Wyoming State Liquor Association Final Report: Legislature, 2003
It was an amazing year! 476 bills were introduced this year, and more than 220 successfully made it into law. It was also a very successful year for our Association. We had many victories that will save you money in coming years and we stopped, or changed, the most ominous bills that would have affected our industry. As always, we salute our membership for the support; perhaps at no other time is the importance of the WSLA so acutely felt than after a Legislative Session. As always, if you have any questions, please call or e–mail us at the office.
Thanks again, Mike Moser
Some of the hot issues the WSLA dealt with in the 2003 Session:
A continuation of a successful WSLA program became law with HB 260 (Alcohol server training program) which empowers the Wyoming Department of Revenue Liquor Division to fund and contract a state–wide alcohol server training program. This program will be taught on a voluntary basis throughout Wyoming. This bill was partially the inspiration of the TIPS program conducted by the WSLA that trained 1600 people in 16 months and will furnish the ability for this type of program to continue indefinitely. WSLA supported. Signed by the Governor into law.
An attempt to raise the excise tax on beer (HB 12 – Malt beverage excise tax) would have quadrupled the Wyoming malt beverage excise tax to one and one half cents a liter. The WSLA, with the Wyoming Malt Beverage Wholesaler’s Association, successfully worked to defeat this regressive tax. WSLA opposed. Killed in the House Revenue Committee.
One of the most ominous bills in the Session was HB 128(Sobriety checkpoints) which would have allowed Wyoming law enforcement to set up temporary roadblocks to determine if individuals are driving under the influence of alcohol. These roadblocks are already being used in other states and are being pushed by MADD. The WSLA strongly opposes these as targeting the social drinker and not an effective form of law enforcement. WSLA opposed. Died without Committee Action.
A bill that will decrease your Unemployment Insurance rates (HB 65 – Unemployment insurance – tax operations) will create changes for Wyoming employers such as changing disqualification provisions for benefits. The WSLA successfully worked to have the bill amended to include a 14 1/2% discount for all Wyoming employers for 2004. This is lower than the 25% of 2003, but as big as the fund could handle. The original bill, before the amendment, would have just granted the UI discounts for employers with higher paid, or full–time, employees. WSLA supported. Signed by the Governor into law.
The WSLA worked to defeat two bills to raise Wyoming minimum wage – SF 119 (Minimum Wage) would increase the minimum wage in Wyoming from $5.15 to $6.00 an hour and HB 257 (Minimum wage for tipped employees) would have almost the doubled the minimum wage for tipped employees from $2.13 to $4.00 an hour. WSLA opposed. SF 119 was killed in the Senate Labor Committee and HB 257 was killed in the House Labor Committee.
Mandates that would raise Health Insurance rates was successfully opposed by the WSLA; HB 109 – Mental health insurance parity would have mandated health insurance coverage for biologically based mental illnesses, and HB 227, which would have mandated coverage of contraceptives. Both bills, although well intentioned, would increase your health insurance rates. WSLA opposed. Killed in the House Corporations Committee.
Yes, a cigarette tax passed; but it could have been worse. HB 110 – Cigarette tax – 2 raised the per pack excise tax on cigarettes 48 cents from 12 to 60 cents after an amendment lowered it from a 60 cent increase. Surrounding states like Colorado, Montana, Utah, and South Dakota are currently working on even higher taxes so at least our competitive disadvantage will be short-lived. On other tobacco tax issues, HB 62 (Tobacco taxes) which would have raised the per pack excise tax on cigarettes from 12 cents to 60 cents and HB 63 (Tobacco taxes – 2) which would have raised the tax on non-cigarette tobacco by imposing an additional 10% on the wholesale purchase price or an additional 5% on the retail price were both killed in Committee.
Other bills the WSLA worked in the 2003 Legislature
HB 255 – Tobacco vendors – reporting requires retailers to report if they sell tobacco on sales tax reports. WSLA monitored. Passed into law
SF 7 – Food safety – license revocations provides regulations for food license revocations and the proceedings for revocations; it was endorsed by the Governor’s Food Safety Council. WSLA monitored. Passed into law
HB 265 – Special event liquor permit would have allowed approved nonprofit organizations to have locations for the free distribution of promotional liquor. WSLA opposed. HB 265 was killed.
HB 290 – Alcohol – special permits would have allowed public notice or hearings for the issuance of a malt beverage or catering permits. WSLA opposed. HB 290 died.