2017 WTIC LEGISLATIVE STATUS REPORT #9

The 64th Wyoming Legislature convened at noon on January 9, 2017 and ran late before adjourning on Friday, March 3, 2017. 485 total bills and resolutions were submitted by committees and individual legislators for the 2017 general session- they can be found here http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2017/billreference/BillReference.aspx?type=ALL

The Travel Industry Coalition had a successful session with 3/4 of our priorities passing and becoming law. State Parks Sites and Fees, Local Option Sales and Use taxes and Quebec 1 Transfer all passed. Unfortunately, the Film Industry Financial Incentive did not pass. Your association played a lead role in defeating a handful of proposed legislation that would have been harmful to Wyoming’s hospitality and tourism industry as well, see the bills that have died section below. Thank you very much to all WTIC members that participated and weighed in on what was important to your business and your community. We would also like to extend a sincere thank you to those of you that answered our calls to action. Your outreach played a major role in advancing our legislative priorities. The interim between now and the 2018 Legislative Budget Session will be a busy one. The legislature still has to balance a $400 million budget deficit with education funding. The current session generated very little new revenue and cuts alone cannot resolve the deficit. Proposed new revenue sources will be part of the interim discussion and this is likely to include discussions surrounding various taxes. Please remember that your voice is the most important one as it relates to proposed legislation and the positions that the WTIC takes.

Priorities

Support-Wyoming Office of Tourism Biennium Budget
The budget bill (HB-1/ SF-1) was heard on both floors simultaneously over the past few weeks. The WTIC helped defeat 3 proposed cuts to tourism funding. The conference committee assigned to working out the differences between the senate and house versions of the bill met last week and agreed to a budget. There were no further cuts to tourism. 

Support- HB 30-State Parks Sites and Fees
Allows the Wyoming Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources to adjust pricing on entrance fees and permits as defined. Status- passed House and Senate. Governor has signed.

Support- HB 82 Local Option Sales and Use Taxes
Would allow local option sales and use taxes to be voted on for increase during a non-renewal year without the threat of losing the tax entirely. Local option sales and use taxes would still be all or nothing voting on renewal year. Status-passed house and senate. Governor Mead has signed.

Support- HB 195 Quebec 1 Transfer
Authorizes transfer of Quebec 1 facility to state. Status- passed house and senate. Governor Mead has signed.

Bills That Have Died

HB 49 Mountain Daylight Savings Time  
Would place Wyoming into the central time zone for the entire year. Status-failed in House Minerals Committee.

HB 66 Yellowstone License Plates
Would authorize a Yellowstone National Park license plate. Status- failed first reading in House.

HB 85 Unemployment Compensation-Delinquent Employers
Would allow delinquent employers to enter into an installment plan for up to 12 months when warranted. Status- awaiting hearing in House Labor Committee.

HB 102 Lodging Tax Rate
Would allow additional 2% local option lodging tax earmarked for tourism related infrastructure. Would allow shifting of lodging tax to be used for up to 4% for infrastructure or up to 4% for promotion with a total of no more than 6% tax imposed. Status- Failed in House Revenue Committee-lack of a second motion.

HB 140 Minimum Wage
Bill was amended to raise Wyoming’s non-tipped minimum wage to the federal level of $7.25/hr. Status- died on House floor.

HB 141 Daylight Savings Time Exemption
Would exempt Wyoming from daylight savings time. Status-introduced and awaiting hearing with House Minerals Committee.

HB 149 Lodging Tax Distribution 
Would split local option lodging tax collections from the current 90/10 for local promotion to 50/50 promotion with half going to local government. Status- failed in House Revenue Committee 8-1.

HB 187 Total Solar Eclipse Day
Provides funding for support services during solar eclipse in August 2017. Status-did not consider for First Reading.

HB 234 Airport
Would adjust the lodging tax split of 60/30/10 in applicable county to be 10/50 (for airport funding) 30/10. Status- never heard in House Revenue Committee.

HB 269 Prohibited Question on Job Applications
Bill would prohibit employers from asking about applicant’s criminal history on job applications. Status-never assigned to committee.

HB 290- State Lodging Tax
Would create a 1% statewide lodging tax with 100% collections going to Game and Fish. Status- was never heard in House Revenue Committee.

SF 24 Film Industry Financial Incentive Program
Extends the sunset date for the Wyoming Office of Tourism’s Film Industry Financial Incentive Program.
Status - The bill died on the house floor when it was not heard in Committee of the Whole by the deadline.

Bills We Are Monitoring

HB 32 Ski Safety Act 
Imposes duties on ski areas and skiers. Establishes an assumption of risk for skiers and provides for a release of liability for ski areas as defined.
Status- passed house and senate. Awaiting Governor Mead’s signature..

HB 71 Unemployment Insurance-electronic communications
Would allow Unemployment Insurance notifications to be delivered electronically through email as specified. Status- passed House and passed the Senate. Governor Mead has signed.

HB 84 Workers compensation-delinquent employers
Would allow delinquent employers to enter into an installment plan for up to 12 months when warranted. Status- passed house and passed the senate. Governor Mead has signed.

Support- SF 94 Franchise Business Relationships
The bill would define a franchisee's employee as their own and not the employee of the franchisor and would protect franchisor's from unwarranted lawsuits, etc. It helps protect the franchise model of business. Status-passed the senate and house. Awaiting Governor Mead’s signature.

HB 114 Service and Assistance Animals 
Establishes a penalty for those falsely impersonating a Service Animal in a business. Status-passed house and senate. Governor Mead has signed.

Thank you again, so very much for participating in the 2017 Wyoming Legislative General Session. We hope that you found the weekly legislative updates informative. These updates are for you and we are always open to suggestions and comments that will keep legislative updates beneficial to our membership. If you have any comments or suggestions please contact Chris Brown at chris@wyotravel.org.

©2016 WTIC, 1825 Carey Avenue, P.O. Box 1003, Cheyenne, WY 82003.