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WRA Legislative Update - February 22, 2016
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2016 WRA LEGISLATIVE STATUS REPORT #3

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.

A few important dates - we are at the half way point!

February 19th was the last day for first reading on bills in House of Origin.

Today, February 22nd is the last day for second reading on bills in House of Origin.

Tomorrow, February 23 is the last day for third reading on bills in House of Origin.

All bills for the 2016 session may be found HERE

The main focus for the legislature this past week was working on the states biennium budget. This resulted in numerous late nights with both chambers working past 9:00 pm several evenings. There were 91 proposed second reading budget amendments and 107 proposed third reading budget amendments debated, one at a time, between both chambers. Budget amendments and outcomes that affected our association are listed under their respective topics below. Your association worked very hard to ensure harmful amendments did not pass as detailed below.

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

*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

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. WRA supports the JAC recommendation for the Wyoming Office of Tourism biennium budget. Status - there were 3 amendments seeking to cut the Wyoming Office of Tourism biennium budget this week and one to increase it. Sen. Chris Rothfuss attempted to add $1.6 million back into the tourism budget and the amendment failed. Rep. Kendell Kroeker proposed an amendment that would have removed all funding for the Film Industry Financial Incentive (FIFI) effectively eliminating the program. This amendment failed. Rep. Scott Clem proposed an amendment seeking to cut half of the FIFI funding and this failed as well. Finally Rep. Cheri Steinmetz proposed an amendment that would have cut $2 million of funding for international marketing programs and the amendment failed. The Wyoming Office of Tourism biennium budget passed 3rd reading in both the house and the senate as recommended by JAC.

HB 35: Pharmacy Benefit Manager Regulation - Bill would regulate maximum allowable cost and pharmacy audit procedures. Status - passed the house and will be heard in senate committee this week.

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 first reading in the house. 

SF 3: Permissive Preference For Veterans in Private Employment - Bill would allow private employers to giver hiring preference to veterans. Status - passed the senate and will be heard in house committee this week.

SF 65: Patent Trolling -  Bill prohibits bad faith assertion of patent infringement. Status - passed second reading in the senate.

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 second reading in the senate.

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.  Status - Senator Bernadine Craft proposed a 3rd reading budget amendment to expand Medicaid in Wyoming. Despite a significant effort to turn the tides, the amendment failed on a 20-10 vote.

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 - passed the senate and will be heard for first reading in the house this week.

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 second reading in the senate.

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 first reading in the house.

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