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WRA Legislative Update - February 15, 2016
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2016 WRA LEGISLATIVE STATUS REPORT #2

The 2016 Budget Session convened on Monday, February 8, 2016 with the Joint Session of the Wyoming Legislature and the Governor’s State of the State address. The budget session will last 20 working days and will end on Friday, March 4, 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

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 related to the Retail Industry in Wyoming. This list will be updated weekly. Please watch for the WRA legislative update every Monday for additions and up-to-date information on our legislative priorities.

*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 WRA IS SUPPORTING

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.

HB1: General Government Appropriations -  General state budget bill.  Status - awaiting first reading on both house and senate floor.

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. The WRA supports the JAC recommendation for the Wyoming Office of Tourism biennium budget.

HB 35: Pharmacy Benefit Manager Regulation - Bill would regulate maximum allowable cost and pharmacy audit procedures. Status - passed introduction and committee. Awaiting first reading on the house floor.

HB 95: Abandoned Gift Certificates and Value Cards - Sunset Repeal - Bill would repeal the sunset on exemption of electronic gift cards from unclaimed property requirements. Status - passed introduction and awaiting committee hearing. 

SF 65: Patent Trolling -  Bill prohibits bad faith assertion of patent infringement. Status - passed introduction and awaiting committee hearing.

SJ 04: Labeling for Genetically Engineered Items - Resolution requests Congress to enact legislation reaffirming that the USDA is the primary authority in uniform food labeling related to genetic engineering. Status - passed introduction and awaiting committee hearing.

BILLS WRA IS MONITORING

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. The WRA is currently considering taking a position of support for Medicaid Expansion.

SF 8: Bicycle and Pedestrian System Task Force - 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 - awaiting introduction.

SF 89: Workers Compensation - Time For Requested Hearing - 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.

HB 104: Food Freedom Act - Cooked Meat Products -  Allows the sale of prepared food products containing meat pursuant to the food freedom act and pursuant to the appropriate food safety inspection. Status - passed introduction and awaiting committee hearing.

BILLS THAT HAVE DIED

HB 4: Minimum Wage - 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 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 - Bill would have removed Wyoming from participating in daylight savings time. Status - was not considered for introduction.

HB 111: Wage Transparency - 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 131: Optional Sales Tax on Food - Bill would have allowed counties vote on optional sales tax on food. Status - failed introduction 15-44-1.

HB 157:- Sales Tax Exemption - Rodeo Tickets - Bill would have exempted rodeo tickets from sales tax collection.
Status - failed introduction vote 13-46-1.

SF 13: Severance Tax Distributions - Bill would divert a percentage of severance tax from going into savings to instead be used for general funding until 2022.  Status - withdrawn by sponsor.

HJ 1: Labeling For Genetically Engineered Items - Joint Resolution requests Congress to enact legislation reaffirming that the USDA is the primary authority in uniform food labeling related to genetic engineering. Status - failed introduction 33-25-2.

Get Involved! Keep up with the Session & Contact your Legislators

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, log on to 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.

If you have any questions, please contact Chris Brown at 307-634-8816 x 207 or chris@wyoretail.org.

 

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Wyoming Retail Association (WRA)
P.O. Box 1003, Cheyenne, WY 82003  Phone: (307) 634-8816, Fax (307) 632-0249