The 2019 general session passed the half way mark last week and is scheduled to run through Wednesday, February 27, 2019, with five additional days available if needed. The Legislature will not convene February 18 in observance of Presidents' Day.
The final count for bills and resolutions listed on the Wyoming Legislature website this session is 499. Bills can be found here.
This year's Gillette Area Leadership Institute class headed to Cheyenne for their yearly visit to the Legislature. Governor Mark Gordon met with the class as they toured the Governor's Mansion, and then signed Senate Resolution 1, declaring December 10, 2019 as the official 150th anniversary of Wyoming Women's Suffrage.
The class will continue to visit with lawmakers and explore Cheyenne through Friday.
There were a variety of amendments to the Wyoming Business Council budget that were considered in both the house and senate budget discussions. Please find a summary below of those that passed. Any amendments that passed one chamber but not the other will need to be worked out in a conference committee assigned to work through proposed differences in the budget.
House passed amendments:
The house and senate differ by about $80 million on their marked up supplemental budgets and are continuing to meet and discuss ways to close the gap. A conference committee(s) will be assigned to work out the differences between the house and senate versions of the budget.
House Bill 66, the Statewide Lodging Tax, was introduced to the Senate on Monday and has been referred to the Senate Committee for Travel, Recreation, Wildlife & Cultural Resources. (Senator Driskill is Committee Chairman, Gillette Senator Wasserburger is also a member of the Travel Committee.)
Senate File 43, the Hathaway Scholarship bill that will modify the Hathaway Scholarship Program to allow for a career technical aptitude test to satisfy Hathaway Scholarship eligibility requirements, has passed both the House and Senate. It awaits Governor Gordon's signature.
Don't forget that March 19 is our Legislative Wrap-Up Breakfast. You can register online or by calling 307-682-3673. We will once again be hosting our local legislators at the Gillette College Technical Education Center at 7 a.m. Breakfast from Pokey's BBQ starts at 6:30 a.m.
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.
Prepared by: Charlene Murdock, Executive Director
Campbell County Chamber of Commerce
The Wyoming Legislature is in full swing, having concluded two weeks of work on the state's business. At this time just over 350 bills and resolutions have been filed for consideration.
There are a number of issues we are following, as outlined in the bill tracking report below. A few measures that are worthy of mentioning:
Governor’s State of the State Address:
The Honorable Governor Matthew H. Mead addressed the Wyoming Legislature on January 11, 2017, to kick off the 64th legislative session. His address conveyed a tone of optimism for how well the state has managed so far during the economic downturn, along with prompting for the Legislature to address budget shortfalls in a prudent and responsible fashion and to maintain an attitude of progressive investment in economic diversification measures.
The Governor reported that the State of Wyoming, although facing challenging times of lower revenues, remains strong. The state has $1.59 billion in the Legislative Stabilization and Reserve Account (LSRA), the state’s rainy day fund; and another $7.4 billion in the Permanent Mineral Trust Fund, an in volatile fund that generates considerable income to the state via interest.
You can find a synopsis of the Governor’s State of the State Address here.
Listen to the State of the State audio here:
Link to a written copy of the State of the State address here:
Campbell County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Charlene Murdock will be monitoring legislation and engaging as needed to serve as the “Voice of Business” for Campbell County. If you have questions or concerns on any bill, email CharleneM@GilletteChamber.com.
63rd Wyoming Legislature