women’s Suffrage Day
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/SJ0003
Commemorates the 150th anniversary of Wyoming Women’s Suffrage.
Status-Passed the house and senate. Signed by Governor Gordon.


Bills we monitored that passed

HB 71-Equal Pay Penalties
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0071
Would amend penalties for equal pay provisions.
Status-Passed the house and senate. Signed by Governor Gordon.


Bills that died

HB 14 Mountain Daylight Time https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0014
Bill eliminates daylight savings time and would put Wyoming in a different time zone than our neighboring states for a significant period of time each year. The bill would not go into effect until three adjoining states agreed to do the same.

HB 64-Indexing Fuel Taxes
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0064
Would index Wyoming’s fuel tax to the Consumer Price Index (CPI)

HB 66- Lodging Tax https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0066
Creates a 5% statewide lodging tax as an alternative-funding source for growing the visitor economy through the Wyoming Office of Tourism. 3% would be dedicated to funding the Wyoming Office of Tourism. The other 2% would replace 2% of local option lodging taxes across Wyoming eliminating the need to vote on them every four years. Local option lodging tax boards will still have the ability to vote on up to an additional 2% every four years. Your association has been working on the alternative funding initiative for more than 2 years and is supporting this bill as long as the funding derived from the tax remains dedicated to funding tourism at a significantly more competitive level with our surrounding states.

HB 67-Sales Tax Revisions
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0067
Would remove the sales tax exemption on home-prepared foods, data centers and manufacturing. The bill would reduce the state sales tax to 3.5% and would create a tax on most services.

HB 72- Wage Transparency
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0072
Would prohibit employers from barring employees from disclosing wage information and would prohibit employers from requiring employees to waive wage disclosure rights.

HB 93-Tourism Improvement Districts https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0093
A tourism improvement district, or TID, is a mechanism for funding local tourism promotion activities. An assessment is placed on tourism businesses within a designated geographic area and the funds raised through the assessment are used for specific tourism marketing purposes. The bill will be written as enabling legislation, meaning that it allows for the conversation about Tourism Improvement Districts in your communities but it does not create or mandate anyone to utilize a TID.

HB 164- Wyoming Film Production Incentive
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0164
The Wyoming Film Production Incentive would allow the Wyoming Office of Tourism (WOT) to offer incentives to film companies that shoot in and feature Wyoming in their productions. The bill has no appropriation attached and is enabling legislation to give the WOT an additional tool in the event that an opportunity presents itself.

HB 259 Tourism Funding
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0259
Would change the 60/30/10 local option lodging tax split to 60/20/20 and lowered the threshold to $500,000.

HB 273- Minimum Wage
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0273
Would increase the state minimum wage to $8.50/hr and increase it to $10.00 over a 5-year period.

SF 48- Unemployment Compensation-Seasonal Employees
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/SF0048
Would define unemployment benefits for seasonal employees

SF 101- Wage Offset for Employee Theft
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/SF0101
Would allow businesses to withhold earnings from an employee that has been found guilty of theft from their employer.

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