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    ''Under the Dome'' 3/12

    March 12, 2018
    An Update from the State House

    Last Week – Rallies, Snow and Testimonies
    Last week at the statehouse over one thousand people showed up on a Tuesday afternoon to
    support the right to own guns. Proponents of new gun restriction laws also were in the building;
    but what this author finds refreshing is that everyone was respectful. Individuals exercised their
    right to petition the government with dignity. Wednesday the state house closed due to weather
    forcing the Senate Labor Committee minimum wage hearing to be cancelled and rescheduled for
    Wednesday, March 14 th in Room 212 At the Rise (approximately 4:30 pm). Thursday the
    Chamber testified against a mandate to provide 13 weeks of unpaid pregnancy leave to part time
    workers (benefit is available day one of hire); against a bill that requires businesses to give 40
    hours of leave to pick up a child at school necessitated by an emergency, illness, or behavioral
    problem; and in favor of legislation to allow seasonal businesses (open less than 20 weeks a
    year) to treat seasonal employees similar to contract employees by providing a start and finish
    date and thus make them ineligible for unemployment benefits at the end of the season.

    What’s Going On This Week
    While the Senate Labor Committee takes up minimum wage bills on Wednesday, the House
    Labor Committee will take testimony on the same bills Thursday, in Room 101, At the Rise.
    H.7199 (Reps. Bennett, Craven, Ranglin-Vassell, Knight and Regunberg) raises the minimum
    wage to $11 on January 1, 2019. H.7397 (Reps. Walsh, Lombardi, Ranglin-Vassell, Hull and
    Maldonado) raises the tipped wage fifty cents per year until the tipped wage equals the state’s
    regular minimum wage. H.7636 (Reps. Ranglin-Vassell, Regunberg, Ajello, Hull and Bennett)
    incrementally raises the minimum wage to $15 by January 1, 2026. H.
    The House Committee on Environment and Natural Resources will meet Thursday in Room
    203 At the Rise. H.7827 (Reps. Handy, Regunberg, McKiernan Barros and Williams) creates
    what is called the Rhode Island Global Warming Solutions Act. Its stated purpose is to “create a
    fair, workable, cost-effective, legally enforceable, system by which Rhode Island will be able to
    reduce its economy-wide carbon emissions by at least eighty percent (80%) below 1990 levels by
    2050. It achieves this goal by directing the Commissioner of the Office of Energy Resources to
    adopt, within one year of the effective date, “mandatory and enforceable regulations that the
    commissioner believes are reasonably necessary to achieve” the emissions requirement for
    electricity generators and indirect electricity users. The Commissioner must consult with other
    agencies to develop the regulations. The Department of Transportation is charged with
    performing the same task for the transportation emissions that come from personal vehicles,
    trucks, etc. The Director must meet the 80% emissions reduction regardless of the expense,
    science or mandates that might be necessary. This is truly the most difficult piece of the
    legislation in that it would, in reality, require Rhode Islanders to reduce driving or purchase

    electric vehicles (although a large majority of Rhode Island electricity is generated by natural
    gas). H.7827 also includes the same requirement for building codes, with regulations to be
    drafted by the state building commissioner. Should any Commissioner or Director fail to enact
    regulations that achieve the reductions in emissions, any individual could bring an action in
    Providence Superior Court to force the regulations – no matter how costly – to be promulgated.
    H.7851 (Reps. McEntee, Handy, Regunberg, Fogarty and Tanzi) bans large retailers – defined as
    those with annual retail gross sales volumes of $5 million or more – from providing plastic bags
    to customers effective January 1, 2021. Retailers can charge customers up to 25 cents per paper
    bag unless that customer is a SNAP or EBT card holder at which time no fee may be charged. In
    addition, no retail establish, large or small, could provide polystyrene disposable food containers
    at point of sale starting January 1, 2021.

    The following bills were filed last week:
    House Bill No. 7832
    BY  Maldonado, Tanzi, Barros, Diaz, Ajello
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION - SUGARY DRINKS (Creates a tax on
    sugary drinks for the purpose of reducing the demand for those beverages, and discouraging the
    excessive consumption of, sugary drinks.)
    House Bill No. 7847
    BY  Phillips, Morin, Casey, Solomon, Ucci
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC UTILITIES AND CARRIERS - PUBLIC
    UTILITIES COMMISSION (Repeals the monthly surcharge and prepaid wireless E-911 charge
    and replaces them with a budget appropriation by the general assembly to fund the E-911
    system.)
    House Bill No. 7849
    BY  Solomon, McKiernan, Shekarchi, Casey, Morin
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT -
    ESTABLISHING A SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT FUND (Establishes a small
    business development fund to encourage formation of private capital investment by federally-
    licensed investment companies.)
    House Bill No. 7851
    BY  McEntee, Handy, Regunberg, Fogarty, Tanzi
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY - PLASTIC WASTE
    REDUCTION ACT (Prohibits large retail establishments from providing plastic checkout
    bags/all retail establishments providing polystyrene food containers with enforcement by
    municipalities with opt out election effective January 1, 2021.)
    House Bill No. 7868
    BY  Tanzi, Regunberg, Maldonado

    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO FOOD AND DRUGS -- HEALTHY BEVERAGE ACT
    (Creates the "Healthy Beverage Act" and requires children's meals provided by restaurants
    include certain healthy beverage options if the beverage comes with the meal.)
    House Bill No. 7887
    BY  Barros, Shanley, Maldonado, Kazarian, Blazejewski
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY - THE PRODUCT
    STEWARDSHIP BOTTLE RECYCLING ACT (Creates a beverage container recycling
    program using redemption centers which includes the use of automated devices to accept
    containers for recycling.)
    House Bill No. 7893
    BY  Williams, Morin, Vella-Wilkinson, Walsh, Hull
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS - PAYMENT OF
    WAGES (Enables employees to file a lien against their employers personal or real property for
    unpaid wages.)
    House Bill No. 7899
    BY  Slater
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO FOOD AND DRUGS -- THE EDWARD O.
    HAWKINS AND THOMAS C. SLATER MEDICAL MARIJUANA ACT (Prohibits employers
    from refusing to hire/discharge/discriminate against medical marijuana users testing positive for
    marijuana use.)
    House Bill No. 7900
    BY  Slater, Diaz, Handy, Blazejewski, Maldonado
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT -- THE
    HOME ENERGY RATE AFFORDABILITY ACT (Creates the Home Energy Rate
    Affordability Program to ensure that utility rates are affordable for low-income households.)
    House Bill No. 7937
    BY  Phillips, Newberry, Shanley, Barros, Johnston
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO SALES AND USE TAXES - ENFORCEMENT AND
    COLLECTION (Eliminates the ten dollar ($10.00) fee requirement for the sales tax permit.)
    Contact:
    Stephen Lombardi
    (401) 885-0020