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  • Under the Dome is a government affairs update brought to you during the Rhode Island General Assembly session by the Chamber of Commerce Coalition. Each week, the Chamber Coalition will bring you legislative and administration items of interest including legislation that has been introduced, administrative and regulatory updates, legislative committee hearings, budget reports and more.

    Remember: The Chamber of Commerce Coalition is your voice at the Rhode Island State House. If you have any concerns, questions or comments, please email advocacy@nrichamber.com


  • 2/17/2017

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    Legislative Bill Filing Deadline

    The House has extended the bill filing deadline to February 28, 2017.  The Senate’s deadline was February 16, 2017.  For those reasons, we can expect many bills to be released to the public the last week of February through the first two weeks of March.  Stay tuned to UTD for new bills!

     

    House Finance Committee Schedules Hearing for March 2nd

    On March 2nd at approximately 4:30pm, the House Finance Committee will take testimony from the public concerning the proposed budget - Article 2 – Manufacturers.  As you may recall from a previous edition of UTD, Article 2 seeks to assist manufacturers in order to grow the economy.  It expands the Innovation Voucher program by allowing up to $1 million of the fund to be used for research and development by and for small manufacturers.  It establishes a Refundable Tax Credit; and the Article creates a Refundable Jobs Training Tax Credit for manufacturers. The hearing will be held in Room 35 in the basement of the State House.

     

    Click Here to Keep Reading

     

  • 1/27/2017

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    What’s in the Governor’s Budget?

     

    Not Sick Pay

    After searching high and low for a budget article adopting a mandatory sick time policy, the Chamber was unable to find one.  According to the Governor’s staff, she will be submitting a separate stand-alone bill in the upcoming weeks so stay tuned!

     

    Article 3 – Promise Scholarship

    The Governor’s tuition program begins with the graduating class of 2017.  The program would be funded by General Revenues as well as any donations that might be received, and covers both tuition and any mandatory fees assessed by the University of RI (URI), RI College (RIC), and the Community College of RI (CCRI).  To qualify, the student must be less than 19 years of age at the time of graduation or at the time he/she earns a GED.  If the student wishes to attend CCRI, he/she must enroll as a full-time student immediately after graduation.  If the student wishes to attend URI or RIC, he/she must already be enrolled and completed 60 credits before the application for the tuition program is submitted.  The student is required to be a full-time student (special circumstances exempted), maintain a 2.0 GPA and stay on track to finish on time.

     

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  • 1/20/2017

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    Governor’s Budget Released

    Governor Raimondo released her vision of the State’s 2018 budget on Thursday evening.  H.5175 (link provided below) details the $9.3 billion revenue and spending plan that includes two years of free tuition for Rhode Island high school students as well as a continuation of many of the economic development programs that were created last year. 

    In a first blush, brief overview of the budget, the revenues seem to rely on current sources of revenue, an increase in sales tax due to the extension of the tax to on-line purchases, an increase in a few fees, and a fifty cent ($.50) increase in tax on the sale of cigarettes – the new tax rate would be $4.25 per pack giving Rhode Island the second highest tax in the country (New York is the highest).

    In the coming weeks, the Chamber will be highlighting budget Articles of interest to the business community.

    Click Here to Keep Reading

  • 1/13/2017

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    House and Senate Name Committee Assignments

    There are some new faces on the House Committees as released this week.  Rep. Robert Jacquard (D-Cranston) was named Chairman of the House Corporations Committee, replacing long time Chairman Brian Patrick Kennedy.  Rep. Kennedy was named Speaker Pro Tempore and will now be on the rostrum when Speaker Nicholas Mattiello is not able to lead the floor.  Rep. Jacquard was elected to the House in 1992, making him one of the most senior members of the House.  He is a retired police sergeant and a self-employed attorney.

    Leading the House Labor Committee will be Rep. Robert Craven Sr. (D-North Kingstown).  Rep. Craven was first elected to the House in 2012 and is currently an attorney at Robert E. Craven & Associates in North Kingstown. He is an assistant solicitor and probate judge in Charlestown and an assistant solicitor in East Providence.

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  • 1/9/2017

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    Welcome to the first edition of Under the Dome 2017! 

