Lodging Tax Bill HB0066 Died on Third Reading in the Senate Today (Feb 25, 2019)
by Brenda Mongold

That was close. There were a lot of great arguments against this bill, several angles on which it could have been argued – and were. Here is the angle I took:

Appropriations for the Wyoming Tourism Board, figures taken from every Budget bill and Supplemental Appropriations bill, from 2001 to 2019 add up to $398,347,220.  I spent a great portion of my weekend trying to find audits, evaluations, summaries, reports or any document that shows accountability for this significant amount of funds that the Wyoming Tourism Board is appropriated and that the Wyoming Office of Tourism spends.  I have not found a single document that accounts for the receiving and expending of these funds.

Additionally:

* While the Wyoming Tourism Board is the agency (066) who receives the appropriations;
— All budget and supplemental bills say they have zero (0) authorized employees
— There is no website for the Wyoming Tourism Board to speak of
— There is no membership list of the Wyoming Tourism Board to speak of

* At the Wyoming Office of Tourism website
— all info is outdated
— some links are dead
— some links reroute you to a porn website
— some links bring you to www.travelwyoming.com

* The travelwyoming.com website is mostly tourism info/fluff and there are no audit reports to be found anywhere.
* There are no audit reports that I can find by the WY legislative Management Audit Committee
* There are no audits reports found anywhere at the main State of Wyoming website including;
— The State Auditor’s webpage
— Administration and Information’s webpage
— Or anywhere else under the Executive Branch

This lack of accountability and lack of professionalism is breath-taking, and needs to be remedied before the Wyoming Tourism Board/Wyoming Office of Tourism takes on an even greater amount of responsibilities and revenue.

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Below is the Roll Call vote for 3rd Reading in the Senate. The ones who voted “Aye” are apparently perfectly comfortable with $398,347,220 in unaccounted funds being expended by an unaccountable state agency – with no oversight by the WY Management Audit Committee.

2/25/2019 S 3rd Reading:Failed 7-19-1-0-3

ROLL CALL
Ayes:  Senator(s) Anderson, Bebout, Coe, Gierau, Rothfuss, Scott, Von Flatern
Nays:  Senator(s) Baldwin, Biteman, Boner, Bouchard, Dockstader, Ellis, Hicks, Hutchings, James, Kinskey, Kost, Landen, Moniz, Nethercott, Pappas, Perkins Pres, Schuler, Steinmetz, Wasserburger
Excused:  Senator Agar
Conflicts:  Senator(s) Anselmi-Dalton, Case, Driskill
Ayes 7    Nays 19    Excused 1    Absent 0    Conflicts 3

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Oh, yes. One last thing – Senator Hank Coe violated WY Ethics Statutes when he voted on HB0066 Lodging Tax. Hank Coe is the President of nonprofit Cody/Yellowstone Air Improvement Resources (CYAIR). CYAIR receives lodging tax revenue directly from Park County Travel Council. See pg 3 of the 2018 Park County Travel Council Annual Report. He really should’ve taken the cue from Senators Anselmi-Dalton, Case and Driskill and recused himself as they did. Good for them! Shame on Coe!