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June 2017 Legislative Update

The Wyoming Retail Association monitors and engages in all business related legislative issues at the state and federal level, to protect and promote Wyoming’s retail industry. As Wyoming continues to grapple with a $400 million education-funding deficit, the Wyoming Legislature will continue to explore all options to offset the shortfall. Your association is monitoring and participating in these discussions as we head towards the 2018 Legislative Budget Session, set to convene on February 12, 2018.

Federal Issues

Swipe Fee’s: The National Retail Federation, Retail Industry Leaders of America and the WRA along with many other state trade associations earned a hard fought victory last week when House Financial Services Committee Chairman Jeb Hensarling removed the provision of the Financial CHOICE Act that would have repealed debit swipe-fee protections. Thank you very much to the WRA members that lobbied our congressional delegation to protect the swipe fee protections!

Health Care: In May the House passed the American Health Care Act, 217-213. This vote was an important first step in improving our entire health care system, and sets the stage for Congress to take further steps to address our industry’s ongoing issues with the employer mandate – such as seasonal-worker guidelines, the 30-hour rule and employer reporting rules.

Senate Republican leaders are working to finalize decisions on legislation that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), with the goal of voting on this legislation late next week before Congress begins its July Fourth recess. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) indicated today he expects that a discussion draft of the Senate ACA repeal bill will be available on Thursday.

Travel Ban Ruling: The Trump Administration filed an appeal last Thursday asking the Supreme Court to consider the legality of the President’s executive order that blocks entry of nationals from six Muslim-majority countries. Previously, the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled to maintain a nationwide preliminary injunction blocking key elements of the executive order. The Administration is now asking the Supreme Court to both decide on whether to hear the appeal before leaving for recess at the end of June and to reinstate the travel ban in the interim. Travel- and tourism-related associations met last week to discuss the ruling, and the best ways to reach out to Administration about the impact of the ban on travel and tourism. We continue to support strong border security measures that protect Americans while balancing the important economic contributions travel and tourism provide, especially with regard to our industry in Wyoming.

Budget: President Trump's proposed federal budget would eliminate the U.S.'s investment in Brand USA, the international travel-marketing arm of the United States. In the past four years, Brand USA generated an additional 4.3 million visitors from other countries, which added $29.5 billion to our economy. Not only that, Brand USA adds an average of 50,900 new U.S.-based jobs annually as a result of the increases in international travelers to the U.S. Most importantly, it doesn't spend a dime of federal taxpayer dollars. Congress basically ignored Presidents Trumps proposed cuts and funded the budget through September. Even though most all sources report that Trumps budget will not pass as written, we are monitoring it closely.

State Issues

Online Sales Tax Collection
On July 1, 2017 all online retailers selling into Wyoming with more than $100,000 in annual sales or more than 200 transactions annually will have to begin collecting and remitting sales tax, just like their Main Street counterparts. The passage of HB-19 Sales From Remote Sellers was a significant victory for the Wyoming Retail Association and for Main Street Retailers across our state. IN speaking with the Wyoming Dept. of Revenue a number of online businesses are now collecting and remitting Wyoming taxes. We have also learned of a threatened lawsuit over the bill and will keep the WRA membership posted as the effective date draws near.

Pharmacy
During the 2017 Legislative General Session the Wyoming Pharmacy Act was amended and updated in numerous chapters. The proposed language related to bio similar was problematic for WRA pharmacy members. We were able to work with the bill sponsor and other interested parties to have the bio similar language removed with an agreement that we would work with the Wyoming Board of Pharmacy on agreeable language to be proposed for the 2018 session. Proposed draft language has been sent out to WRA Pharmacy members for comments. The Wyoming Board of Pharmacy was originally going to discuss the issue at their June meetings but they have postponed the biosimilar discussion until their September meetings to be held in Laramie.

Joint Revenue Committee-Interim
The Joint Revenue Committee met in Saratoga last month to begin the process of generating revenue ideas to help offset the current economic downturn our state is enduring. The committee has been tasked with generating between $100 million and $300 million in new revenue for the upcoming 2018 budget session. They reviewed the tax structure of surrounding states and plan to revisit “Tax Reform 2000”- a comprehensive review of our tax structure that was generated the last time Wyoming was in a significant economic downturn, later this summer. Chairman Ray Peterson let the audience in attendance know that for their September meeting (Buffalo, WY Sept 11-12, 2017) the committee plans to consider a variety of options including increasing the state sales tax, removing tax exemptions, increasing taxes on alcohol and tobacco, corporate/business taxes and gross receipts tax.

As the standing legislative committees continue to meet throughout the interim, the Wyoming Retail Association will be engaged throughout the entire process. Please watch the monthly e-newsletter closely to stay informed as the legislature continues to seek solutions to our existing budgetary deficit.

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