    On January 3, 2017, the legislature began its new year.  In the coming weeks, legislation will be filed, hearings will be held and the Chamber may ask you to contact your legislators when the need arises.  If you haven’t done so already, please go to the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s web page, https://vote.sos.ri.gov/ and enter your information as requested (if you live in Rhode Island), so that you will know who represents you as a State Representative and a State Senator.  Thank you for your help!

     

    Awaiting Committee Assignments – Neither the House nor the Senate has announced any committee membership lists at this time.  Those assignments are expected to be made soon.

     

    Legislative Calendar

    The calendar for 2017 has been released.  The key dates to keep in mind are:

    Opening Day                                                  January 3, 2017

    Last Day for Public Bill Introduction            February 16, 2017

    Winter Break                                                  February 20-24, 2017

    Spring Recess                                                 April 17-21, 2017

     

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  • 6/20/16

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    The 2016 legislative session ended around 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning for the House of Representatives and just after 6:00 a.m. Saturday morning for the Senate.  During the 14 hours of debates and negotiations, the House addressed over 400 calendar items while the Senate voted on over 200 calendar items.  The Senate has historically voted on more bills than the house prior to entering the last night of session, so the difference between the two is not odd; but the volume of bills acted upon for both sides was unique.  In a future edition of UTD, we will present to you the new laws and citations for those laws once they are signed by the Governor.

     

    Senate Judiciary Committee Votes Burrillville Referendum Down

     

    Noting hours of testimony received on S.3037 SubA, An Act Relating to State Affairs and Government – Energy Facility Siting Act the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee continued, expressing concern over the precedent setting nature of the bill.  Committee members also referred to a Rhode Island Supreme Court case – Warwick Mall Trust v. State of Rhode Island.  This case states that the Rhode Island Constitution (Article XIII, Section 5) gives the General Assembly the right to grant taxing authority to municipalities, and therefore tax treaties as well.  If the voters of a municipality are required to approve municipal tax treaties, then the argument is made that the voters would have to approve the General Assembly’s granting of the authority to municipalities to tax or grant tax treaties which is against the Constitution.    In addition, the committee received a signed letter from the Burrillville Town Council, asking the Senate to reject the legislation.  For these reasons, the Committee voted 7-2 to recommend “no passage” on both S.3037 SubA and H.8240 SubA.  The bill, therefore, is dead for this year.  The Chamber applauds the Committee members for voting against the bill in a very thoughtful, deliberative manner.

     

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  • 6-13-16

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    Senate Committee on Environment and Energy Votes on Burrillville Power Plant Bill

     

    After the House voted 62-6 (with 6 not voting) to pass H.8240, the battle continues concerning the ability of the citizens of Burrillville to override the actions of their Town Council when it comes to a tax treaty for an energy plant. S.3037 SubA, An Act Relating to State Affairs and Government – Energy Facility Siting Act was heard by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week but was held for further study.  The bill could still be voted out of committee next week, but committee members asked many good questions concerning the precedent that would be established under this bill and the energy project itself.  S.3037 SubA increases the number of people on the energy facility siting board from three to nine and bans the appointment of any person who received a significant portion of their income from an energy company or from an oil, gas or electric company.  The bill also states that any tax treaty approved by the Town Council of Burrillville would have to be put before the voters for their approval.  If the Town Council chose to extend a tax treaty by resolution in the future, that resolution would again be subject to voter approval.  The committee did receive a letter from the Burrillville Town Council, but the letter was unsigned leaving the origin of the letter in question.  The Chamber opposed the voter referendum approval requirement.    

     

    The Chamber urges you to contact your State Senator and ask him/her to “vote no” on S.3037.  This bill establishes a very bad precedent by allowing voters to vote on tax treaties negotiated in good faith between a business or developer and officials of a town or city.  To find out who your State Senator is, go to the following website and enter your address.  THANK YOU! 

