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Revenue

HB 66: Lodging tax

This bill would create a permanent statewide 5 percent lodging tax. Though many Teton County residents despise the tax, local lawmakers added an amendment they believe will lessen its impact. See page 16A.

HB 67: Sales tax revisions

This bill, currently in the Appropriations Committee, would repeal sales tax exemptions on a list of services and products, including groceries. It would also reduce the sales tax rate from 4 percent to 3.5 percent, making the tax essentially revenue-neutral. The grocery tax is likely to be a sticking point.

Local control

HB 51: Lawful fence standards — county preemption

One of several bills that would chip away at local control, this legislation would remove counties’ authority to regulate fences, some of which Teton County requires to be “wildlife friendly.” After two weeks without progress, it was referred Tuesday to the Agriculture, State and Public Lands and Water Resources Committee.

HB 196: Local regulation — subdivisions

Another jab at local control, this bill would limit the authority of county officials to regulate lot sizes. It was referred to the Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee on Friday. See cover story.

SF 49: County zoning authority — private schools

This controversial bill, which originated with Jackson Hole Classical Academy, would strip counties’ zoning power over private schools. It’s making headway in the Senate. With one reading left, it’s likely to pass the chamber and head to the House. See page 14A.

Labor

HB 200: Wyoming pregnant workers fairness act

This bill, referred to the Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee on Friday, is the first from freshman Teton County legislator Mike Yin. It would ensure employers provide reasonable accommodation for pregnant workers, and prevent them from taking any adverse action against workers on the basis of their pregnancy.

Education

SF 34: Hathaway Eligibility Act

This act, co-sponsored by Teton County Sen. Mike Gierau, would repeal a provision that excludes certain noncitizens from the University of Wyoming’s Hathaway scholarship eligibility. However, Gierau has put it on hold for now and hopes to achieve the same results through other means. He’s unsure whether he’ll bring it back this session.

SF 64: School safety and security

Sen. Affie Ellis, a Jackson Hole High School graduate, is spearheading this effort to set a baseline for school safety and security. The bill would require school districts to develop comprehensive safety and security plans and toughen accountability for those who pass school buses unlawfully. The Senate approved it on second reading Tuesday.

Crime

SF 33: Animal cruelty penalties

Teton County Sen. Mike Gierau’s second attempt to increase the penalties for violating animal cruelty laws died in the Senate on Jan. 15 by a vote of 7-21. The bill, which also failed in 2018, would have doubled the fines.

SF 72: Sexual assault biological evidence reporting

This bill, which cleared the Senate Tuesday, would require police to report the number and status of rape kits they process. It would also require the state to cover the cost of medical exams for rape kits, guaranteeing funding.

Voting

SF 32: Change in party affiliation

Republican efforts to prevent “crossover voting” died with this bill Tuesday, when the Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee rejected it. The bill would have restricted voters’ ability to switch parties, driven by gubernatorial runner-up Foster Friess and others who accused Democrats of using same-day party registration to interfere with the Republican election.

SF 65: Open ranked choice elections

Meanwhile, a polar opposite voting bill remains alive. It would allow people to vote for more than one candidate — and candidates from either party — in order of preference, essentially eliminating partisanship altogether from primary elections. It passed the Corporations, Elections and Political Subdivisions Committee on Tuesday and will progress to the Senate.

Environment

HJ 1: Wyoming support for grizzly bear delisting

This resolution, asking the federal government to “swiftly delist” the Yellowstone region’s grizzly bears from the Endangered Species Act, passed swiftly through the House and went to the Senate on Thursday. The legislators’ symbolic resolution is lengthy and includes a long list of reasons why Wyoming legislators believe the feds ought to delist grizzlies, including the 142 head of cattle the bears killed in 2018. The resolution even mentions the fatal grizzly bear mauling of Jackson Hole hunting outfitter Mark Uptain.

HB 99: Public Lands Day

Public Lands Day is already a national holiday, but Teton County Rep. Andy Schwartz wants to celebrate it at the state level, too. The bill went to the House on Tuesday.

Miscellaneous

SF 50: State amphibian

The blotched tiger salamander may join the ranks of the cutthroat trout and western meadowlark as an animalian symbol of Wyoming. This bill passed the Senate on Thursday (despite the best efforts of four anti-salamander senators who are perhaps in the chorus frog’s pocket), and will progress to the House.

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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