LEGISLATIVE UPDATE FEB 20, 2019
Here are updates on bills directly affecting our party or relating to Party platform planks that were given high priority for this legislative session - abortion law, taxes new or increased, or laws creating and/or expanding special protections for select groups of people.
Bills change quickly – check daily on those you’re following and directly contact your District Legislators and/or the bill’s sponsors with questions or concerns.
Purpose: Limit ‘party raiding’ by non-party members. Party nominations for representative candidates is currently done on the primary ballot. The intent of the ‘raiding’ action is for one party to dominate the candidate nominating process of an opposing party.
Tues Feb 19th Bill was heard in Senate AG Committee yesterday evening. The bill passed with amendments.
Thu Feb 7th Bill was received for introduction in the Senate.
Wed Feb 6th Bill passed 3rd reading in the House, amended.
Scheduled hearings: None
Current law allows a voter to change parties 14 or more days before the Primary Election (on/before Aug 7th), or on request of a of an absentee ballot (in 2018 between Jul 1st & Aug 20th) or at the polls the day of an election, either primary or general.
The most recent raiding action, in the 2018 primary election cycle, resulted in an estimated 13,000 voters filing party switches in the last few weeks before the primary, affecting both state and local Rep v Dem races. Activist groups encouraged Democrats to switch to Republican to drive the primary ends. Unless addressed the party nomination by ballot process no longer allows the parties to select their own candidates.
Status of related bills:
The first version of the bill discouraged cross-over voting by requiring a voter to apply to switch parties by May 1st to vote in a primary (Aug 21st) and by 30 days before a general election (Oct 8th).
Amendments prior to 2/19 Committee hearing did away with the bill’s goal:
- pg 3. 22-5-214(a) says an elector may change party affiliation 14 days before a primary (about Aug 7th if election’s on the 21st) or at the polls the day of the primary or the general election or when requesting an absentee ballot. In other words, the current law was amended back in.
- Pg 3. 22-5-214(b) says an elector may change party “from one major political party to another major political party” 14 days before the primary or at the polls the day of the general election.
The purpose of the last amendment isn’t clear, but the effect is to make it easier for anyone who switched to raid in the primary to switch back at the poll on general election day.
In addition, one amendment, pg 2. 22-1-102(a)(xxiii)(F)(IV), seems to remove record keeping of primary election party switches.
Purpose: Limit ‘party raiding’ by non-party members. See HB0106 update (above).
Wed Feb 13th - referred to House Corporations Committee H07
Thur Feb 7th - amended bill received for introduction in the House.
Tues Feb 5th - bill passed 3rd reading in the Senate, amended.
Scheduled hearings: None announced
Background: See HB0106 update (above).
Status of related bills: This bill affects the same sections of law as HB106 but is significantly different.
- A voter would have to change party affiliation at least two weeks before the day absentee ballots come out, e.g. in 2018 before June 22nd. See pg. 3 ln 14-18.
- Most importantly, that party switch could happen only if the state party chairman made the request of the secretary of state to authorize party switching to that chairman’s party.
- As in HB0106, an amendment on pg 2. Ln 10 seems to remove record keeping of primary election party switches.
Purpose: to establish additional requirements for abortion reporting; provide for a public report of abortion statistics, and; authorize the board of medicine to investigate and discipline specified conduct.
Thu Feb 7th – Bill intro’d in Senate; assigned to Sen. Labor, Health & Soc Svcs
Wed Feb 6th - This bill passed 3rd reading in the House, amended.
Scheduled hearings: Wed Fri Feb 20, at 8:00 am. Sen Labor Committee (Rm S27)
Although abortions are performed in Wyoming, actual records of procedures and health outcomes for mother and child are not reported or not reported with the same rigorous attention to detail as other medical procedures. A sponsor of the bill, has noted that collection of this data will support good policy. This bill passed the House and is now in the Senate. Read the amended bill and contact your District Legislators or the bill sponsors with concerns or questions.
Status of related bills: HB0302 Abortion-penalty for failure to inform. Was not introduced in the House.
Purpose: Impose a new 7% corporate tax on a select group of businesses.
Tues Feb 19th Bill was heard in Senate Corporation Committee. Bill was not moved in Committee.
Thu Feb 7th. Amended bill introduced in Senate; sent to Senate Corporation Committee
Scheduled hearings: None
HB0220 proposes a 7% sales tax on the income of corporate retail, food services and accommodation vendors with 100 or more shareholders (C-Corp’s). This tax rate is slightly below the national average rate of 7.12%.
Arguments made in favor of the bill and some rebuttals being made:
- “that’s our money”, and other states are collecting taxes on the income made in Wyoming. A state can’t collect tax on the full income of a multi-state company, so they’ll figure out the proportion of total income from that state. These ‘throwback rules’ are meant to avoid double taxing.
- “It’s not a new tax”. Again, the argument appears to be that it’s a tax being collected in other states, so not ‘new’. But the 1st sentence of the bill says it’s “creating the National Retail Fairness act; imposing an income tax on businesses…:
- “out-of-staters will pay it”. As this bill would affect businesses like WalMart, Albertson’s and Safeway, its difficult to see how the tax would not affect “in-staters” too.
- This tax would boost our revenue, and bring in an estimated $45 million, A couple of arguments against the bill are that the estimated cost of administering this new tax, over $15 million, brings the high end of potential income to $30 million. And when the state is facing expenses income by about $700 million or more, the $30 million in potential income seems like a risky gamble.
- Other states are doing it. While many states do have corporate income tax as one leg of a 3-legged revenue stool (personal income tax, sales tax and corporate tax) have found that the corporate income tax is the least effective, bringing in only 4.8% of the tax revenue stream compared to 37.1% from personal income tax and 31.7% from sales tax.
- Companies won’t be impacted A company with a 2-5% profit margin, common among many, would look at the overall cost of business and manpower challenges in Wyoming and resist coming here, or worse, decide to leave the state, bringing the hoped-for tax revenue down significantly and quickly.
- No, this isn’t a pathway to personal income tax. This bill has also been seen as the ‘camel with its nose under the tent’ for wide-spread income tax. The chapter of law this bill would add to, W.S 39-12, currently has only one subsection which gives the state sole authority to tax in Wyoming. In other words, this bill opens a big tax door. The bill, if passed offers a readily amendable statute to expand income taxing to other business classes and to individuals.
- This is a conservative approach to bringing money in. This is conservative, in scope by taxing only a small and select out-of-state group of companies, and modest in terms of estimated income, only $45 million - on the high end.
- We have to do something to increase our state revenues. Many would agree, and there is considerable enthusiasm of the bill’s 21 legislator cosponsors. It would be reasonable to look at that support and the purpose, increasing revenues through taxes, and the implementation costs, 1/3 of the hoped-for income, and speculate that there is a backburner plan to bring in additional income tax bills. Another approach would be to cut spending.
Status of related bills: While a number of taxation bills were proposed this session, none appear to have the same intent as this one, to date.