     

    https://sos.ri.gov/vic/

     

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  • 6/6/16

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    House Committee on Environment and Energy Votes on Burrillville Power Plant Bill

     

    The last edition of UTD featured an overview of the Invenergy power plant proposal as well as H.8240, An Act Relating to State Affairs and Government – Energy Facility Siting Act.  The bill increases the number of people on the energy facility siting board from three to nine and bans the appointment of any person who received a significant portion of their income from an energy company or from an oil, gas or electric company.  The bill also states that any tax treaty approved by the Town Council of Burrillville would have to be put before the voters for their approval.  If the Town Council chose to extend a tax treaty by resolution in the future, that resolution would again be subject to voter approval.  The Chamber opposed the voter referendum approval requirement.  Last week the House Committee on Environment and Energy Voted to approve the bill 11-2. Rep. Michael Marcello (D-Scituate, Cranston) and Rep. Raymond Hull (D-North Providence, Providence) voted against approval of the bill. 

     

    The full House could vote on the bill this week; that is why we are urging all Chamber members to contact their State Representatives and ask them to “vote no” on H.8240.  This bill establishes a very bad precedent by allowing voters to vote on tax treaties negotiated in good faith between a business or developer and officials of a town or city.  To find out who your State Representative is, go to the following website and enter your address.  THANK YOU! 

     

    https://sos.ri.gov/vic/

     

    Click Here to Keep Reading

  • 5/31/16

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    Chamber Testifies In Favor of Insurance Jobs Bill

     

    After months of meetings, the Department of Business Regulation, together with the property casualty insurance industry, developed an innovative idea to help Rhode Island attract and create jobs.  H.8058, An Act Relating to Taxation – Taxation of Insurance Companies, proposes to lower the premium tax paid by insurance companies by an amount equal to the revenue realized by the state through additional income tax dollars paid by the new/additional insurance company employees.  The reason this idea is so unique, is that insurance companies are subject to retaliatory taxes in other states.  For example, ABC insurance company located in RI is subject to a 2% premium tax on insurance sold to RI citizens.  If ABC insurance company sells insurance to citizens of CT which has a premium tax of 1.75%, ABC insurance company would be required to pay the state of CT a 2% premium tax because that is the tax assessed in RI.  By lowering the premium tax here in RI, the state is in a strong position to attract insurance companies to relocate to the state, and to encourage locally domiciled insurance companies to grow jobs here as opposed to in other states – all at a revenue neutral impact to the state.  According to the Department of Labor and Training, the state’s unemployment rate dropped to 5.3% last month.  While that is a positive for RI, the state also lost 1500 jobs.  The Chamber testified that H.8058 “utilizes a unique idea to help our state regain some of those lost jobs.

     

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  • 5/23/16

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    Senate Labor Committee Holds Off on Votes

     

    The Senate Labor Committee was scheduled to vote on S.2378, An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations – Minimum Wages.  The bill, as written, would raise the minimum wage to $10.50 per hour starting January 1, 2017, and to $11.00 per hour January 1, 2018.    However, there were some efforts underway to change the language so that the wage would go to $10.10 in January.  The Committee postponed the vote but it is expected to be rescheduled for the week of May 23rd. This issue will likely be resolved in the final days of the legislative session as the House and Senate negotiate passage of bills.  http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText16/SenateText16/S2378A.pdf

     

    The Senate Labor Committee also held off voting on S.2459, An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations – Parental and Family Medical Leave Act.  The original language in the bill was amended so that it only expands Parental and Family Leave Act by granting foster parents the right to take off time from work to accept a child, under 16 years of age, into the family.  S.2459 was amended but then was held for further study in order to give interested parties time to review the language.  The new language can be found at: http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText16/SenateText16/S2549A.pdf

     

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  • 5/16/16

     

    An Update from the State House

     

     

    Budget Update

     

    The Revenue Estimating conference finished its work last week and concluded that the state will have a reported $37 million in additional revenue over what was originally predicted.  With that said however, some expenses were also higher for the year, leaving legislators with some tough decisions to make.  The House, Senate and Governor’s office have begun pre-negotiations on the FY2017 budget.  The goal is to release a budget in a couple weeks, giving the General Assembly the opportunity to wrap up its legislative work the middle of June.  Those are just targets, but it is doable.

