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    Under the Dome: Week of 3/5

    March 05, 2018
    An Update from the State House: Hearing Season Begins

    With phase two of the legislative session, comes numerous hearings on the bills that have been
    proposed thus far. To date, 918 House bills and 621 Senate bills have been filed. The following
    key bills are scheduled to be heard this week:

    It’s Minimum Wage day in the Senate Labor Committee, Wednesday, March 7 th in Room 212
    At the Rise. S.2244, An Act Relating to Labor (by Senators Calkin, Felag, Quezada, Goldin
    and Goodwin) increases the hourly minimum wage in increments from $9.60 to $15.00 by
    January 1, 2022, as well as increases the hourly minimum wage for employees receiving
    gratuities from $3.89 an hour to $15.00 an hour by January 1, 2026.

    S.2246,
    An Act Relating to Labor (by Senators Raptakis, Morgan, Ciccone, Cote and Lombardo) increases the hourlyminimum wage in accordance with the Consumer Price Index for the Northeast Region for the
    four (4) previous fiscal years, effective January 1, 2020. S.2247, An Act Relating to Labor (by
    Senators Lynch Prata, Quezada, Crowley, Metts and Goodwin) increases the minimum wage to
    $11.00 per hour, commencing January 1, 2019, and to $12.00 per hour, commencing January 1,
    2020.

    S.2476,
    An Act Relating to Labor (by Senators Goldin and Calkin) incrementally
    increases the tipped wage from the $3.89 per hour to $9.00 per hour by January 1, 2022. Starting
    January 1, 2023, the minimum hourly wage for tipped workers would be equal to the state's
    regular minimum hourly wage.

    S.2478
    An Act Relating to Labor (by Senators Satchell, Miller,
    Goldin, Nesselbush and Gallo) increases the minimum hourly wage for employees of employers
    who provide services to 5 or more persons with developmental disabilities. The Chamber
    opposes these bills.

    Article 4, Section 5 of the Governor’s budget will be heard in the House Finance Committee,
    Thursday, March 8 th in Room 35 at the Rise (around 4:30pm). This Article imposes the Rhode
    Island sales tax on pre-written computer software, as well as on investigation services, armored
    car services, and security guard services.
    The House Labor Committee will be busy Thursday, March 8 th in Room 101 At the Rise. The
    following 4 bills, in addition to others, will be heard at that time:
    H.7169, An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations, (by Reps Perez, McKiernan, Hull,
    Almeida, Lombardi) extends the state’s Family Medical Leave Act to part-time employees,
    irrespective of the number of hours they worked for the employer, or the company’s size. Part-
    time employees would be entitled to 13 weeks of unpaid leave over the course of a two-year
    period. Ironically, this bill would give more benefits to a part time employee than to a full time
    employee who has not yet worked 12 months for the same employer. The Chamber opposes
    H.7169.

    H.7429, An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations (by Reps Carson, Donovan, Morin,
    Ranglin-Vassell, and Walsh) requires employers to allow employees to take off up to 40 hours a
    year (through the use of vacation, personal time, or compensatory time – or if none, then unpaid
    leave) to address a “child care provider or school emergency” for a child in daycare through
    grade 12. An emergency is defined as a call from the school or day care provider requesting that
    the child be picked up; behavioral or discipline problems; unexpected closure of the school or
    center; or a natural disaster.

    H.7365, An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations – Seasonal Employment (by Reps
    Hearn, Canario, and Lombardi) allows seasonal businesses - operating less than 20 weeks in a
    year due to climatic conditions or the nature of the business – to apply to the Department of
    Labor and Training for seasonal designation. If granted, the business could notify employees at
    the time of hiring that they are seasonal employees, hired for a specific timeframe; and that when
    the timeframe is complete, those employees would not be eligible to collect unemployment
    benefits. Benefits would be given to employee laid off during the seasonal period. The
    Chamber supports H.7365.

    H.7905, An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations (by Rep Craven). H.7905 allows for
    employers, in workers' compensation actions, to shift the legal burden to employees to prove
    they were not intoxicated at the time of injury or death, after a showing that the employee had a
    positive test for intoxicating substances.

    The Senate Commerce Committee will be meeting Thursday, March 8 th At the Rise in Room 212.
    Two bills of interest S.2334, An Act Relating to State Affairs and Government (by Senators
    Ciccone, Jabour, Miller, Archambault and Goldin) and S.2336 An Act Relating to State Affairs
    and Government (by Senators Crowley, Jabour, Nesselbush, Metts and Quezada) will be heard
    at that time.

    S.2334 creates “The Percentage of Income Energy Cost Payment Plan” program.
    Households with incomes at or below 150% of federal poverty guidelines that are receiving
    LIHEAP heating oil assistance funds, will be eligible to participate in a 3 year pilot program up
    to a maximum of 30,000 households. The RI Office of Energy Resources would establish a
    maximum energy usage limit based on household size. Participants would be required to pay 4%
    of their annual gross household income for the cost of heating, 2% for non-heat electric costs and
    $10 for any outstanding arrearages or bills for gas, electric or heating oil outstanding as of
    November 1, 2018. A restricted receipt account would be established in order to pay for the
    remainder of the heat and electricity costs for the pilot program participants. The program would
    be funded through a 1% surcharge on “all wholesale oil prices.” It is unclear if this means a 1%
    surcharge on wholesale heating oil or all oil products. National Grid would also be required to
    transfer $2 million dollars a year from the National Grid Settlement Funds to the restricted
    receipt account. Federal LIHEAP monies would be deposited in the new program account; and
    an “equalized gross receipt tax” would be paid by natural gas and electric customers – the rate to
    be set by the general assembly annually. The Chamber opposes S.2334.

