2018 WTIC LEGISLATIVE STATUS REPORT (#5)
March 12, 2018

The final week of the legislature saw plenty of action as lawmakers worked late through Saturday to wrap up a challenging 2018 budget session. The main budget bill, which funds most state agencies, was passed by roughly two-thirds of lawmakers in the House and Senate after reaching a deal to remove both construction and education cuts from the budget. The idea was that those two topics would then be addressed in separate pieces of legislation. By the time both chambers had agreed to proceed in that manner, there simply was not enough time left to draft and approve the education and construction bills. The legislature will reconvene late Wednesday evening to finish up these last two pieces of business. 

A list of all bills considered and their current status (including amendments) can be found here

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

Interim - The standing legislative committees will each meet at least three times between now and the start of the 2019 Legislative General Session. The Legislative Management Council will meet sometime next month to approve and assign interim topics for each of the committees. The WTIC proposed alternate funding for the Wyoming Office of Tourism and also Tourism Improvement Districts as possible interim topics. Related topics of interest will be reported on as soon as the committee has agreed and assigned them. Your association will be closely engaged in the interim. 

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. The conference committee agreed to put $2 million back into the Wyoming Office of Tourism biennium budget.

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 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 the house and senate. Awaiting Governor Mead’s signature..

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 the house and senate. Awaiting Governor Mead’s signature.  

 

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 the house and senate. Awaiting Governor Mead’s signature.

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 the house and senate. Awaiting Governor Mead’s signature.

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 the house and senate. Awaiting Governor Mead’s signature.

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 house and senate. Awaiting Governor Mead’s signature.

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 proceeds 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.

 

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.