Among Democrat Michael Scott Weiland's reasons for running is a concern that Zwonitzer has sponsored bills that benefit his businesses, he said.
Weiland filed Nov. 27 with the Wyoming Secretary of State’s Office; his committee is named the Committee to Elect Mike Weiland for Wyoming House District 9. He said the committee will give him a head start to raising funds. While people can file campaign committees with the secretary of state at any time, candidates for the 2014 general election cannot officially file for office until May 15.
Weiland, 57, has never run for office, although he said he has helped on campaigns. He will soon retire from his job and wants to work hard to serve Wyoming, he said.
Work brought Weiland to the Cowboy State in 1986. He has a bachelor’s degree in meteorology from Metropolitan State University in Denver. He has two adult children.
Weiland has agreed with some bills sponsored by Zwonitzer, in particular the bill that allowed the creation of a lottery in Wyoming. He also likes how his opponent doesn’t always vote along Republican Party lines, he said.
“But he is a small business owner, which is fine, but a lot of the bills he has supported benefit him,” Weiland said.
Specifically, Weiland was disappointed that this opponent voted in favor of bill, which became law July 1, that allowed employers to not pay out accrued vacation time when they terminate an employee. He also disagreed with a bill Zwonitzer sponsored in 2011 that passed and gives companies and individuals who pay sales and use taxes a credit for up to $500 each month, based on a percentage of tax due.
Zwonitzer, who has been in office since 2007, said he owns an auctioneering company. He used to own a furniture store but sold it last year. He defended his support of the bills.
With the vacation bill, Zwonitzer said it doesn’t apply to all employees. It only applies to employees whose companies had them sign an agreement that they understand they would lose their vacation if terminated, he said.
With the sales tax bill, Zwonitzer said it helps small businesses that get dinged by credit card fees. Larger businesses, such as Walmart, send in taxes differently and don't benefit from the bill, he said.
“Visa and MasterCard charge 2 to 3 percent,” he said. “We still have to pay sales on that. Even though I make $100 in sales, I technically only net $97 because the credit card company keeps 3 percent. But I have to pay sales tax on that 3 percent.”
Other issues important to Weiland include increasing the use of renewable energy in Wyoming, not only for environmental reasons but to diversify the state’s economy. He also wants to increase the amount of money the state spends on roads, he said.
He believes the Wyoming Legislature has too many Republicans.
“We’re so solidly one party. I think we need some different views,” he said.