By Tyler Lindholm
Two weeks into the 64th Legislative Session in Wyoming and the rust is starting to shake off. We may not be professional legislators (we prefer to be called a citizen legislature), but when it’s time to work, I don’t believe any state gets after it quite like Wyoming does.
Fun fact for the week: we have the shortest legislative session in the nation.
A bark beetle mitigation funding homerun has turned into a floor fight in the Wyoming House due to low revenues and the use of fire suppression funds. We were able to squeak by with a win and send the bill to the Senate, but it should not be that close of a call to take care of our public lands.
For many, if not most, Wyoming people, our landscape and vistas are essential to our quality of life. It is Wyoming’s abundance of natural beauty and access to outdoor adventures that explain why many of us call it home.
How our land is managed and the strings attached to its management impact recreationists, hunters and anglers, agriculture, energy development and tourism. For the Black Hills to remain timbered, conservation and consistent management of our forests must be a priority.
An online sales tax proposal was seen in the House and was passed 48-12 on 3rd reading. This piece of legislation seeks to collect sales tax from online retailers, which will help level the playing field for traditional brick and mortar retailers that already have to collect a sales tax.
Last week, Amazon volunteered to start collecting for Wyoming under existing statute and should start delivering on collected sales tax in March. Other states have passed similar legislation, and some of these states have been sued by online retailers for their efforts….not exactly an ideal situation to jump into.
Considering the pending lawsuits and the largest online retailer in the US already voluntarily collecting for us, I voted against the proposal.
A piece of legislation currently gaining traction is a tobacco tax. The bill would look to double our current tax rate on tobacco.
While this is seems bad from the face value, I can assure you it is much worse. Such legislation would gut punch some of our communities by putting our tobacco tax on equal footing with South Dakota.
Essentially, it would no longer benefit our neighbors to the east to purchase their products in Crook or Weston County. In times of economic hardship, we should not look to cripple small business by eliminating a foothold our businesses have over others.
“Real patriotism is a willingness to challenge the government when it’s wrong” – Ron Paul