The 2019 general session is scheduled to run through Wednesday, February 27, 2019, with five additional days available if needed.
As of today there are 499 bills and resolutions listed on the Wyoming Legislature website. The total expected bill load was 500. Bills can be found here.
A number of these bills could impact economic development and diversification. It is more important now than ever to promote our economy at both the state and local level by letting represenatives know your thoughts on legislation currently being discussed. You can use the "comments" section of any bill to have your voice heard on these initiatives. You can also contact a legislator to leave a message by calling the Senate receptionist at 307-777-7711 or the House receptionist at 307-777-7852.
Tuesday, January 29 was the last day for House Bills to be submitted for introduction. Tomorrow, Friday, February 1, is the last day for Bills to be reported out of Committee in their house of origin.
Tuesday, February 4 will be the last day for a Second Reading on legislation in their house of origin, and February 6 will be the last day for a Third Reading.
A lot will be happening in the upcoming weeks. We will be following bills of interest, as well as those of interest to the Wyoming Economic Development Association (WEDA) and the Wyoming Taxpayer's Association (WTA).
From WEDA, a Wyoming Business Council JAC Update:
"During the Joint Appropriations Committee supplemental budget discussions last week there was significant action taken on the Wyoming Business Councils administrative and business ready community accounts. Please see below for a summary. We will be monitoring the floor discussion very closely to ensure no cuts are made to the Wyoming Business Council.
$100k from WBC for international agriculture marketing in the "south rim." Legislature wants to continue relationship and be sure that Mainland China is included since they're the largest import market in the world.
$250k in operations and $2mm from BRC shall not be expended until further legislative authorization. Requires WBC to report by 11/1/19 on other ED activities in other agencies. Not intended to be punitive - Their perception is that there is a lot economic development related funds committed through various programs and their legislature wants a report detailing everything so that funds are being used in an efficient manner.
$250k from BRC to local economic developers with matching funds for aerospace manufacturing projects
$3 million from broadband account (created through endow last year) to BRC account earmarked for rural underserved broadband areas"
Bills we are following:
House Bill 66, the Statewide Lodging Tax, passed the House by a vote of 44-16, and was introduced to the Senate on January 22. Senate File 42, the Hathaway Scholarship Eligibility bill, also has not seen movement since passing the Senate on January 22.
A bill being opposed by WEDA and the WTA, House Bill 67, would remove the sales tax exemption on home-prepared foods, data centers, and manufacturing. It has not moved from the House Appropriations committee since January 15. The last day for it to be sent out of committee would be Friday, February 1. The Sales Tax Revisions bill would reduce the state sales tax to 3.5% and would create a tax on most services.
A bill being monitored by the WTA, House Bill 166, would increase the annual decal fee for a plug-in electric vehicle from $50 to $200; and would establish a $100 required decal for a hybrid electric vehicle. The change is projected to increase revenue from approximately $12,000 a year to a projected $140,900 a year. That bill passed its second reading in the House this morning. It is Co-Sponsored by Senator Ogden Driskill.
House Bill 96, an 80% tax increase on wind energy production, was not introduced to the House. A similar bill, House Bill 239, would have increased the tax on wind energy production 75%. It was sponsored by Gillette's Representative Edwards and also failed to be introduced in the House. House Bill 260 would have increased tax on wind energy production by 80%, but incrementally over a period of 5 years. That bill also was not introduced to the House.
House Bill 167 relates to the severance tax rate on surface coal, it would reduce the tax rate from 7% to 6.5%. The Wyoming Taxpayer's Association is monitoring this bill, which was referred to the Revenue committe on January 18.
As of today, January 23, there are 379 bills and resolutions on the floor of the Legislature, with 10 being introduced in the last day alone. Many of our associated organizations are tracking legislation they support, and we are sharing a few of those bills, and their status, with you:
On Friday, January 18, Senate Joint Resolution 8, a piece of legislation asking that Congress write a constitutional amendment to regulate Super PACs, was introduced to the Wyoming Senate by local Senator Jeff Wasserburger. On Tuesday, January 22, SJ0008 was referred for consideration to the Senate Minerals, Business & Economic Development committee, which Senator Wasserberger is a member of.
Senate File 55, the Optometrists practice act supported by local optometrists in Campbell County, as well as Senators Von Flatern and Wasserburger, has passed its third reading in the Senate. It moved on to the House on January 23.
The bill includes an amendment from Senator Wasserburger assuring patients that optometrists seeking to perform advanced procedures in Wyoming have received training from "a college of optometry accredited by the Accreditation Council on Optometric Education."
Senate File 43, the Hathaway scholarship bill, has passed the Senate and was received by the House on Tuesday. Senators Driskill, Von Flatern, and Wasserburger voted for the final version of the bill in the Senate. The bill is supported by the Wyoming Economic Development Association.
House Bill 96, which is sponsored by Gillette Representatives Scott Clem and Tim Hallinan -- and would increase the tax on wind energy from $1 per megawatt hour to $5 per megawatt hour -- is still awaiting introduction to the Legislature. The Wyoming Economic Development Association opposes the bill, as does the Wyoming Taxpayer's Association.
House Bill 66, the statewide lodging tax legislation, has passed the House and was received in the Senate Tuesday afternoon. The bill is supported by the Wyoming Taxpayers Association and the Wyoming Economic Development Association, as well as the Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition. It creates a 5% statewide lodging tax, with 3% of revenue dedicated to funding the Wyoming Office of Tourism, and the other 2% replacing local option lodging taxes, eliminating the need to vote on them every four years.