    S.2336 establishes a similar program, called the “home energy rate affordability program,”
    although it creates more tiers of eligible recipients based on household income. This program
    would be funded by “non-bypassable monthly charges” on electric service customers ($1.55
    residential customers; $1.55 commercial and industrial customers averaging less than 10kw;
    $14.15 for commercial and industrial customers averaging 10kw to 200kw; $271.75 for
    commercial and industrial customers averaging greater than 200kw). A “non-bypassable
    monthly charge” would also be placed on natural gas customers ($1.55 for residential customers;
    $1.55 for commercial and industrial customers averaging less than 500,000 cu.ft. per year;
    $14.15 for commercial and industrial customers averaging between 500,000 and 3.5 million cu.
    ft. per year; $271.75 for commercial and industrial customers averaging more than 3.5 million
    cu. ft. per year). The Chamber opposes S.2336.

    The following bills were filed last week:

    House Bill No. 7780
    BY  Donovan, Amore, Carson, Kazarian, Blazejewski
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO BUSINESSES AND PROFESSIONS -- HOME
    HEATING OIL SALES (Provides that a home heating oil dealer subject to delivery contract
    shall provide oil within 24 hours or waive penalty.)

    House Bill No. 7790
    (Department of Business Regulation)
    BY  Kennedy, O`Grady, Edwards, Marshall, Ucci
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO BUSINESSES AND PROFESSIONS -- HAWKERS
    AND PEDDLERS (Provides for the consolidation of food truck registration within the
    department of business regulation to streamline the registration process and reduce the burden on
    small businesses.)

    House Bill No. 7798
    BY  Williams, Lombardi, Hull, Blazejewski, Vella-Wilkinson
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- PAYMENT
    OF WAGES (Requires the director of the department of labor and training to establish a list, on
    the department's website, of all employers that owe their employees' wages.)

    House Bill No. 7799
    BY  Regunberg, Williams, O`Grady, Amore, Handy
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS --
    DEPARTMENT OF LABOR AND TRAINING (Provides an opportunity for employees affected
    by plant closings or mass layoffs to furnish competitive bids to purchase businesses otherwise at
    risk of reducing workforce.)

    House Bill No. 7800
    BY  Craven
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- PAYMENT
    OF WAGES (Provides the method by which records are to be furnished relative to an employee's
    statement of earnings.)

    House Bill No. 7806
    (Governor)
    BY  Diaz, Slater, Blazejewski, Johnston, Maldonado
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO INSURANCE - INSURANCE COVERAGE FOR
    MENTAL ILLNESS AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE (Includes behavioral health counseling visits
    and medication maintenance visits as primary care visits for patient cost-sharing requirements
    under the provisions of a health plan.)

    House Bill No. 7824
    BY  Handy, Ruggiero, Carson, Tanzi, Fogarty
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO WATERS AND NAVIGATION -- THE RIVERS AND
    COASTAL ADAPTATION FUND (Establishes Rhode Island rivers/coastal adaptation fund;
    enables cities, towns and state to apply for grants to fund projects that invest in measures to
    address the impacts of climate change. Trust to be funded by fees on barrels of petroleum
    products.)

    House Bill No. 7827
    BY  Handy, Regunberg, McKiernan, Barros, Williams
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT -- RHODE
    ISLAND GLOBAL WARMING SOLUTIONS ACT (Establishes the Rhode Island global
    warming solutions act to reduce carbon emissions across various sectors of the local economy.)

    Senate Bill No. 2525
    BY  Raptakis, Ciccone, Cote, Sheehan, Picard
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION -- STATE TAX OFFICIALS (Places
    twelve percent (12%) per annum interest rate on delinquent tax payments for business
    corporation, sales and use, estate and personal income taxes.)

    Senate Bill No. 2589
    BY  Lombardi, Nesselbush, Lynch Prata, Ciccone, Conley
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO FOOD AND DRUGS - FOOD DONATIONS (Provides
    immunity to persons donating food to food banks.)

    Senate Bill No. 2593
    BY  Lombardi, McCaffrey, Lynch Prata, Jabour, Nesselbush
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- WORKERS'
    COMPENSATION -- BENEFITS (Allows for employers, in workers' compensation actions, to
    shift the legal burden to employees to prove they were not intoxicated at the time of injury or
    death, after a showing that the employee had a positive test for intoxicating substances.)

    Senate Bill No. 2597
    BY  Fogarty, Nesselbush, Ciccone
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- PAYMENT
    OF WAGES (Provides the method by which records are to be furnished relative to an employee's
    statement of earnings.)

    Senate Bill No. 2602
    BY  Lombardi, McCaffrey, Jabour, Nesselbush, Conley
    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS - WORKERS'
    COMPENSATION - GENERAL PROVISIONS (Requires notice of claims of common law right
    to be given to an employer and the employer's workers' compensation insurance carrier and
    clarifies liability of employers and their insurers for workers' compensation claims.)
    Contact:
    Stephen Lombardi
    (401) 885-0020