Legislative Session Extended until March 15

legislative wrap up march 15
According to Gillette representative Eric Barlow, the budget session being extended was simply a matter of needing more time, and having three extra days on the books.

“It’s not common, but it’s not unusual,” Barlow told the Gillette News Record. “There’s nothing nefarious going on.”

The main budget bill, which funds most state agencies, was passed by roughly two-thirds of lawmakers in the House and Senate after reaching a deal to remove both construction and education cuts from the budget. The idea was that those two topics would then be addressed in separate pieces of legislation. The extension is in order to address the remaining education and construction bills.

The House will reconvene at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, the Senate on Thursday, meaning the Chamber has had to push their March 13 Legislative Wrap-Up breakfast to March 22.

In interim between now and the next general session in 2019, legislative committees will meet at least three times. The Wyoming State Chamber of Commerce will be tracking committee topic assignments. For now, they’ve issued their final report on the session:


Wyoming Office of Tourism Biennium Budget
The Joint Appropriations Committee is recommending the Wyoming Office of Tourism (WOT) biennium budget at approximately $12.5 million per year or $25 million for the biennium.  The committee upheld cuts that the Governor requested the WOT to make earlier in the year of about $200,000.  Additionally the committee earmarked approximately $200,000 to promote southwest Wyoming.  Wyoming currently ranks 31st in the nation for tourism funding.
Status- The Joint Appropriations Committee cut $2.2 million out of the tourism budget at the start of the session.  The senate amended the $2.2 million back in on a second reading amendment with a 20-10 vote.  In the house the mirror second reading amendment failed on a 30-29 vote.  A third reading amendment to restore $2 million was brought forward on 3rd reading and it passed the house 36-24.  The conference committee agreed to put $2 million back into the Wyoming Office of Tourism biennium budget. 

Wyoming Business Council Biennium Budget
Governor Mead’s biennium budget recommendation for the Wyoming Business Council was flat vs. the last biennium.  The Joint Appropriations Committee applied a cut of about $380,000 that Governor Mead had originally requested the agency to make but then did not include in his budget recommendation.
Status- There were no proposed cuts to the Wyoming Business Council budget in either the house or the senate. 

Bills that we were monitoring
HB 10 – Workers Compensation-Exterritorial Reciprocity
Would only pay reciprocity for workers compensation cases in other states that also offer reciprocity.
Status-Passed the house and senate.  On its way to Governor Mead for signature.    

HB 14 Municipal Jurisdiction
Addresses same issues as HB 13 but less restrictive.  County would still have ability to nullify if warranted.  Compromise found between cities and counties has reviewing/notification requirements with the city and the proposed date to move forward with this legislation would be Jan. 2019 giving the cities time to prepare for the transition.
Status- Passed the house and senate.  Headed to Governor Mead for signature. 

SF 6 Real Estate
Exempts real estate brokers, salespeople and associate brokers from workers compensation and unemployment.
Status- Passed the senate and house and has been signed into law by Governor Mead.     

SF 18 – Orphan Site Remediation Funding
Non-interest bearing loans available for corrective action related to above and below ground storage tanks and solid waste landfill remediation.  This bill adds orphaned sites to the list making these loans available to orphaned sites for remediation as well.
Status- Passed the senate and house and has been signed into law by Governor Mead.     

SF 89-Local Government Distributions
Appropriates $105 million for the biennium to local governments in a direct distribution.
Status- Passed the senate and house. Awaiting Governor Meads signature. 

ENDOW related bills
Governor Mead’s Economically Needed Diversification of Wyoming (ENDOW) Committee released their initial recommendations and the following are bills related to the advancement of ENDOW’s mission. All ENDOW bills passed with funding intact. 

HB-19 Wyoming Money Transmittal Act- Virtual Currency
Allows for the use of virtual currency in Wyoming.
Status-Passed the house and senate.  Governor Mead has signed into law.   

SF 40 Commercial Air Service Improvement
Establishes the Wyoming Commercial Air Service Improvement Act and creates the Wyoming Commercial Air Service Improvement Council. Tasks the Council with developing a 10-year plan to address commercial air service in Wyoming.
Status-Passed the senate and house.  Headed to Governor Mead for signature. 

SF 100 Economic Diversification-Broadband Services 
Creates a broadband development program and matching funds for projects under the program.  The Wyoming Business Council will administer the program.  The bill establishes a broadband advisory council and dedicates $12 million to the program.
Status-Passed the senate and house.  Headed to Governor Mead for signature. 
The current version of the bill represents a compromise with industry and all are currently in agreement with it. It can be found here.

