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WRA Legislative Update - March 7, 2016
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2016 WRA LEGISLATIVE STATUS REPORT #5

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 lasted 20 working days and concluded on Friday, March 4, 2016.

All bills and the outcomes for the 2016 session may be found 
HERE

The legislature concluded the 2016 budget session late last Friday evening after working through debate over Governor Mead’s line item veto’s on the budget bill. Now, the legislature heads into the “interim” period where each of the legislative committees will meet 3 times between now and the 2017 legislative general session which will convene on January 10, 2017. The WRA board of directors and Chris Brown will be closely monitoring and participating throughout the interim. As legislative issues evolve throughout the year the WRA will actively keep members involved and informed.

Thank you very much to all of the WRA members that participated in the legislative process this session. Your voice truly does make a difference. After months of work we were successful in getting the Maximum Allowable Cost and Pharmacy Audit bill passed. We were able to help get the preference for hiring veterans bill passed as well. We assisted in the passage of the Joint Appropriations Committee recommended budget for the Wyoming Office of Tourism despite 3 separate attempts to cut it. We were successful in removing the sunset on the exemption of gift cards and certificates from unclaimed property and passing a bill that prohibits bad faith assertion of patent infringement. We were able to defeat the proposed minimum wage/tipped minimum wage increase and also the effort to prohibit employers from inquiring about prospective employees criminal background. It is the voice and action of the WRA membership that makes the biggest impact on advancing our legislative agenda and we sincerely appreciate your efforts.

2016 Election - The importance of the 2016 Wyoming statewide election cannot be overstated. All 60 members of the Wyoming House of Representatives and 15 (half) of the Wyoming Senate are up for reelection. Who is your legislator? Do they actively support Wyoming’s retail industry both statewide and in your community? It is imperative that the members of the Wyoming Retail Association know who is running and if they align with our legislative priorities. If they do, please consider taking the time to assist them in their reelection efforts. This can be as simple as helping them find places to put their yard signs and by going door to door with them. Elections in Wyoming are a grassroots, door-to-door effort with the outcomes frequently determined by only a handful of votes. We absolutely cannot afford to sit back and hope that the elections yield representatives and senators that align with our priorities. Please share any information you have about supportive candidates from your communities with Chris Brown or WRA President Claudia Urlaub and please keep an eye out for additional communication as the elections draw closer.

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 both chambers and has been signed by the Governor.

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 both chambers and headed to the Governor for signature. 

SF 3: Permissive Preference For Veterans in Private Employment - Bill would allow private employers to giver hiring preference to veterans. Status - passed both chambers and headed to the Governor for signature.

SF 65: Patent Trolling -  Bill prohibits bad faith assertion of patent infringement. Status - passed both chambers and headed to the Governor for signature.

BILLS WRA IS MONITORING

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 both chambers and headed to the Governor for signature.

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 both chambers and Governor has signed.

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.

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.

HB 68: Daylight Savings Time - Bill would have removed Wyoming from participating in daylight savings time. Status - was not considered for introduction.

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 - did not make cut off to pass out of senate committee.

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.

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 through the senate and house committee.

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