    Click Here to Keep Reading

  • 5/2/16

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Anti MERS Bill

     

    On Tuesday, the Senate Judiciary Committee passed S.2543 SubA, An Act Relating to Property – Form and Effect of Conveyances.  This legislation would require that all transfers of a mortgage interest on residential property be recorded in the town or city where the property is located.  The stated intent of the bill is to provide a clean chain of title for consumers to track the owner of their mortgage loans, but it does so by discontinuing the practice of recording mortgages in the name of a party other than the holder of the note secured by the mortgage. This act would also require mortgage assignments be recorded within a certain time or render the mortgage void, but not nullify the underlying indebtedness.  S.2543 basically targets MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems).  As mortgages are sold on the secondary market or as servicers of loans change, many large lenders use MERS to track the changes electronically.  It’s simple to use and is efficient for the industry.  Anyone can go to the MERS site on the computer, enter an address and find out who holds the mortgage.   The Rhode Island Supreme Court, in the most recent decision Bucci v. Lehman Brothers Bank FSB, upheld MERS as a nominee.  As noted in the case, MERS doesn’t conduct foreclosures any longer.  The Court made clear MERS’ importance in housing financing today.  The only state that has passed a bill requiring the recording of assignments of mortgages (but not notes) is Kentucky in 2006; no other state has done so.  If passed, companies in the mortgage business fear lenders in the secondary market will not buy Rhode Island mortgages, therefore drying up access to capital for residential property.  S.2543 Sub A has not yet been placed on the Senate calendar for a vote.  If you have an interest in this legislation, please contact your Senator now!


    Click Here to Keep Reading


  • April 18, 2016

     

    An Update from the Statehouse

     

    General Assembly Heads Into the Final Phase of Legislative Session

     

    Each year the General Assembly breaks in April for one week.  A majority of the hearings have been held, leaving the months of May and June for bill negotiations as well as the creation of the budget.  On May 7th, the House, Senate and Governor’s office and fiscal staffs will meet in what is known as the Revenue Estimating Conference.  At that time, they will determine the amount of revenue available for the FY2017 budget.  If the revenues are good, the budget process is obviously easier.  If the numbers are lower than anticipated (which is what the rumor mill is predicting) the budget process becomes more challenging. 

     

    Because the General Assembly is on break from April 18th through April 22nd, there will be no edition of “Under the Dome” next week.

     

     

    Powdered Alcohol Ban Legislation Sent to the Governor

     

    H.7026, An Act Relating to Alcoholic Beverages was passed by the Senate and transmitted to the Governor for consideration.  The Senate version S.2059, passed the House and has also been transmitted to the Governor.  Both bills ban the sale and purchase of powdered alcohol in the state.  The sale of product, which is expected to begin this summer, has the potential to hurt restaurants, entertainment venues and hotels as customers purchase soda or order water and then create their own cocktail by adding powder.  The use of the product also raises liability issues for businesses.  An individual could order one drink, appear intoxicated so that the bartender refuses to serve another drink, order a soda and add powdered alcohol thus becoming more intoxicated.  If the person has an accident while driving on the way home, any injured party could sue the business.  The Chamber supports passage of both H.7026 and S.2059. 


    Click Here to Keep Reading


  • April 11, 2016

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    Powdered Alcohol Ban Legislation Takes One More Legislative Step Forward

     

    H.7026, An Act Relating to Alcoholic Beverages passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday April 5th.  The Senate version S.2059, was passed by the House Judiciary Committee on April 6th.  Both bills ban the sale and purchase of powdered alcohol in the state.  The sale of product, which is expected to begin this summer, has the potential to hurt restaurants, entertainment venues and hotels as customers purchase soda or order water and then create their own cocktail by adding powder.  The use of the product also raises liability issues for businesses.  An individual could order one drink, appear intoxicated so that the bartender refuses to serve another drink, order a soda and add powdered alcohol thus becoming more intoxicated.  If the person has an accident while driving on the way home, any injured party could sue the business.  The Chamber supports passage of both H.7026 and S.2059. 


