Rep. Liz Storer is the Freshman lawmaker behind the revival of a property tax bill that passed the legislature Thursday. SJ 3, which still needs to be singed by the governor, will ask voters to amend the constitution to allow residential property to be taxed at a different, presumably lower rate.
In 2024, the next general election, Wyoming voters will likely decide if their homes can be taxed at a different rate than corporations and industries.
Calling it the No. 1 issue this election cycle, state legislators passed a property tax reform resolution during the last few days of lawmaking in Cheyenne this year.
Teton County lawmakers were at the front of that charge. Senate Joint Resolution 3 was introduced by Sen. Dan Dockstader and co-sponsored by Rep. Andrew Byron, both Republicans who represent parts of Teton County.
Rep. Liz Storer reshaped that bill with an idea introduced last year by fellow Teton County Democrat Rep. Mike Yin.
Originally, Dockstader’s SJ 3 was aimed at getting a constitutional amendment on the ballot that, if passed, would give lawmakers power to tax the “elderly and infirm” at a different, presumably lower rate.
As written in the state’s Constitution, Wyoming’s property is taxed in three groups: land used for minerals and mining, industry, and “all other.” Homes fall under the category of “all other,” which includes property used by international corporations.
Before Thursday, the only bill to create relief for sharply rising property taxes made refunds more available for qualifying homeowners. Signed by Gov. Mark Gordon this week, House Bill 99 was popular for its expansion of a program that already exists. But it stood alone, as all other bills to reform taxes in the long run had died.
Storer started pitching other lawmakers last week to revive language from a dead bill and put it into the living SJ 3.
Technically, said Storer, lawmakers already had the power to do what Dockstader’s bill proposed. Other House members were struggling with how to define “infirm.”
Storer’s amendment took language from House Speaker Albert Sommers’ bill to pull out residential property as its own class, to presumably have lawmakers write legislation to tax it at a lower rate. That idea was also floated by Yin in 2022.
The amended SJ 3 passed the House on Tuesday and squeaked by the Senate on Thursday with the higher bar of a two-thirds vote needed for lawmakers to put a constitutional amendment on the ballot.
“Right now all of our homes are lumped in with the biggest corporations in the world,” said Rep. Steve Harshman, a Natrona County Republican. “We’re one of the few states that doesn’t separate residential.”
Sounds like a good start.
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