Legislative Report for February 27th, 2024

Legislative Report for February 27th, 2024

House Chamber during the morning session in the 2023 legislative session. Photo by Michael Smith

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Representative Steve Harshman’s House Bill 203, a widely discussed topic in this budget session, was faced with significant amendments on Monday. Originally, the bill aimed to forgive $1 million in fair market value from residential properties, including most homes in Wyoming. However, Representative Dan Zwonitzer successfully passed an amendment reducing the deferral to $200,000, significantly decreasing the number of homes eligible for complete property tax elimination.

Zwonitzer’s amendment also lowered the proposed sales tax increase from 2% to 1%, positioning it as a compromise between protecting property tax revenues and providing homeowners with a tax break. The amended version passed with a 34-27 vote.
While some members of the Wyoming Freedom Caucus supported the sales tax reduction, there was reluctance to support an 80% reduction in the fair market value exemption. Representative Ben Hornok highlighted the significance of the 1% sales tax increase in generating revenue.

During the negotiations, there was a moment when Representative Cody Wylie of Rock Springs requested the bill to be postponed indefinitely, but after a brief discussion, he decided to rescind the motion.

Various amendments were proposed, including one by Representative Jeanette Ward to maintain the $1 million exemption until 2034, which failed. Other changes included delaying the implementation of HB 203 until 2025 and setting a sunset date for 2027. Representative Bill Allemand spoke against the delay, emphasizing the immediate relief needed by Wyoming taxpayers.

Despite concerns about potential home losses, Harshman expressed a willingness to explore a delayed rollout, emphasizing the need for continuous efforts instead of postponing decisions. Additional amendments, including one proposing tax exemptions for outbuildings and agricultural land, were also discussed.

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