    Click Here to Keep Reading


  • April 4, 2016

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    House Labor Committee Hears Paid Sick and Safety Leave Legislation – ACTION NEEDED

     

    The House Labor Committee met for 5 ½ hours Thursday March 31st to discuss increases in minimum wage, fair pay for women, and the infamous H.7633, An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations – Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act.  In case you missed last week’s UTD, this bill requires employers to provide paid sick and safety leave time which accumulates at the rate of one hour for every thirty hours an employee works, up to a maximum of fifty-six hours a year.  Sick/safety leave can be used for medical reasons as well as for preventive medical care, care of a family member, attend court proceedings associated with domestic violence or sexual assault, relocate due to domestic violence or sexual assault, or to care for a family member as a result of a domestic violence issue. The definition of family member includes: biological, adopted, foster child or stepchild regardless of age; biological, foster, stepparent or adoptive parent; spouse, domestic partner; grandparent, grandchild; sibling or “Any other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.”  If an employee is absent for three consecutive days, an employer can require the employee to submit written documentation to prove the reason for the absence.  Any out of pocket expenses associated with obtaining the documentation must be paid by the employer.  Only five states in the country have passed a sick leave bill – California, Oregon, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Vermont.  H.7633 is more generous than any of the 5 states; but passage of any version of the bill would make Rhode Island an outlier with most of the county.

     

    The Proponents of the bill came out in large numbers, with most being members of a group called RI Working Families.  According to their own web page, “Rhode Island Working Families is a newly formed progressive independent political organization that will fight for economic, social, and racial justice — and win. Formed by labor unions, community organizations and grassroots activists, our aim is to win policy shifts that ensure dignity and justice for working class communities, communities of color, and all Rhode Islanders.”

     

    Thank you to all of the Chamber members who contacted members of the House Labor Committee to voice opposition to this bill.  It is now time to contact your own legislator in addition to the House Labor Committee members.   The Chamber opposes the passage of H.7633.  

     

    Click Here to Keep Reading


  • March 28, 2016

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    The House Labor Committee is scheduled to meet Thursday March 31st at 3:30 p.m. in Room 101 at the State House to discuss H.7633, An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations – Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act.  This bill requires employers to provide paid sick and safety leave time which accumulates at the rate of one hour for every thirty hours an employee works, up to a maximum of fifty-six hours a year.  The accumulated time can be carried over to the following year, but an employee cannot earn more than the fifty-six hours on an annual basis.  Employers are not required to “buy out” the unused time, but they may do so by choice.  Salaried employees are assumed to work forty hours a week (unless the employer can show the employee actually works less than forty hours).  Sick/safety leave can be used for medical reasons as well as for preventive medical care, care of a family member, care for a child due to the closure of the child’s school for medical reasons, attend court proceedings associated with domestic violence or sexual assault, relocate due to domestic violence or sexual assault, or to care for a family member as a result of a domestic violence issue. The definition of family member includes: biological, adopted, foster child or stepchild regardless of age; biological, foster, stepparent or adoptive parent; spouse, domestic partner; grandparent, grandchild; sibling or “Any other individual related by blood or affinity whose close association with the employee is the equivalent of a family relationship.”  Employees must give reasonable notice that they intend to take leave if it is possible under the circumstances; however, the employer must lay out in writing how to provide notice to the company.  If an employee is absent for three consecutive days, an employer can require the employee to submit written documentation to prove the reason for the absence.  Any out of pocket expenses associated with obtaining the documentation must be paid by the employer.  Lastly, an employer cannot require the employee, as a condition of taking paid sick/safety leave, to find a replacement worker to cover the hours.  The Chamber opposes the passage of H.7633.

     

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  • March 21, 2016

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    Chamber Opposes Packaging Bill

    H.7896, An Act Relating to Health and Safety – Producer Responsibility Program for Printed Paper and Packaging. The legislation states, as its purpose, “to have a system of resource recovery and waste reduction that aims to: (1) Minimize greenhouse gas emissions resulting from resource recovery activities and waste reduction activities; (2) Minimize the generation of waste, including waste from products and packaging; (3) Increase the durability, reusability and recyclability of products and packaging; and (4) Hold persons who are most responsible for the design of products and packaging responsible for the products and packaging at the end of life.”  H.7896 then goes on to accomplish those goals by directing RI Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC) to adopt regulations requiring producers of packaging materials to reduce the amount of waste associated with disposing the material.  Packing includes items such as boxes, bags, pallets and bail wrap. Additionally, RIRRC must create a system for collecting and managing packaging materials as well as to establish a registration and reporting system for all producers of packaging materials (or those commercially related to the material – which is vaguely defined) in Rhode Island. Finally, the legislation authorizes RIRRC to assess fees to pay for the costs of the program, although it is unclear whether the fee would be assessed on the producer, distributor or retailer.  No other state in the country has enacted this law.  The Chamber opposes this bill.

