WSCC 2016 Legislative Budget Session Positions – Updated 2.15.2016

The Wyoming State Chamber of Commerce supports a prosperous business environment that will foster growth in communities across the state.  A strong nation, state and community exist through a strong military, tax policy that is not discriminatory, an infrastructure – physical and social – that meets the local community needs for the present and the future, an education system that allows personal advancement and achievement and the availability and access to health care.

Legislative Update February 15, 2016

The final day for bills to be introduced was last Friday, February 12, 2016 and a total of 279 bills were filed and listed on the Legislative Services Office website.  You can find all of the bills for this session listed here http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2016/billreference/BillReference.aspx?type=ALL

The last day for introduced bills to report out of committee in their house of origin is this Thursday, February 18, 2016 and the last day for introduced bills to get through first reading on the floor in their house of origin is this Friday, February 19, 2016.

 

The primary focus of the legislature will be the state’s biennium budget.  With our state facing a biennium shortfall in the hundreds of millions due to the current economic downturn in the energy industry, this session is going to be challenging, as legislators will be faced with the difficulty of balancing the biennium budget for the next two years.

 

The Joint Appropriations Committee worked tirelessly last week to finish preparing their recommended budget bills for this session.  Ultimately, 5 separate budget bills will be debated on both the house and senate floors (General Government Funding, Local Government Funding, Capital Construction, etc.) The budget bills will begin to be presented today and throughout this week.

 

A mirror copy of each of the budget bills will be debated simultaneously on the floor of both the house and the senate.  Then the marked up versions will be sent to the other chamber for concurrence.  The items that both chambers do not concur on will be compromised on in a conference committee later in the session.

 

Many bills failed to receive the 2/3 vote needed for introduction last week. The following list is comprised of the bills currently listed, related to the Wyoming State Chamber of Commerce priorities and other business or community related legislation. This list will be updated weekly. Please watch for the WSCC legislative update every Monday for additions and up-to-date information on the legislative priorities of the Wyoming State Chamber of Commerce.

 

*Please watch closely for legislative alerts and calls to action throughout the next few weeks.  The legislature moves quickly and timely grassroots outreach from our membership makes the difference in advancing our priorities. *

BILLS WSC SUPPORTS

2017-2018 Biennium Budget

The 2017-2018 biennium budget is being finalized by the Joint Appropriations Committee (JAC) and is awaiting introduction.  The budget bill (s) will be debated on both the senate and house floors simultaneously.  Each version will then be sent to the opposite chamber for concurrence.  If the house and the senate do not concur, then the line items that the two chambers differ on will be individually determined in conference committee to find agreeable compromises.  Once agreed upon by both chambers, the budget will go to the Governor for his approval. Status-SF 1 and HB 1 General Government Appropriations has been introduced and will begin to be heard in both chambers today.

 

 

Local Government Funding- After questioning the constitutionality of funding local government through the budget bill, the Joint Appropriations Committee drafted a separate budget bill to appropriate funding for local governments.  The current recommended amount from the Joint Appropriations Committee sits at $90 million for the biennium.  Local Governments are pushing for an additional $15 million to bring the biennium total to $105 million, which would equal the direct distribution amount they received last biennium. WSCC supports bringing the total to $105 million and is monitoring closely for an amendment to add the difference back in. Status- an attempt to add $15 million to local government funding from the lsra (rainy day account) failed in the Joint Appropriations Committee last Friday.

 

Wyoming Office of Tourism Funding- The Joint Appropriations Committee has recommended $4.4 million to deepen and build upon existing markets like Seattle, Kansas City, Portland OR, Chicago, etc.  JAC has also recommended $2 million for Wyoming to expand our international visibility through research and cooperative opportunities with Brand USA. Additionally, the Film Industry Financial Incentive has been extended by 2 years through a budget amendment. WSC supports the JAC recommendation for the Wyoming Office of Tourism biennium budget.

 

Wyoming Business Council/Business Ready Communities- The Business Ready Communities Program (BRC) has helped retain and attract new businesses to communities across Wyoming.  JAC reduced the Governor’s recommendation for the BRC program by an additional $6.5 million and the entire Wyoming Business Council biennium budget by approximately 17%.  WSC supports funding the BRC program and will be closely monitoring this for amendments seeking to add back some of the funding that was removed.

 

Medicaid Expansion- The list of industries and associations supporting the expansion of Medicaid continues to grow as Wyoming grapples with significant budget shortfalls, uncompensated care at hospitals and an uninsured population that would benefit, near 20,000.  Medicaid Expansion was proposed in Governor Mead’s recommended budget for the Wyoming Dept. of health but the JAC removed it.  Whether expansion is revisited through a budget amendment or an individual bill remains to be seen.  Either way it will be an uphill battle to get it passed this session.  WSC supports expansion and will continue to monitor this as it develops.

