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.
- House: 216 bills and 7 resolutions
- Senate: 133 bills and 7 resolutions
The legislative process moves at a fast pace in Wyoming and the cut-off for new legislation is fast approaching. Senate members must have any new bills to the Legislative Service office this coming Wednesday, January 25; House members have until Monday, January 30. For a bill to proceed in this year’s session, the proposal must be introduced and considered in Committee by Thursday, February 2.
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:
- HB19 – Sales from Remote Sellers is a measure that would require out of state, online sellers, selling into Wyoming with more than $100,000 annually in sales or 200 transactions, to collect and remit Wyoming sales taxes. This follows a recent announcement that Amazon will voluntarily collect sales tax on purchases made from Wyoming residents, an effort that is rumored to net $6 million for Wyoming – good news for local merchants and for the State.
- HB140 – Minimum Wage would raise the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour and tipped wages to $5.50 an hour. This bill is not expected to gain traction.
- HB80 – Transportation Network Companies – also known as the Uber bill, would create a mechanism for ride-sharing networks.
- HB82 – Local Option Sales and Use Taxes would allow local option taxes, like Penny Power, to be voted on for increase mid-cycle without the threat of losing the existing percentage on the mid-cycle vote.
- Revisions to lodging tax – there are several proposals to change the way lodging tax collections are utilized. We will monitor and coordinate with the Campbell County Lodging Board to weigh in as needed.
- Tax issues that create unfair and unbalanced taxation scenarios. As history repeats itself and the state faces another funding crisis, it is expected that measures will arise to put more burden on the energy industry. Such a move is detrimental to our local economy as additional burden for the energy industry comes at a time when our energy markets have not rebounded. Any approach to taxation should be fairly assessed across industries and citizens alike. While none of us wants to pay more tax, if increases are demed necessary, we must all be accountable for the government services provided in Wyoming and energy-based regions should not be compelled to pay more than others.
Other issues of interest:
- Funding for K-12 education – the state’s School Foundation Program is only able to fund K-12 education through this biennium, but not beyond. The funding shortfall is expected to be $1.5 billion over the next 6 years, not accounting for school capital construction and improvements to facilities. A white paper on the issue is available here. Legislators indicate the issue is too large to address with spending cuts and too large too address with tax increases – a combination of cuts and tax increases is expected The Chamber is providing comments on the white paper – our primary concern is the proposed used of mill levies to lessen the shortfall. Mill levies fall disproportionately on the minerals sector, which has the potential to impact the Campbell County economy.
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.
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 [email protected].