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    Under the Dome: Week of 2/26

    February 26, 2018
    An Update from the State House

    What’s in the Governor’s FY2019 Budget – The Last Articles 

    Article 15 – Relating to Children and Families
    This Article is set to be heard by the House Finance Committee, Wednesday, March 7 th at the
    Rise (approximately 4:30 p.m. in Room 35)

    Article 15 addresses what happens when a child in the DCYF system turns 18 years of age.
    Under current law, the Department meets with each child 6 months before he/she turns 18 to
    discuss a transition plan to exit the state system at 18. Article 15 allows one of the options to be
    a “Voluntary Placement Agreement” which allows for supervised independent living settings
    such as shared apartments or homes, living with relatives or mentors, living at college or another
    vocational setting. Under an agreement, the state could continue to provide payment for these
    housing arrangements. To qualify, the young adult has to be in the state’s legal custody at 18 or
    be an adopted foster child where the adoption took place after the age of 16, AND the young
    adult is 1) getting a GED, 2) attending a post-secondary education program, 3) is attending a job
    training program, 4) is employed at least 80 hours a month, or 4) is incapable of participating in
    any of the previously mentioned programs due to a medical condition. If the Agreement is
    signed, the state will continue to provide services until the age of 21.

    Article 15 also calls for free child care for families at 180% of the federal poverty level if a
    family member is enrolled in a Rhode Island higher education facility and the family needs child
    care in order for the member to attend school.

    Lastly, this Article changes state child care payments to a tier payment system that is based on
    the provider’s ability to meet the State Quality Rating System for child care providers. No
    payment rate could be below $193 for licensed child care centers, nor lower than $169 for child
    care homes. (Providence rates equal the 75 th percentile of market rate)

    Article 16 – Relating to Debt Management Act Joint Resolutions

    This Article allows for the issuance of $19.8 million in new revenue bonds to be used for
    projects at the University of RI. The projects are as follows:

     $11 million for repaving and reconstruction of parks, internal roadways, walkways
    and other infrastructure at the Kingston campus, the Narraganset Bay campus and the
    W. Alton Jones Campus. The total debt service, assuming a 5% interest rate, is not
    expected to exceed $17.7 million over 20 years.

     $6.5 million for engineering and construction upgrades to utility-related infrastructure
    on the URI Kingston campus, including steam, water, sanitation, electrical, and storm
    water systems. The total debt service over 20 years is expected to be $10.4 million.
     
     $2.3 million for the second phase of the fire safety enhancements throughout URI’s
    auxiliary enterprise buildings, including on-going installation of code-compliant fire
    detection systems/alarms, sprinkler systems, and other improvements. Total debt
    service is $3.7 million if a 5% interest rate is assumed.

    Article 17 – Relating to the Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana
    Act

    This Article is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Finance Committee Thursday, March 1 st at the
    Rise (approximately 4:30 p.m.) in Room 211. It will also be heard in the House Finance
    Committee March 20 th at the Rise in Room 35.

    Article 17 makes numerous changes to the medical marijuana law in Rhode Island. The
    Governor’s office believes that all of the proposed changes will generate $5 million in new
    revenue for the state.

    The Article increases the number of medical marijuana compassion centers from 3 to 15 while
    also increasing the licensing application fee for these facilities from $250 to $10,000. The fee
    for a renewal of a license increases from $5,000 to $30,000. Regulation and oversight of the
    centers would be moved from the Department of Health to the Department of Business
    Regulation. Patients residing in Connecticut and Massachusetts would be permitted to purchase
    marijuana from these facilities in Rhode Island.

    Article 17 lowers the number of marijuana plants (starting July 1, 2018) that patients and
    caregivers may grow, from 12 mature and 12 immature plants, to 8 mature and 8 immature
    plants. The language does allow a patient to possess 3 ounces of marijuana, as opposed to the
    current limit of 2.5 ounces.

    One big change in the proposed Article allows practitioners to prescribe medical marijuana to
    treat “acute pain” not just “chronic pain.” Experts in the medical field have said this would
    include conditions such as a broken bone, dental work, or surgery. These conditions could allow
    someone to get a medical marijuana card for up to 6 months.

    Article 18 – Relating to the Effective Date

    This is the last Article of the budget, and states that the effective date is July 1, 2018, unless
    another date is explicitly mentioned in another portion of the budget.

    The following bills were filed last week:

    Senate Bill No. 2334
    BY  Ciccone, Jabour, Miller, Archambault, Goldin
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT -- LOW-
    INCOME ENERGY COST ASSISTANCE (Creates an energy assistance program within the
    governor's energy assistance office with incentives for regular payments and conservation.)

