Final WRA LEGISLATIVE SESSION UPDATE
March 4, 2019

 

The 2019 Wyoming Legislative General Session came to a close in the wee hours of last Thursday morning with the legislature adjourning Sine Die around 2:00 am.

Your association was engaged every single day of the session and our efforts resulted in successfully protecting and enhancing the business climate that retailers in Wyoming operate in.

Without question the defeat of HB 220-National Retail Fairness Act was our top priority this session and we are pleased to report that we were successful. The bill, if passed, would have established the first corporate income tax in Wyoming history. The bill would have levied a 7% income tax on ONLY retail and hospitality businesses with 100 or more shareholders. This would have created a significantly uneven playing field within our industry. The bill was rushed through the Wyoming House of Representatives but we were able to slow things down in the senate. The defeat of this bill took significant effort and resources. Thank you to our national partners the National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders of America, the National Restaurant Association, American Hotel and Lodging Association and the International Franchise Association among others. A special thank you goes out to Walmart and WRA Board Chairman Deborah Herron, Grand Teton Lodge Company and WLRA Immediate Past President Alex Klein and Jessica Lynam, Regional Government Affairs Director for McDonalds for their in person time and effort to defeat this bill. There were numerous members and other national organizations that also weighed in- thank you all so very much for your support.

We were also successful in passing HB 69-Collections of Sales Tax by Marketplace Facilitators. The WRA has long championed fairness for Wyoming’s Main Street, Brick and Mortar Retailers and this bill represents the final component towards leveling the playing field. HB 69 establishes that marketplace facilitators selling into Wyoming (Ebay, Etsy, Amazon) must collect and remit sales tax just like their Main Street counterparts. We are extremely proud of the passage of this piece of legislation.

We were successful in adding an additional $500,000 to the Wyoming Office of Tourism biennium budget. The visitor economy plays a significant role in the success of Wyoming’s retail industry and we are very pleased to help increase the state’s marketing budget to drive more visitors to our great state and ultimately to your business.

We assisted in the passage of HB 63- Pharmacy Benefit Managers-Prescription Cost Notification that prohibits Pharmacy Benefit Managers from prohibiting or penalizing pharmacies from disclosing affordable alternatives for prescriptions.

Finally, we assisted with the passage of SF 81- Electronic Bicycles-Regulation. Electronic bicycles are one of the fastest selling items in cycling but Wyoming’s laws regarding the usage of E-bikes was significantly lacking. WRA Board Member Patrick Collins initiated this legislation and bicycle shops and E-bike enthusiasts across the state are grateful for his efforts! Great job Patrick!

The interim period between now and the 2020 Wyoming Legislative Budget Session will be busy and your association will be engaged every step of the way. We absolutely anticipate further discussion of a corporate income tax to tax place over the spring. Please keep a close eye on the WRA monthly e-newsletter for updates as the interim progresses. 

 

Bills that we supported that passed

HB 69-Collections of Sales Tax by Marketplace Facilitators
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0069
Would require online marketplace facilitators (Amazon, Etsy, Ebay, etc) to collect and remit sales tax on sales into Wyoming.
Status-Passed the house and senate and signed into law by Governor Mark Gordon!

SF 81- Electronic Bicycles-Regulation
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/SF0081
Bill would define regulation and establish classes of electronic bicycles
Status-Passed the house and senate and signed into law by Governor Mark Gordon!

Governor’s recommended supplemental budget request of $2.5 million for the Wyoming Office of Tourism.


Wyoming’s marketing program currently ranks 29th in the nation, well below most of our competing surrounding states. This funding is a stopgap that will aid in elevating marketing resources and driving more visitor traffic to Wyoming until an alternative funding source is passed. Status-Joint Appropriations Committee denied the $2.5 million request and approved $500,000. There were no further amendments to the tourism budget.

https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0001

HB 63- Pharmacy Benefit Managers-Prescription Cost Notification
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0063
Would prohibit Pharmacy Benefit Managers from penalizing or prohibiting pharmacies from disclosing prescription cost or affordable alternatives.
Status-Passed the house and senate and signed into law by Governor Mark Gordon!



