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Lawmakers vote down statewide lodging tax

The Wyoming Senate resoundingly rejected the proposed statewide lodging tax, which would have created an independent funding source for the state’s Office of Tourism and — possibly — salvaged a system many Teton County residents deem destructive.

Though the tax breezed through the Wyoming House, the fiscally conservative Senate quashed it Monday in a 19-7 vote. It would have imposed a 5 percent tax on lodging services across Wyoming, with 2 percent going to local governments and the rest to the state’s tourism arm.

House Bill 66 was also the vessel for local lawmakers’ improvements to the lodging tax, which they promised to fight for while defending Teton County’s local tax in the November election. With the bill dies an amendment from Rep. Andy Schwartz, D-Teton, that would have given town and county officials more flexibility in spending lodging tax revenue to mitigate visitor impacts.

As it stands, Teton County is allowed 40 percent of its revenue for mitigation, and the other 60 percent is designated for promoting Jackson Hole. It appears that status quo will remain.

— Cody Cottier, Jackson Hole Daily

Public Lands Day close to reality

A Teton County lawmaker’s attempt to create a state holiday celebrating Wyoming’s public lands is nearing the end of its legislative journey.

House Bill 99 cleared the Senate on Monday by a close vote of 16-13. If the final steps of approval go smoothly, the state will observe “Wyoming Multiple Use of Public Lands Day” on the fourth Saturday in September, paralleling the federal holiday.

“It’s a big deal nationally,” said Andy Schwartz, D-Teton, the bill’s sponsor. “I think it’s a really good idea for Wyoming to get involved in it.”

The clunky addition of “multiple use” hints at a wider range of applications — like mining, logging and livestock grazing — than the environment- and recreation-oriented National Public Lands Day, during which hundreds of thousands of people volunteer at national parks and other federal lands.

The amendment came from Rep. David Miller, R-Fremont, who as majority leader of the House of Representatives declined to hear a similar bill in 2018, effectively killing it.

— Cody Cottier, Jackson Hole Daily

Contact Cody Cottier at 732-5911, town@jhnewsandguide.com or @JHNGtown.

Cody Cottier covers town and state government. He grew up with a view of the Olympic Mountains, and after graduating Washington State University he traded it for a view of the Tetons. Odds are the mountains are where you’ll find him when not on deadline.

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