    Senate Bill No. 2336
    BY  Crowley, Jabour, Nesselbush, Metts, Quezada
    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.)

    Senate Bill No. 2354
    BY  Miller, Sosnowski, Ruggerio, Coyne, Lombardo
    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.)

    Senate Bill No. 2375
    BY  Lynch Prata
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT --
    TOURISM AND DEVELOPMENT (Reinstates for one year, from July 1, 2018, to June 30,
    2019, the formula used to distribute hotel tax funds prior to January 1, 2016.)

    Senate Bill No. 2388
    BY  Archambault, Picard, Fogarty, Lombardo
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION - BUSINESS CORPORATION TAX
    (Changes the minimum corporate tax by calculating the tax based on gross income.)

    Senate Bill No. 2398
    BY  Pearson
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES -- HEALTH
    INSURANCE BENEFITS (Allows small business employers to purchase health insurance for its
    employees through the state employee group plan.)

    Senate Bill No. 2399
    BY  Sosnowski, Crowley, Calkin, Goldin, Coyne
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO INSURANCE -- ACCIDENT AND SICKNESS
    INSURANCE POLICIES (Prohibits insurance companies from varying the premium rates
    charged for a health coverage plan based on the gender of the individual policy holder, enrollee,
    subscriber, or member.)

    Senate Bill No. 2400
    BY  Goldin, Calkin, Miller, Sosnowski, Crowley
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO INSURANCE - ACCIDENT AND SICKNESS
    INSURANCE POLICIES (Establishes a special enrollment provision for pregnant women to
    obtain health insurance coverage at any time after the commencement of the pregnancy.)

    Senate Bill No. 2423
    BY  Metts, Quezada, Jabour, Goldin, Goodwin
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO BUSINESSES AND PROFESSIONS - REAL ESTATE
    BROKERS AND SALESPERSONS (Increases the maximum administrative penalty levied
    against real estate brokers and salespersons from one thousand dollars ($1,000) to two thousand
    dollars ($2,000) per violation.)

    Senate Bill No. 2448
    BY  Goldin, Conley, Miller, Calkin, Jabour
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO ELECTIONS -- CONDUCT OF ELECTION AND
    VOTING EQUIPMENT, AND SUPPLIES (Repeals the voter identification law.)

    Senate Bill No. 2449
    (by request)
    BY  Cote, Lombardo
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO COURTS AND CIVIL PROCEDURE --
    PROCEDURE GENERALLY (Reduces the statutory interest on judgments for money in civil
    actions from twelve percent (12%) to six percent (6%).)

    Senate Bill No. 2464
    BY  Coyne, Miller, Lombardo, Sosnowski, Ruggerio
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO CRIMINAL OFFENSES -- TOBACCO AND
    NICOTINE PRODUCTS -- CHILDREN (Provides certain restrictions on the sale of tobacco
    products, enhances the definition of "tobacco products", and raises the legal minimum age to
    purchase tobacco products and nicotine-delivery systems from 18 to 21 years of age.)

    Senate Bill No. 2470
    BY  Goldin, Fogarty, Miller, Goodwin, Lynch Prata
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS - TEMPORARY
    DISABILITY INSURANCE (Amends the computation formula relative to temporary disability
    insurance and adds siblings and caregivers to those workers eligible to receive temporary
    caregiver insurance.)

    Senate Bill No. 2471
    BY  Ciccone, Calkin, Goldin, Euer, Nesselbush
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- HEALTHY
    WORKPLACE (Creates the "Healthy Workplace Act of 2018" and establishes a cause of action
    against employers and employees for workplace bullying, harassment and other abusive conduct
    that is tolerated by employers.)

    Senate Bill No. 2476
    BY  Goldin, Calkin
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- MINIMUM
    WAGE-- GRATUITIES (Incrementally increases from the $3.89 per hour subminimum wage for
    tipped workers to $9.00 per hour on January 1, 2022, Starting on January 1, 2023, the minimum
    hourly wage for tipped workers would be equal to the state's regular minimum hourly wage.)

    Senate Bill No. 2478
    BY  Satchell, Miller, Goldin, Nesselbush, Gallo
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- MINIMUM
    WAGES (Gradually increases the minimum hourly wage for employees of employers who
    provide services to five (5) or more persons with developmental disabilities.)

    Senate Bill No. 2479
    BY  Lombardi, Nesselbush, Lynch Prata, McCaffrey, Goodwin
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- UNLAWFUL
    EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES (Amends the fair employment practices act by clearly
    establishing that employees of a defendant employer may be individually liable for unfair
    employment practices.)
    Contact:
    Stephen Lombardi
    (401) 885-0020