 

Enhanced Airline Funding- Governor Mead recommended enhanced airline funding at the same levels as the previous biennium.  He also allowed flexibility to the Dept. of Transportation to move funding between the programs as needed during the biennium.  The standard budget was not cut and the WSC will monitor this funding closely.

SF 3 Permissive Preference for Veterans in Private Employment http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2016/Introduced/SF0003.pdf

Bill would allow private employers to give preferential treatment to veterans when hiring.

Status-passed committee and first reading on the senate floor.

Bills WSCC is monitoring

SF 8 Bicycle and Pedestrian System Task Force http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2016/Introduced/SF0008.pdf

Bill would allow the creation of a task force to study the potential tourism and safety benefits of expanding Wyoming’s bicycle and pedestrian pathways.

Status-passed through the senate and awaiting introduction in the house.

 

HB 84 Catering Permits http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2016/Introduced/HB0084.pdf

Increases the number of catering permits a person or organization can receive in a year.

Status-passed introduction and awaiting committee hearing.

 

HB 95 Abandoned Gift Certificates and Value Cards-Sunset repeal http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2016/Introduced/HB0095.pdf

Bill would repeal the sunset on exemption of electronic gift cards from unclaimed property requirements.

Status-passed introduction and awaiting committee hearing.

 

SF 54 Appropriations to Local Governments-Codification

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2016/Introduced/SF0054.pdf

Bill would codify the current funding formula for local government funding distributions.

Status-passed introduction and awaiting committee hearing.

 

SF 65 Patent Trolling http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2016/Introduced/SF0065.pdf

Bill prohibits bad faith assertion of patent infringement

Status-passed introduction and awaiting committee hearing.

 

SF 89 Workers Compensation-Time For Requested Hearing http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2016/Introduced/SF0065.pdf

Bill would clarify the amount of time a party has to request a hearing related to a final determination on a case.

Status-passed introduction and awaiting committee hearing.

 

Bills that have died

HB 4 Minimum Wage http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2016/Introduced/HB0004.pdf

Bill would raise Wyoming’s minimum wage to $9.50/hr. and tipped minimum wage to $5.50/hr.  This would make Wyoming the 8th highest minimum wage in the nation.

Status-failed introduction vote 9-49-2

HB 5 Prohibited Question on Job Applications http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2016/Introduced/HB0005.pdf

Bill would prohibit employers from asking about past criminal convictions on job applications.

Status-failed introduction vote 10-48-2

 

HB 68 Daylight Savings Time

http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2016/Introduced/HB0068.pdf

Bill would have removed Wyoming from participating in daylight savings time.

Status-was not considered for introduction

 

HB 111 Wage Transparency http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2016/Introduced/HB0111.pdf

Bill would have prohibited employers from barring employees from discussing wage information and would not allow barring wage discussion as a term of employment.

Status- failed introduction vote 20-38-2

 

HB 147 Game Licenses-Fees and Allocations http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2016/Introduced/HB0147.pdf

Bill would have reduced the number of various non-resident big game hunting licenses.

Status- was not considered for introduction

 

HB 151- Tax on Lodging Services http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2016/Introduced/HB0151.pdf

Bill would have extended the number of consecutive nights an overnight stay must be for exemption from the lodging tax from 30 days to 180 days.

Status- was not considered for introduction

HB 157- Sales Tax Exemption-Rodeo Tickets http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2016/Introduced/HB0157.pdf

Bill would have exempted rodeo tickets from sales tax collection.

Status-failed introduction vote 13-46-1

 

SF 13 Severance tax Distributions http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2016/Introduced/SF0013.pdf

Bill would divert severance tax from going into savings to instead be used for general funding until 2022.

Status-withdrawn by sponsor

 

Get Involved!

Click here for a list of all legislators’ emails, which is their preferred method of contact.

During the session you can contact a legislator to leave a message by calling the Senate receptionist at 307-777-7711 or the House receptionist at 307-777-7852.

To check on committee schedules, view bills, listen to live broadcasts of the legislative session or find out how individual legislators vote, visit the Legislative website at http://legisweb.state.wy.us

During the legislative session, you can recommend support for or opposition to a particular piece of legislation by using the Online Hotline. In addition to expressing support for or opposition to an identified bill, you can also leave a short comment regarding the bill. Comments are limited to 140 characters.  The Online Hotline can be fount at: http://legisweb.state.wy.us/postcomments/onlinehotline.aspx.

For more information please contact:

                                                               

Chris Brown, Legislative Liaison                                      Heidi Peterson, Executive Director

cell 307-221-173                                                                 cell 307-760-3897

chris@wywagan.org                                                          info@wyomingchambers.com