    http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText16/HouseText16/H7896.pdf


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  • March 14, 2016

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    Chamber Testifies on Bills

    It was a busy week at the state house as the Chamber testified on the following bills:

    Senate Bill No. 2569, An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations – Workers’ Compensation, adds responsibility to the workers’ compensation administrative account.  This account is funded by a 6.5% assessment on the workers’ compensation premiums for employers in Rhode Island.  RI currently has one of the highest assessments in the country.   The account pays for programs such as the Donely Rehabilitation Center, the activities of the workers’ compensation court, and related administrative tasks assigned to the Department of Labor.  S.2569 proposes to add the requirement to fund the “Rhode Island Uninsured Employers’ Fund” (RIUEF).  RIUEF is intended to provide financial assistance to employees who are hurt while working for employers who failed to secure workers’ compensation insurance.  Nothing in the bill suggests how much the assessment would increase in order to adequately fund the RIUEF; and the Chamber, while expressing its opposition to this bill, pointed out that it is unfair to charge employers that are rightfully purchasing workers compensation insurance for those employers that are scamming the system.  The Senate Labor Committee sent S.2569 to the Workers’ Comp Advisory Council for their input.

     

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  • March 7, 2016

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    Chamber Supports Fire Safety Bill

    S.2213, An Act Relating to Health and Safety was heard in the Senate Committee on Housing and Municipal Government last week.  The bill bans insurance adjusters, contractors and restoration companies from the site of a fire for 24 hours following the fire department’s release of the premises back to the owner/occupant, unless the entity is with the owner/occupant.  The legislation is meant to maintain the integrity of the fire investigation and to give the owner time to look through the fire site before various interested parties solicit business or show up.  The Chamber supports the passage of S.2213.

     

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  • February 29, 2016

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    House Labor Committee Hearing

    As mentioned in last week’s UTD, the House Labor Committee was scheduled to hear testimony on two bills aimed at changing the employer/employee relationship by requiring employers to provide 14 day written work schedule notices, retention pay, flexible work schedule requests, payment for work outside of the written schedule provided, etc.  The two bills (H.7515 and H.7634) were postponed and will be heard at a later date.  The committee did take testimony on H.7505 which prohibits employers from deducting any amount from their employees' wages except for items specifically stated in state or federal law; and would ban employers from deducting from wages amounts for spoilage, breakage, cash shortages, losses, fines or penalties for tardiness, misconduct or quitting by an employee without notice.  H.7505 would not allow an employer to deduct – even with employee written authorization – health insurance copays, uniform costs, gym memberships, PAC contributions, child care costs etc.  The Chamber testified against H.7505.  The proponents of the bill did not intent to capture so many benefits provided to employees through payroll deductions; and they agreed to work with the Chamber to re-draft the bill’s language.

     

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  • February, 22 2016

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    House Labor Hearing

    On Thursday, February 25th, the House Labor Committee will be taking testimony on the following bills at 3:30pm in room 205 at the State House.

    H.7505 – This bill would bar employers from deducting any monies from an employee’s pay unless the deduction is specifically authorized in Rhode Island General Laws Title 28, or otherwise required by law.  A few exceptions are noted: reimbursement for breakage, cash shortages or losses, or penalties for tardiness, misconduct or as a result of an employee quitting without notice.    The Chamber opposes H.7505.