SF 108 Economic Development and Diversification
Directs the Wyoming Business Council to develop new markets, expand foreign trade efforts, including expanding international markets for Wyoming services, agriculture, products and commodities.  The bill also directs ENDOW to develop a strategy for small, regionally located beef processing plants and mid-large sized plants for international sales. The bill expands the ENDOW committee from 15 to 20 appointed members and directs the committee to review and develop further opportunity for career tech education opportunities in Wyoming.
Status-Passed the senate and house.  Headed to Governor Mead for signature. 

SF 118 Kick Start Wyoming-Economic Diversification
Provides for matching funds for the small business innovation research program; creating the Wyoming research and innovation program, the startup Wyoming and kick start Wyoming programs and houses the programs under the Wyoming Business Council.  Creates an economic diversification account and appropriates $11 million to the programs listed.  Directs the WBC to present a proposal to ENDOW that will assist businesses within the state in priority economic sectors identified in the approved twenty (20) year comprehensive economic diversification strategy no later than July 1, 2018.
Status-Passed the senate and house.  Headed to Governor Mead for signature. 

SF 119 Workforce Development-Priority Economic Sector Program
Establishes the Wyoming workforce development-priority economic sector partnership program to meet the training needs of existing businesses in the state and to provide incentives to businesses to locate and expand within the state through government assisted new jobs training. Appropriates $20 million to the program.
Status-Passed the senate and house.  Headed to Governor Mead for signature. 

Bills that have died
HB 13-Municipal extraterritorial jurisdiction-repeal
Repeal of municipal extraterritorial jurisdiction within one mile of municipality. County commissioners would have final say on projects developed within this radius.
Status- failed passage in the senate

HB 44 Alcoholic Liquors Markup Amount
Would raise the mark up on wholesale liquor purchases for businesses buying from the Wyoming Liquor Division from 17.3% to 20.3%
Status- Failed introduction vote. 

HB 45- Mountain Daylight Savings Time
Would place Wyoming on standard central time, eliminate daylight savings time (spring forward and fall back) and creating a new time zone called mountain daylight savings time
Status- Failed introduction vote. 

HB 49-Unemployment Compensation Exemption-Seasonal Employees
Would exempt employers that utilize seasonal employees working less than 21 consecutive weeks in a 12-month period from unemployment.
Status-Did not make Committee of the Whole (first reading) cutoff deadline. 

HB 51- Reporting of Gross Receipts
Would require businesses in Wyoming to report their gross receipts on their annual filings to the Secretary of State’s office so that the state could gather data about gross receipts in Wyoming to possibly be used later when considering a gross receipts tax.
Status- Not considered for introduction.

HB 53- State Education Program
Amends the state’s educational program relating to computer science and world cultures and languages; providing that computer science courses may satisfy certain high school graduation requirements and certain Hathaway scholarship requirements.
Status- Failed passage in the senate. 

HB 55- Property Offenses.
Reduces misdemeanor and felony offenses for shoplifting and damage against property by significantly increasing the dollar amounts tied to each crime.
Status- Failed passage in the senate  

HB 63- Resident Labor Requirements
Requires resident labor on public projects unless resident labor unavailable
Status- Withdrawn by sponsor

HB 68- Unemployment Compensation-Seasonal Employment
Provides exemption for employers utilizing season employees working 21 consecutive weeks or less in a 12-month period from unemployment.
Status- Not considered for introduction.

HB 90- Country of Origin Recognition- USA Beef
Would require conspicuous placards displayed by all beef being sold to the public, noting its country of origin.
Status- Did not make Committee of the Whole (first reading) cutoff deadline.

HB 104- Wind Energy Production Tax
Increases tax on wind energy production by $3.00 per megawatt hour.
Status-Was not considered for introduction.

HB 118 Wyoming Renewable Energy Policies
Adds all renewable energy to existing wind tax structure and increases to $2.00 per megawatt hour.  Reduces exemption for startups from 3 years to 1 year.
Status-Was withdrawn by the sponsor. 

HB 128- Food Trucks
Provides for the regulation, licensing and rulemaking related to food trucks in Wyoming.
Status- Failed introduction vote. 

HB 154- Build Wyoming Loan Program 
Creates the build Wyoming program providing up to $500 million for loans from the permanent Wyoming mineral trust fund for infrastructure projects.
Status- Failed introduction in the house by 1 vote. 

HB 171- Minimum Wage
Would have raised Wyoming’s minimum hourly wage to $9.50/hr and tipped minimum wage to $5.50/hr
Status- Not considered for introduction.

HB 174- Statewide Lodging Tax
Would have created a 4% statewide lodging tax with half funding the Wyoming Office of Tourism and half being distributed back to local governments.
Status- Not considered for introduction.

SF 52- Workers Comp Rate Discount
Changes from 10% to 15% for complying with substance testing and safety programs.
Status- Failed passage in the house  

SF 113- Community Development Districts
Would authorize municipalities to create community development districts as defined.
Status-Failed passage in the house. 




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