Friday, February 3, 2017

Who Is Wyoming's Biggest Tax Hiker?

Update: Representative Laursen has responded to this article. His comment is posted, unedited, at the end. 

Of our 60 State Representatives and 30 Senators, who is most eager to raise your taxes? To answer this question I reviewed House Bills and Senate Files that propose some kind of tax increase. The definition of a tax increase is:
  • a higher rate on an existing tax; 
  • the introduction of a new tax; or 
  • the expansion of the base for an existing tax (such as forcing land owners to count previously tax-exempt land as taxable property).
I picked out the bills for this session that propose any form of tax increase, then counted the sponsors and made a list of who wants to raise our taxes the most. The result is reported below.
Starting with the bills, there are 14 that distinctly propose some kind of tax increase. With the reservation that I may have overlooked some tax-hiking bill (try read 485 legislative bills without falling asleep, then say "Hickory Bill Hates Tax Hikes" three times and win big money...) below is a list of the 14 that want more of your money to pay for our "bare bones" government. They have all been selected on what they propose; at this point it is more important to document what policies our legislators want to pursue, than what the legislature actually ends up doing. For the record, though, the current status of each bill is included:

HB12 - Tax exemption repeals; referred to Revenue;
HB54 - Taxable value of agricultural land; Failed;
HB67 - Determination of agricultural land for taxation; referred to Revenue;
HB82 - Local optional sales and use taxes; referred to Revenue;
HB102 - Lodging tax rate; referred to Revenue;
HB127 - Wind energy production tax; referred to Revenue;
HB151 - Cigarette tax; received for introduction;
HB162 - Property tax assessment rate; placed on General File;
HB168 - Tobacco tax; referred to Revenue;
HB274 - Alcohol excise tax; referred to Revenue;
HB290 - State lodging tax; referred to Revenue;
HJ7 - Property tax for school facilities; referred to Revenue;
SF131 - State revenues and expenditure review; Passed, Senate Committee of the Whole;
SF148 - Agricultural tax valuation, farmstead; Passed, Senate 2nd Reading. 

So, then, who among our legislators have their names on any of these bills? Before we get to them, let me point out one slight methodical issue. When a bill is sponsored by a committee, I have made the assumption that every member of the committee is behind the bill without reservations. This may seem like a technicality, but it is nevertheless worth pointing out; if any legislator feels that he or she has been unfairly ranked, I encourage them to contact me and explain why. I publish all rebuttals unedited. 

With that in mind, here are the bill-sponsoring tax hikers of this legislative session. 

First, listed alphabetically, the legislators who support one bill (any one of the 14 above):

Representative Baldwin, HB168;
Representative Barlow, HB168;
Senator Bebout, SF131;
Representative Blackburn, HB54;
Senator Christensen, SF148;
Senator Dockstader, SF148;
Representative Eklund, SF148;
Senator Emerich, HB102;
Representative Eyre, SF148;
Representative Harshman, SF131;
Senator Henderson, HB102;
Representative Hunt, HB54;
Representative Larsen, HB290;
Representative McKim, HB54;
Senator Meier, SF148;
Representative Miller, SF131;
Senator Nethercott, SF148;
Representative Nicholas, HB168;
Representative Olsen, SF148;
Representative Pownall, SF148;
Senator Scott, HB168;
Representative Sommers, SF148;
Representative Sweeney, SF148;
Senator von Flatern, SF131;
Representative Zwonitzer, HB54.

Now we get to those who sponsor any two of the 14 tax-hike bills:

Representative Allen, HB 54 and SF148;
Representative Blake, HB54 and HB102;
Senator Driskill, HB54 and SF148;
Senator Ellis, HB12 and HB82;
Representative Hallinan, HB12 and HB82;
Senator Hicks, HB54 and SF148;
Senator Kinskey, SF12 and SF82;
Representative Lindholm, HB54 and SF148;
Representative Obermueller, HB12 and HB82;
Senator Wasserburger, HB12 and HB82.

Seven legislators sponsor three tax-hike bills:

Senator Case, HB12, HB82 and HB127;
Representative Dayton, HB12, HB82 and HB168;
Representative Furphy, HB12, HB82 and HB168;
Representative Kinner, HB12, HB82 and HB168;
Representative Paxton, HB12, HB82 and HB168;
Senator Peterson, HB12, HB82 and HB168.

Two legislators put their names on four tax-hike bills:

Representative Cathy Connolly of House District 13: 
HB12, HB82, HB168 and HJ7; and
Representative Dan Laursen of House District 25: 
HB12, HB54, HB82 and HB290.

And - now it is time for the winner... the one legislator, the One of the Ninety, who is sponsoring more bills to raise your taxes than anyone else... the lawmaker whose name appears on not five, not six, not seven, but... wait for it... a total of EIGHT BILLS to raise your taxes!

The winner of the 2017 Cowboy State Most Prolific Tax Hiker's Award is...


The distinguished legislator from House District 40 is the sponsor of HB12, HB67, HB82, HB102, HB127, HB151, HB162 and HB168.
Congratulations, Representative TaxMadden! We are all very impressed. 
Update - Reply to this article from Representative Laursen:

Thanks for your comments. I do have to push back and inform you I was not part of Revenue Interim committee and pretty tough to tie me to those bills. In HB54 the intent was to lower some land’s, smaller acreages specifically, property taxes paid by bringing them into ag land. So this bill did not raise taxes, that is why county assessors were not in favor of it. You did get me on HB290.



  1. Sven, there are several kinds of payments are are really taxes, but called by another name. I see that some first year members of the WY Legislature are eager to raise what would be pennies to the state, but might raise a yearly fee to do business by as much as 300%. It is a strange political Session. The tax on cigarettes was defeated, but had to be resurrected because it was already profiled on the budget bill.

  2. Posted on behalf of Darryl Szymanski.
    U.S. Federal vs. Wyoming Economic Model Comparisons for 2017

    The Donald J. Trump and Mike R. Pence economic free market prosperity model: Federal income tax cuts for individuals and corporations= less taxes to collect = fewer IRS agents employed = less gov to fund = more Wealth for Taxpayers = more discretionary income to spend and invest = stimulation of business start-ups and existing business growth = more products and services being consumed and brought to market = increase in tax revenues and employment = increased infrastructure projects opened = increased private-sector employment growth = a more robust, sustainable and thriving economy = a more tranquil People doing what they do best, Innovate and Create!

    The Matt Mead and WY Legislature economic redistribution hardship model: WY tax increases= more taxes to collect = additional revenue staff to employ = more gov to fund = increased Extraction of Taxpayer wealth = less discretionary income to spend or invest = fewer products and services being consumed or brought to market = slowdown in business start-ups and or increased closures and failures = decrease in tax revenues and employment = fewer infrastructure projects funded = fewer private-sector jobs created = a waning or stagnant economy = a less tranquil People dependent upon the gov dole without initiative and a burden on the backs of the few Producers who yet remain!

    Which one is best? Go ahead, you be the judge!

    Respectfully, Darryl Szymanski 1451 Omarr Ave Sheridan, WY 82801 307-674-6025