A measure that would create a new statewide lodging tax to pay for the promotion of Wyoming’s tourism industry was approved by a House committee on Monday and is headed for its first full review in the House.
HB 66 won unanimous approval from the Minerals, Business and Economic Development Committee, sending it to the House floor for its first full review before the entire chamber.
The bill would impose a new statewide lodging tax of 5 percent to be paid by people staying in hotels and motels.
Revenues from 3 percent of the tax, estimated at $19 million per year, would be used to pay for the operations of the Wyoming Tourism Division. The division is now funded from the state’s main bank account, also called its “General Fund.”
Revenues from the other 2 percent of the tax would be divvied up among the state’s counties for use in promoting their own tourism industries.
The bill would also reduce the maximum lodging tax imposed at the county level from 4 percent to 2 percent.
The statewide tax would guarantee counties a tourism promotion income and give them the option of voting on whether to impose the extra 2 percent tax at the county level, said Chris Brown, executive director of the Wyoming Restaurant and Lodging Association.
“So when the time period that was currently voted on expires this (statewide) 2 percent would kick in and be guaranteed at the local level,” he said. “The beauty of that is for places like Laramie County, where there’s a 4 percent lodging tax. Now there’s 2 percent guaranteed and when their vote comes back up here every four years, they can still vote on the additional (local) 2 percent.
In other action at the Legislature, representatives approved a bill that would boost the expense payments provided legislators when they are at work on legislative business by $40, to $149 a day. HB 38 now heads to the Senate for its review.