The addition of this local funding piece, along with the ability for individual counties to still vote on up to an additional 2% every four years if they require it in their locality, is an alternative to previous legislation, and a funding initiative that has been worked on by the tourism industry and the legislature for more than 2 years.
According to the Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition, they are "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."
Gillette Representatives Barlow and Pownell voted for the third version of the bill, which was sent to the Senate. Representatives Clem, Edwards, and Hallinan voted against it.
"Volunteerism and public service are a wonderful trademark of our country. " - Office of the Governor
There are many board and commission openings with the City of Gillette, Campbell County, and State of Wyoming.
Currently the City of Gillette has an opening on the Public Land Board: The members of the Land Board are responsible for overseeing the orderly development and improvement, maintenance and operation of the CAM-PLEX property and facilities. The board meets the second Thursday of the month at 6:30 p.m. in the Board Room at the CAM-PLEX. Click here to apply and see full board opening listing.
Campbell County has an opening on the Joint Powers Fire Board: This board is responsible for the oversight of the emergency services which include, but are not limited to fire suppression, hazardous materials response, wildland operations, technical rescue, and a countywide first responder program delivered to all of the citizens who live within the Campbell County boundaries. The board meets on the second Wednesday of each month at 6:00 p.m. at the Fire Department's Community Room, Station One, at 106 Rohan Ave. Click here to apply and see full board opening listing.
There are also dozens of openings with the State of Wyoming. By legislative mandate or executive order, there may be specific requirements for certain appointments. For example, factors such as political party, geographical distribution, and professional or occupational disciplines may be relevant. For details on these requirements, you may call Tatum Soto (307-777-5647).
Click here to see a full list of openings, and to fill out an application. (Please note that applications for gubernatorial appointments are generally kept on active file for a period of two years.)
Chamber Member (and winner of the 2018 Award of Excellence for Small Business) Gillette Optometric Clinic, sent the following in regards to Senate File 55, Optometrists Practice Act Amendments:
"We are contacting you today because we want you to be aware of important changes the Wyoming Legislature is considering regarding the procedures that we can provide you or your family here in our offices. You may have heard on the news there has been a debate in the State Capitol on what we are trying to accomplish with supporting changes to the Wyoming Optometrists Practice Act.
Through the Wyoming Optometric Association, we asked the legislature to study advances in the practice of optometry through the Legislature’s Joint Labor, Health and Social Service Committee. After about a year’s worth of work the committee drafted and sponsored Senate File 55, Optometrists Practice Act Amendments.
The legislation recognizes that Doctors of Optometry deliver essential components of patients’ overall primary health that goes beyond prescribing glasses or contact lenses. Current curriculum being taught in accredited optometry schools across the country and for which current Doctors of Optometry receive during continuing education has made significant advances. However, we have not been able to use these new advances in Wyoming due to limits in state law on what services we may provide for your eye health. These limits have not been looked at in 25 years.
Wyoming Doctors of Optometry currently provide 98% of eye care in 21 counties in Wyoming. Allowing the updates to our scope of practice to include procedures we are trained in will improve patient care and patient access.
We strive to provide you with leading solutions and the best available procedures which keep your eyes healthy. Our request to the Legislature has been simple, let your local eye doctor provide you with the quality eyecare services for which we are trained. Passage of original Senate File 55 will help us accomplish those goals.
We need your help and the Legislators need to hear from you as citizens. They need to hear that you support original Senate File 55 which will allow us to provide you with the best eye care we can with the most updated and safe procedures for which we have been trained and certified.
Dr. Roger L. Jordan, OD
Dr. Joseph L. Fischer, OD
Dr. Joseph C. Maycock, OD
Dr. Ashlee Mills-Fischer, OD
Dr. Melissa M. Younger, OD"
You can voice your support for the bill online here, or contact one of your local Senators and ask that they support the bill.
Governor-Elect Mark Gordon was sworn in this past week and delivered his first State of the State Address on Wednesday. In his remarks, he laid out his general priorities.
The legislative session has kicked off and is underway. As of this writing, 226 bills have been filed, and the Wyoming State Chamber expects many more. One of the bills we are tracking has moved very fast this week. SF0043, which add a career-vocational pathway to Hathaway Scholarship eligibility passed 2nd Reading in the Senate on Friday.
Other bills being tracked:
The Wyoming Legislative Session convenes today at Noon. Here are the best ways to contact your representative while the legislature is in session:
Representative for District 3 (includes Converse county) Eric Barlow: email Eric.Barlow@wyoleg.gov
Representative for District 31, Scott Clem: email Scott.Clem@wyoleg.gov, or text (307) 660-7141
Representative for District 53, Roy Edwards: email Roy.Edwards@wyoleg.gov
Representative for District 32, Tim Hallinan: email Tim.Hallinan@wyoleg.gov
Representative for District 52, Bill Pownall: email Bill.Pownall@wyoleg.gov
For a full contact list of House Representatives, click here.
Senator for District 24, Michael Von Flatern: email Michael.VonFlatern@wyoleg.gov or text (307) 680-4744
Senator for District 23, Jeff Wasserburger: text (307) 680-2943
Senator for District 1 (includes Crook and Weston counties) Ogden Driskill: text (307) 680-5555
Mr. Driskill has been elected Senate Vice President for the current Legislative Session.
For a full contact list of Senators, click here.
You can listen live to the Joint Session of the Legislature and Governor's State of the State address today at 10 a.m. by clicking here.
We'll be keeping up to date with events during the session right here on our Legislative Monitoring blog. Please check back for updates!
63rd Wyoming Legislature