Under the Dome 5/14/2018

    May 14, 2018
    An Update from the State House:

    DLT Releases Final Paid Leave Regulations

    The Department of Labor and Training has released the final Paid Sick and Safety Leave (PSSL)
    regulations. The trigger point for employers to be included under the law is still based on the
    number of employees the business had within the 2 highest reporting quarter in the previous
    year. So if you maintained an average of 18 employees in the 2 highest employment quarters last
    year, you are required to provide PSSL benefits beginning July 1, 2018. New employers
    (companies started after January 1 of the current year) are required to provide PSSL as soon as
    the 18 th person is hired.

    Starting July 1, 2018, covered employees are entitled to 24 hours of PSSL during the 2018
    calendar year. This wording suggests that if your company already provides paid leave and the
    employee has utilized a certain number of the hours prior to July 1 st those hours would be
    included in the overall 24 hour count for 2018. Covered employees are entitle to 32 hours PSSL
    during calendar year 2019; and 40 hours during calendar year 2020 and thereafter.
    An employee is covered if he/she spends more time working in Rhode Island than in any other
    state. Fifty percent (50%) is not a requirement for inclusion. If an employee works in three
    states but splits it up so that he/she works in Rhode Island more any other states – that employee
    is covered and is entitled to PSSL.

    If an employee knows PSSL will be needed 24 hours in advance of the leave time, the leave is
    considered “foreseeable” and that employee must provide reasonable notice to the employer. If
    the employee discovers leave is needed less than 24 hours in advance, it is considered
    “unforeseeable” notice is required ONLY IF the employer has an adopted written policy that was
    provided to the employee prior to the leave request. Otherwise, notice is not required.
    Employers are permitted to require documentation of PSSL lasting more than 3 consecutive
    workdays. HOWEVER, the employer must have a policy in place; and if the costs associated
    with obtaining that documentation (doctor visit, transportation cost, etc.) exceeds two times (2x)
    the employee’s hourly rate of pay, then the cost is considered unreasonable. If the cost is
    unreasonable, then the employer cannot require the employee to provide the documentation, but
    can ask the employee to sign a paper stating that the leave was taken in accordance with the law.
    These are just a few of the items found in the final adopted regulation. The final regulation can
    be viewed at: http://sos.ri.gov/documents/archives/regdocs/released/pdf/DLT/9466.pdf
    If your business has 18 employees or more as outlined above, the Chamber strongly
    suggests you contact an employment attorney or human resource specialist ASAP and be
    sure that your policy manual is in compliance with this new law. The new policy must be in

    the hands of your employees by July 1, 2018 or the notice provisions and other parts of the
    law will be unavailable to you as an employer.

    Final 2018 Revenue Estimated Conference Looks Brighter
    As a few people sat in the audience, 3 members of the Governor’s Revenue Department, 3
    members of the House fiscal staff and 3 members of the Senate fiscal staff sat in a room for 5 ½
    hours debating the appropriate number for each revenue line item in the current FY2018 budget
    and next year’s FY 2019 budget which starts July 1. For the FY2019 budget, the group believes
    personal income tax collections will be about $24 million more next year for a total of $1.3
    billion. Lottery revenue will remain somewhat steady ($364 million). Corporate tax revenue
    was set at $176 million – a number that was difficult for the group to determine due to all of the
    changes in federal corporate tax law. Sales and Use Taxes are expected to increase in FY2019
    by $30.5 million, with revenue from all state tax sources expected to rise $64.8 million. Those
    are a lot of numbers to digest; but the bottom line is that the budget hole is far less than was
    predicted back in November, 2017. The FY2019 budget will still not be a cake walk, and some
    will argue that a few of the numbers may be a little optimistic, but the budget process of
    negotiations between the three sides has begun.

