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WRA Legislative Update - October 2016
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Legislative Update October 2016

 

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 Main Street 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.  WRA Executive Director Chris Brown met with Governor Mead last month to initiate discussions about the proposed legislation.  The Joint Revenue Committee met in September and agreed to have staff draft a bill similar to the one passed earlier this year in South Dakota.  The bill will be considered at the November 17-18, 2016 interim meetings in Cheyenne and Chris Brown will be reaching out to local retailers to testify in support of the proposed legislation. 

Wyoming Biennium Budget- The continued economic downturn in Wyoming’s energy sector has resulted in an additional $248 million shortfall.  Earlier this summer Governor Mead directed state agencies to cut 8% of their biennium budgets, which began on July 1, 2016. The Joint Appropriations Committee met in Cheyenne in July 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. Governor Mead has since notified state agencies that there will not be any supplemental budget requests for the upcoming 2017 general session.  While he also noted that there will not be any additional cuts between now and the start of the session, he notified state agencies to anticipate the possibility of additional cuts from the legislature. 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 this month. 

Joint Employer- The Wyoming Retail Association is currently working with Senator Ogden Driskill 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.

Tobacco Taxes- The Joint Revenue Committee considered raising the taxes on tobacco products.  The initiative was defeated at their committee meeting last month.   The WRA has a standing position opposing taxes focused on individual products and opposed this proposed increase.

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 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