IAAPA Public Affairs: U.S. Congress and State Legislatures are back in session

By | January 12, 2023

It’s just over a week into the new year and the Republican-led House has begun the business of legislating and 46 states are in – or preparing for – their 2023 legislative sessions. In other words, IAAPA Public Affairs has already hit the ground running.

History shows that the return of divided government in Washington, D.C., will put added pressure on state legislatures around the country to address what are typically considered federal issues, in addition to addressing state-centric issues. For that reason, we anticipate the volume of state and local legislative activity to surpass 2022 record levels.

2023 State Legislative Preview

42 state legislatures around the country will begin some form of formal legislative session this week – either ceremonial, organizational, or legislating – while another 9 legislatures have opened up bill pre-filing requirements. Click here for up-to-date information on your state legislature’s 2023 legislative session.

You can expect to see many common issues addressed by state legislatures. Topping that list is mitigating economic concerns, such as lingering inflation pressures. Numerous states are debating how to use surplus funds either to bulk up their reserve funds, cut taxes, or send out taxpayer rebates

Another priority is alleviating ongoing workforce challenges. Expect to see states pass a variety of reforms including, new apprenticeship programs, streamlining and expanding career and technical education programs, reduced licensure requirements, and integrating education curriculum with local industries to better recruit workers. For example, states like Colorado and Vermont have already started preliminary budget talks that will see increased workforce development resources.

A specific attractions related workforce issue we will be engaged in is ride operator age requirements. Currently, only Texas has introduced legislation related to ride operator ages. But we expect to see other states propose new legislation or reintroduce past bills that were not successful in 2022. IAAPA will join these discussions to highlight the attractions industry’s ongoing needs in the broader workforce environment as well as our unique needs for those in the high-skilled trades.

Expect to also see infrastructure spending, health care access, and civil rights related issues be debated.

2023 Multi-State Priorities

Many states have already begun working on bills pertaining to the attractions industry. Issues like employee leave (22 bills), ride safety legislation/ride operator age requirements (3 bills), and laws aimed at amusement parks or amusement devices (3 bills). This image shows the current IAAPA priority legislation breakdown. Click the image to stay current as more bills are added to our priority list.

We are engaging on these issues, working in partnership with our state and regional attraction association partners and other impacted travel and tourism partners.

Additionally, Public Affairs is moving forward on two priority initiatives. Currently, only 3 states – Alabama, Montana, and Wyoming – lack some form of ride safety legislation in statute. We are laying the foundation in Alabama and Montana in an effort to introduce legislation that provides effective ride safety standards. Look for more information on these initiatives in future updates.

Minimum Wage Continues to Rise

Currently, almost 20 state legislatures are considering minimum wage legislation. Click here to see if your state has a minimum wage bill and check back to see if it progresses through your legislature. As we monitor those bills, this map provides a nationwide look at whether your state minimum wage will increase or not this year. In 2023, we will see 27 states increase their minimum wages, either by statute or political referendum. Four states will have a statewide $15 an hour or more minimum wage: California, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Washington. Parts of New York will also have a $15 minimum wage.

Public Affairs Enters New Partnership with MultiState

We have entered into a new partnership with MultiState to monitor and track proposed legislation and regulations around the country that may impact the attractions industry. In addition to providing our team with real time legislative intelligence, we will be rolling out new map and issue-based tracking tools that members and our state and regional attractions association partners can use too. A few of their products are linked throughout this update, but check future emails as we roll out more tools and resources.