By Cowboy State Daily
A measure that would impose a statewide tax on all hotel and motel stays is headed for the Senate floor after clearing a committee on Tuesday.
HB 66, which would impose a statewide 5 percent lodging tax, won approval on a 3-1 vote from the Senate Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee. The bill now heads to the Senate floor for review by the full body.
Money from 3 percent of the tax — estimated at $19 million per year — would go to the state Tourism Division to finance its operations. The division would no longer receive funds from the state’s main banking account, the General Fund.
Revenue from the other 2 percent would be sent to communities to replace local lodging taxes when they expire.
The bill’s committee approval was welcomed by members of the tourism industry, who said Wyoming needs all the financial help it can get to lure visitors to the state.
“Montana, Colorado, Utah, they outspend us by almost double in some instances and tourism is a competitive business,” said Chris Brown, director of the Wyoming Restaurant and Lodging Association. “We’re just looking to grow our slice of the pie for Wyoming’s visitor economy.”
Committee member Sen. Lisa Anselmi-Dalton, D-Rock Springs, declared a conflict and did not vote on the bill because she owns a hotel in Rock Springs.
Anselmi-Dalton also said she is not a supporter of the tax because of the burden it puts on business owners.
“It’s a pretty heavy lift for some people,” she said. “When I put things out to bid at my hotel, (clients) say ‘This is my budget’ and I end up eating the tax.”
The vote came as legislators approached a deadline to address the bills in front of their committees. All committee work must be completed by Wednesday.