A bill that would impose a statewide 5 percent tax on hotel and motel stays was approved in its first Senate review on Thursday.
HB 66 is set to receive a second reading Friday after senators voted 16-11 to approve it during the Senate’s “Committee of the Whole,” the full body’s first chance to review the bill.
If approved, the bill would require that money from 3 percent of the tax — about $19 million a year — go to the state Tourism Division. The division would no longer receive money from the state’s “General Fund,” its main bank account
Money from the other 2 percent would go to counties to replace income from their own lodging taxes when they expire.
Sen. Cale Case, R-Lander, tried with an amendment to eliminate the extra 2 percent tax, saying that would make hotel stays too expensive for in-state travelers.
“It’s just making it more expensive to stay around Wyoming,” he said.
But Sen. Bill Landen, R-Casper, successfully urged the Senate to kill Case’s amendment, arguing local communities should be provided with a steady source of income to promote themselves.
“That allows for local communities to have a little bit of leverage,” he said. “Let’s give it to them.”