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WRA Legislative Update - August 10, 2016
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Legislative Update August 2016

 

Federal-In May, Vice President Biden Joe Biden, Labor Secretary Tom Perez and U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) announced the release of the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) final rule increasing the salary threshold for white-collar exemptions to the federal overtime pay requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act from $23,660 to $47,476. DOL also announced it will automatically increase the threshold every three years and employers will need to be in compliance with the new rule by December 1, 2016. DOL has issued a fact sheet, Q&A document, and press release on the rule; all of which can be found HERE.

This rule will negatively impact hundreds of business owners across Wyoming who may be forced to reduce hours or flexibility. The Wyoming Retail Association is partnering with the National Retail Federation and the Retail Industry Leaders of America in urging members of congress to support S. 2707 and H.R. 4773, the Protecting Workplace Advancement and Opportunity Act, which would roll back this damaging rule and force DOL to complete an economic impact study before taking any action.

In particular we are disappointed that the Labor Department did not do more to address the regional disparities inherent to such a one-size-fits-all approach. While the final rule is somewhat less extreme than the original proposal, the salary threshold still amounts to a 100% increase that would go into effect all at once in December 2016.

The WRA will continue to advocate for a more appropriate salary threshold, one that will not negatively impact our properties, our employees and the customers that we serve. We will continue to keep our members up to date as any new details unfold.

E-Fairness/Online Sales Tax Collection

Despite promised votes and action at the federal level, and despite Senator Enzi’s tremendous leadership and tireless efforts on the issue the Marketplace Fairness Act continues to sit idle while mainstreet Wyoming retailers operate at a competitive disadvantage to their online only counterparts. Earlier this year, South Dakota passed a bill requiring online retailers to collect and remit sales tax just like brick and mortar South Dakota retailers do every day. The Wyoming Retail Association is pursuing similar legislation for the 2017 Wyoming Legislative General Session. Please watch upcoming WRA e-newsletters and emails for updates and opportunities to participate in this very important legislation.

Wyoming Biennium Budget-The continued economic downturn in Wyoming’s energy sector has resulted in an additional $248 million shortfall. Governor Mead has directed state agencies to cut 8% of their biennium budgets, which began on July 1, 2016. The Joint Appropriations Committee met in Cheyenne last month and approved the cuts, avoiding the need for a special legislative session. This translated into a $2 million cut to the Wyoming Office of Tourism. The WRA will continue to closely follow all budget discussion and the next Consensus Revenue Estimate Group (CREG- the legislative group that forecasts the states revenue projection) is due out in October.

Joint Employer-The Wyoming Retail Association is currently working with legislators on a bill that will ensure Wyoming franchisors are not unfairly liable for the actions of franchisees, will prevent frivolous lawsuits, and will encourage franchisees to act responsibly. The bill would clarifies that, under Wyoming law, a franchisor is not the employer of a franchisee’s employees for a host of common employment law claims and legal actions. It will not reduce or otherwise limit employee rights in Wyoming.

Medicaid Expansion- Medicaid Expansion continues to remain in the headlines, as significant cuts to the Wyoming Dept. of Health are likely to result in hundreds of private sector job losses. We are seeing more candidates prioritizing expansion during this election cycle and The Coalition for a Healthy Wyoming continues to work diligently in education the public and those running for the Wyoming House and Senate about the need to expand Medicaid in Wyoming.

Interim-All of the standing legislative committees have been meeting and will continue to meet a total of three times between the end of the 2016 budget session and the 2017 general session. Your association is closely monitoring several liquor license discussions with the Joint Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee as they develop bills related to the amount of time a license holder can “park” a retail license and cleaning up antiquated liquor law language. The Joint Revenue Committee is hearing a significant amount of testimony related to various taxes. Tax on food, wind, and all business tax exemptions are being discussed and will continue to be a focus in the fall when the committee next meets.

Election-Absentee voting is now open in Wyoming. You do not need to wait until the August 16, 2016 primary election to participate in this year’s election. All sixty members of the Wyoming House of Representatives and fifteen (half) of the members of the Wyoming Senate are up for re-election. Additionally there are thirteen candidates running to replace retiring Congressman Cynthia Lummis for Wyoming’s lone congressional seat.. Many of the key races statewide will be decided in the primary election. As always, if you would like to know how to engage more in elections that impact your community please contact Chris Brown.

Other Issues- There will be numerous other bills potentially impacting our members once the election is over and as the January 10, 2017 legislative general session draws closer. Proposed increases to the minimum wage and a bill prohibiting employers from inquiring about an applicant’s criminal history on job applications are both likely to return this session. The Wyoming Retail Association monitors all things legislative from both a state wide and federal level, on a daily basis and will continue to keep you posted as legislative initiatives continue to develop.

 

If you have any questions, please contact Chris Brown at 307-634-8816 x 207 orchris@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