Bills we monitored


HB 71-Equal Pay Penalties
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0071
Would amend penalties for equal pay provisions.
Status-Passed the house and senate and signed by Governor Gordon.


SF 45-Emergency Administration of Opiate Antagonist-Revisions
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/SF0045
Would define the terms, entity and opioid for purposes of emergency administration of opioid antagonist.
Status-Passed the senate and house. Signed by Governor Gordon.


SF 46-Opioid Prescription Limits
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/SF0046
Would limit the amount of opioids that may be prescribed.
Status-Passed the senate and house. Signed by Governor Gordon.


SF 47- Controlled Substances Education and Administration
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/SF0047
Would require boards regulating health care to require continuing education related to controlled substances, would require electronic prescriptions for controlled substances and would require practitioners to search the controlled substance prescription-tracking program.
Status-Passed the senate and house. Signed by Governor Gordon.


Bills that died

HB 14 Mountain Daylight Time https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0014
Bill eliminates daylight savings time and would put Wyoming in a different time zone than our neighboring states for a significant period of time each year. The bill would not go into effect until three adjoining states agreed to do the same.

HB 64-Indexing Fuel Taxes
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0064
Would index Wyoming’s fuel tax to the Consumer Price Index (CPI)

HB 66- Lodging Tax
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0066
Creates a 5% statewide lodging tax as an alternative-funding source for growing the visitor economy through the Wyoming Office of Tourism. 3% would be dedicated to funding the Wyoming Office of Tourism. The other 2% would replace 2% of local option lodging taxes across Wyoming eliminating the need to vote on them every four years. Local option lodging tax boards will still have the ability to vote on up to an additional 2% every four years. The hospitality industry has been working on the alternative funding initiative for more than 2 years and is 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


HB 67-Sales Tax Revisions
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0067
Would remove the sales tax exemption on home-prepared foods, data centers and manufacturing. The bill would reduce the state sales tax to 3.5% and would create a tax on most services.

HB 72- Wage Transparency
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0072
Would prohibit employers from barring employees from disclosing wage information and would prohibit employers from requiring employees to waive wage disclosure rights.

HB 93-Tourism Improvement Districts https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0093
A tourism improvement district, or TID, is a mechanism for funding local tourism promotion activities. An assessment is placed on tourism businesses within a designated geographic area and the funds raised through the assessment are used for specific tourism marketing purposes. The bill will be written as enabling legislation, meaning that it allows for the conversation about Tourism Improvement Districts in your communities but it does not create or mandate anyone to utilize a TID.

HB 119-Sales Tax Recovery-Statute of Limitations
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0119
Would amend the sales tax audit statute tolling time period to one year


HB 200-Wyoming Pregnant Workers Fairness Act
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0200
Would specify accommodations needed to be made for medial needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth and related conditions

HB 218-Tobacco Tax
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0218
Would increase the sales and use tax on all tobacco products

HB 220 Retail Fairness Act
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0220
Bill would create a new 7% corporate income tax on retail and hospitality business with 100 or more shareholders

HB 273- Minimum Wage
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/HB0273
Would increase the state minimum wage to $8.50/hr and increase it to $10.00 over a 5-year period.

SF 12-Business Licensing Fees
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/SF0012
Would increase the filing fees for corporations


SF 16-Community Development Districts
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/SF0016
Authorizes municipalities to create community development districts through specific assessments.

SF 48- Unemployment Compensation-Seasonal Employees
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/SF0048
Would define unemployment benefits for seasonal employees

SF 101- Wage Offset for Employee Theft
https://www.wyoleg.gov/Legislation/2019/SF0101
Would allow businesses to withhold earnings from an employee that has been found guilty of theft from their employer.