CASPER, Wyo. — The Wyoming Senate reversed their vote on a bill that aims to allow counties to save “sixth penny” sales and use taxes in reserve account on Monday, March 9.
The Senate had previously defeated House Bill 25 on a 6-22 vote on Friday. However, the Senate agreed on a 17-12 vote to reconsider the bill on Monday. They then passed the bill on a third reading vote of 18-11, reversing Friday’s decision. Monday’s third reading vote was as follows:
Ayes: ANDERSON, BALDWIN, BONER, DRISKILL, ELLIS, GIERAU, HICKS, KOST, LANDEN, MONIZ, NETHERCOTT, PAPPAS, PERKINS, ROTHFUSS, SCHULER, SCOTT, VON FLATERN, WASSERBURGER
Nays: AGAR, ANSELMI-DALTON, BEBOUT, BITEMAN, BOUCHARD, CASE, COE, DOCKSTADER, HUTCHINGS, JAMES, STEINMETZ
Excused: KINSKEYWyoming Legislative Service Office
The Senate held no discussion of the bill ahead of the reconsideration vote on the floor on Monday.
The bill aims to modify laws so that Wyoming counties can save so-called “sixth penny” special purpose sales and use taxes by placing the money collected into “rainy day” reserve funds.
Counties in Wyoming are already able to impose “sixth penny” sales and use taxes for special purpose projects. Under current rules, such special purpose taxes must go toward specifically defined project and cannot go into a reserve account.
The proposed bill would allow such “sixth penny” to go toward special projects as well as reserves.
Senate District 22 Senator Dave Kinskey offered a second reading amendment which allows a county “sixth penny” reserve account to be used as a “maintenance and sinking fund for a specific project or projects and the earnings and principal amount in the fund may be expended for the applicable project or projects.
“A reserve account…may be designated as an inviolate account to constitute a permanent or perpetual trust fund which shall be invested in a manner to obtain the highest return possible consistent with preservation of the corpus,” the amendment reads. “Any earnings from investment of the corpus of a permanent or perpetual trust fund…shall be deposited in a separate account.”
The Senate adopted that amendment. Since the Senate version of the bill differs from the version passed in the House of Representatives, the bill will return to the House for a concurrence vote.
The House passed the bill on a third reading vote of 46-14 on February 20.
Two amendments passed in the House ahead of their third reading vote.
House District 48 Representative Clark Stith proposed an amendment that would modify how the revenue generated by special purpose taxes would be distributed.
“The current draft gives the county commissioners exclusive control of that,” he said. “What this amendment would do would say that county commissioners are not going to be the sole controllers of this account.”
“This amendment restores some balance to House Bill 25. These sixth penny taxes generate lots of money. The cities will essentially have to beg the counties for money [without the amendment].
He said his amendment would stipulate that revenues would be distributed proportionally between the county and municipalities.
House District 06 Representative Aaron Clausen opposed the amendment, saying that it should be left up to individual counties to decide how such revenue is shared with municipalities.
House District 01 Representative Tyler Lindholm said that he also opposed the amendment.
“It’s not like the majority of people are living out in the rural parts of the counties,” he said. “Those voters are living in the municipalities. They are not going to vote for something that doesn’t benefit municipalities at all.”
The House adopted Stith’s amendment. They also adopted an amendment proposed by House District 31 Representative Scott Clem.
Clem’s amendment removed a provision that counties could impose a sixth penny tax exclusively for the purpose of saving money in reserves. With his amendment in place, counties would still get the new ability to place “sixth penny” revenues in reserves, but only if the tax is imposed in conjunction with a specific special purpose project as well.
“You can have this reserve account, but it has to be attached to some kind of special purpose,” Clem said.
His amendment removed stipulations in the bill on how counties could utilize reserves, instead leaving that to them to decide.
House District 06 Representative Aaron Clausen explained the bill during an introductory vote on Feb. 11.
“What this is geared for is these counties that are maybe losing a power plant or a coal mine to be able to stock some money away, similar to what we do for the Permanent Mineral Trust Fund, to help them rely less on state funds and be more self sufficient,” he said.
That so-called “trust fund” is an account which collects severances tax revenue on mineral production in the state. It was established in 1974.
The bill would have allowed counties to deposit special purpose tax revenues in similar reserve accounts. Since the bill failed in the Senate, counties will still be able to impose “sixth penny” taxes for special purpose projects, but won’t be able to save that money in reserve accounts.
The House’s third reading vote was as follows:
Ayes: BARLOW, BLAKE, BROWN, BURKHART, BURLINGAME, CLAUSEN, CLIFFORD, CONNOLLY, CRANK, DAYTON-SELMAN, DUNCAN, EKLUND, EYRE, FLITNER, FREEMAN, FURPHY, GREEAR, HALEY, HALLINAN, HENDERSON, HUNT, KINNER, HARSHMAN, KIRKBRIDE, LARSEN LLOYD, LINDHOLM, LOUCKS, MACGUIRE, NEWSOME, NICHOLAS, NORTHRUP, OBERMUELLER, OLSEN, PAXTON, PELKEY, POWNALL, ROSCOE, SCHWARTZ, SIMPSON, SOMMERS, STITH, SWEENEY, WESTERN, WILSON, YIN, ZWONITZER
Nays: BLACKBURN, CLEM, EDWARDS, GRAY, JENNINGS, LAURSEN DAN, MILLER, PIIPARINEN, SALAZAR, STYVAR, TASS, WALTERS, WASHUT, WINTER Wyoming Legislative Service Office
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This article originally appeared on Oil City News. Used with permission.