    This Week At the State House
    The House Finance Committee will take testimony on a proposed tax on carbon Tuesday in
    Room 35. H.7400 (Reps. Regunberg, Handy, Keable, Carson, Tobon) creates the Energize
    Rhode Island Fund and deposits into it money collected through a carbon tax. The tax is set at
    $15 per metric ton of carbon, charged at the first point of sale, and it increases by $5 per metric
    ton until it reaches $50 per metric ton. This year’s bill has changed in that it requires two other
    states (Massachusetts and one other RGGI state) to pass a carbon tax before the Rhode Island tax
    would become effective; but the other states only have to pass a carbon tax of $5 per metric ton,
    not an equal tax. The following chart shows the cent per gallon or dollar per gallon impact on
    Emission Factor kg

    Tax Rate

    Gasoline Diesel LPG Jet Fuel Natural Gas

    cents/gal cents/gal cents/gal cents/gal  Dollars/Mcf
    First Year of

    15 13.1 15.5 9.0 14.5 .8

    Second Year of

    20 17.5 20.7 12.0 19.3 1.1

    Third Year of

    25 21.9 25.8 15.0 24.2 1.4

    Fourth Year of

    30 26.2 31.0 18.0 29.0 1.7

    Fifth Year of

    35 30.6 36.2 21.0 33.8 1.9

    Sixth Year of

    40 35.0 41.3 24.0 38.7 2.2

    Seventh Year of

    45 39.4 46.5 27.0 43.5 2.5

    Eighth Year of

    50 43.7 51.7 30.0 48.3 2.8

    International Carbon Bank & Exchange
    In the first year of enactment alone, taxes assessed on gasoline, diesel and jet fuel could reach
    over $150 million. The Chamber testified against the senate version (S.2188) and will testify
    against H.7400 as well.
    The House Finance Committee will also hear testimony on H.7437 which would allow for
    internet lottery sales. This initiative is particularly problematic for those businesses that sell
    lottery tickets as a part of their marketing strategy. These business entities also ensure that age
    requirements are met for the legal purchase of tickets, and that the sales are remitted to the state.
    The state of Georgia passed legislation allowing online lottery sales and found an off-shore
    company doing business under a name similar to its own state website.
    On Thursday, the House Committee on Municipal Government will take testimony on
    H.8177 (Reps. Maldonado, McLaughlin, Barros, Tobon, and Edwards) in Room 205. H.8177
    was just introduced last week – the link can be found below in the new filed bills section of
    UTD. H.8177 changes the definition of residential property under the City’s 3 class tier tax
    system. The current definition includes all property fit for human habitation of 1 or more units.
    The new proposed definition changes the qualifications to: “(A) Owner-occupied dwellings of no
    more than five (5) units; (B) Non owner-occupied dwellings of no more than five (5) units
    including properties for mixed use as residential and commercial properties; and (C) Units or
    dwellings with six (6) or more units.”

    Political Update
    As stated in last week’s UTD, anyone wishing to run for office must file a Declaration of
    Candidacy Form with the Local Board of Canvassers in the City or Town in which you reside.
    Forms can be filed June 24 th , 25 th or 26 th . Rep. Hearn of Barrington does not plan to run for re-
    election. Of course, Rep. Rugenberg from Providence will not be running for State
    Representative as he has declared for the Lt. Governor’s race so that seat will be open. And Rep.
    Morgan’s seat in Coventry will be open as she runs for Governor.

    The following bills were filed last week:

    House Bill No. 8177
    BY  Maldonado, McLaughlin, Barros, Tobon, Edwards
    LOCAL TAXES-- CITY OF CENTRAL FALLS (Authorizes Central Falls to adopt 3 separate
    tax classifications of residential property consisting of tax rates: owner-occupied property of 5
    units or less/dwellings of 6 units or more/non owner-occupied property of 5 units or less,
    including mixed use.)

    House Bill No. 8179
    BY  McEntee, Craven
    unpaid family/parental leave to substitute any accrued vacation/sick/ other appropriate leave for
    any part of the unpaid leave.)

    House Bill No. 8182
    BY  Costantino, Lima, Hearn, Shekarchi, Winfield
    imposed by the Rhode Island airport corporation to three dollars ($3.00) per trip for
    transportation network company services.)
    Stephen Lombardi
    (401) 885-0020