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February 25, 2019

Legislative update – current 5:30 am Mon Feb 25, 2019

HouseThe House floor schedule for today is a long list of 33 bills, many sponsored by Senate leaders and the Appropriation Committee, to be in 2ndreading, 2nd reading accelerated to 3rd reading, 3rd reading consent list, and 3rdreading. 

The House had a very unusual session on Friday:

  • the General File was heard first

  • a number of 2nd and 3rd readings were put back to today (Mon Feb 25th)

  • the hearing on each General File bill was unusually long for this session. 

  • the House recessed ‘early’ given the number of bills to be considered.

  • Friday was the last scheduled day for 2nd readings in the second chamber, and Monday was to be the last day for 3rd readings.

House actions on Friday required adjustment of the schedule through rule changes and/or suspensions. This now delays joint conference committee work with the Senate, required to resolve differences in bill specifics.

Outcomes of the House actions include:

  • 2nd and 3rd readings on any one bill, which are typically on different days, will now be held in the House on the same day, as per House Rule 7-7.

  • days may be added to the session - up to 5 days could be put back in the schedule, as noted on the session calendar (see calendar footnote).

  • Other House and Senate rules may be suspended to adjust for this delay.

Senate – the Senate floor schedule includes several hearings worth your attention.

HB066 Lodging tax is in THIRD READING TODAY. This bill sets a 5% sales tax STATEWIDE on lodging services. “Lodging services” will include camp and RV sites provided by outfitters and guides, those at county or state fair grounds, and at state parks/cultural centers as well as usual lodging facilities. 

Revenues will go into a newly created account strictly for Wyoming tourism. This 5% is estimated to bring in at least $10 million to the Office of Tourism. The creation of a new account restricts the ability of the Legislature to influence any control over those dedicated funds.

Less money will go to city/county tourism and much more money will be poured into the state tourism office and its projects. Current law allows counties, cities and towns to impose up to 4% sales tax on lodging services. Over half of Wyoming’s counties had already imposed a 4% tax on lodging services. This bill would reduce their allowable rate to 2% while adding an additional 1% to be redirected to the tourism account. In other words, those counties would now see a 5% tax collected with 3% of it dedicated to the state tourism office. 

The financial affect of the bill is difficult to understand and the financial note provides little information about how this will play out. In addition, no administrative costs were provided. It does looks like most counties will not see that ‘lost’ 2% come back, as appropriations to counties from this fund will be proportional to the monies collected in that county. 

There is one county that will benefit the most, receiving the lion’s share. The majority of counties will get little back, especially with the new 2% cap that cuts their proceeds in half while increasing the tax burden. This will hit private owners (‘Mom & Pop’) especially hard.

HB106 Party Affiliation Changes was voted down by the Senate Committee of the Whole. The bill can only be brought back by one of the no voters in the Senate. The current version lacks the May date for closing the Primary.  

HB103 Reporting of Abortions will be in third (3rd) reading today. We appreciate the support behind this pro-life legislation. 

HB220 National Retail Fairness Act, though not currently listed as being in hearing in the Senate, this bill still has the support and interest of House leadership and members. Given the unusual actions on Friday, it’s worthwhile to watch for any action on this bill. It would be worth your while today to listen to sessions and/or be in contact with your legislators regarding any bills that concern you. 

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