    H.7515 – The legislation, entitled Fair Workweek of Rhode Island”, would require employers to:

    1.  Give, in written form at the time of hiring, each non-supervisory employee a good faith estimate of the hours and the days and times the employee is expected to work each week

    2.  Give, prior to the first day of work, a written work schedule for the first 14 days of work

    3.  Give employees a written 14 day schedule of work every 2 weeks thereafter

    Employees have the right to refuse any work not included in the written schedule without employer retaliation.  In addition, the bill specifically states: “Employers shall not determine schedules based on performance metrics.”  The bill gives employees the right to request flexible work schedules and allows them to switch shifts with other employees without employer retaliation; and also demands employers pay employees a “minimum retention pay” of $150 per two week period.  H.7515 can be found at http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText16/HouseText16/H7515.pdf  The Chamber opposes H.7515


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  • February 15, 2016

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    The full house voted to enact the toll bill in a 6-hour session Wednesday night with only 3 amendments successfully passing.  One amendment eliminates from tolling those trucks – not class 8 and above - that are towing a “noncargo carrying power unit that operates in combination with the semitrailer or trailer”.  It was unclear if the power unit would transform a toll exempt vehicle into one that would be subject to the toll.  The second amendment requires DOT to post information about bridge projects on its website; and the third amendment included “women” in the definition of minority businesses for purposes of awarding road projects.  The House passed the toll bill 52-21 with 2 Representatives not present for the vote.  To see how members of the house voted on amendments and the final proposal go to http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/HVotes/votes.asp

    The Senate passed the tolling bill Thursday after a lengthy debate (over 2 hours) as well.  The final vote was 25-12 with one Senator not present.  To see how members of the Senate voted go to http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/SVotes/votes.asp

    The Governor quickly signed the bill, allowing implementation to begin.

     

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  • February 8, 2016

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    Governor Raimondo Releases Budget

    While Punxsutawney Phil predicted an early spring, Governor Gina Raimondo predicted that Rhode Island is getting stronger.  In her State of the State Address last week, Governor Raimondo proudly noted that Rhode Island realized an increase of more than 8000 jobs last year and its unemployment rate dropped more than any other state in the nation.   The Governor used one of Rhode Island’s favorite past times to make her point.  “If we want to grow high wage jobs, we need to skate to where the puck will be.”  Her FY2017 budget proposal includes an expansion of Research and Development grants to encourage businesses to invest in research and development, as well as to partner with universities to achieve innovation.  Raimondo pointed out that today 40% of the population has some advanced education, but the economy is expected to need 70% of the population to have additional education.

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  • February 1, 2016

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    Re-drafted Toll Bills Introduced

    As expected, the House and Senate filed bills to allow for the collection of tolls throughout the state.  H.7409, sponsored by the House Majority Leader John DeSimone and S.2246 sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Dominick Ruggerio where both filed January 28th.  The bills allow the RI Turnpike Authority to purchase tolling facilities for bridges in the state; and allow the Department of Transportation (DOT) to collect the tolls.  Locations would be chosen by the DOT as long as the locations comply with federal requirements.  Following an economic analysis and a public hearing, DOT would set the amount of the toll with certain restrictions in place.  The maximum toll paid for crossing the state on Route 95 would be $20.00.  No truck could be charged more than once per day per tolling site meaning a truck could cross a bridge from the north and south resulting in two toll charges.  If that truck crossed the same bridge again in the same day, no toll would be assessed.  DOT is limited by a maximum per day charge of $40.00 for crossing multiple bridges in the state.  The bills state clearly that vehicles - other than Class 8 trucks and higher - cannot be tolled unless a majority of people voting in a statewide referendum approve the additional tolls.  The House Finance Committee will be taking testimony on the proposal, as well as other House sponsored proposals, Thursday, February 4th, beginning at 2:30 p.m. in room 35 at the State House. The Senate Finance Committee will hear testimony on S.2246 on Wednesday, February 3rd, at 2:00 p.m. in the Senate Lounge.

     

    Click Here to Keep Reading

     

  • January 22, 2016

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    On January 21st, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to recommend passage of both S.2059 and S.2061, bills relating to alcoholic beverages.  S.2059 makes the possession, purchase or sale of powdered alcohol a crime with a fine up to one thousand dollars ($1,000).  S.2061 bans the possession of alcohol without a liquid device.  People who purchase the powder simply add it to water and it becomes an alcoholic drink.  Your CHAMBER SUPPORTED passage of these bills because the use of powdered alcohol by customers in restaurants, bars and hotels could cause potential legal issues for establishments.  CHAMBER WIN  

     

    House Corporations Committee to Consider Additional Health Mandates

    On Tuesday, January 26th, the House Corporations Committee will take testimony on three new health care mandate proposals.  H.7162 requires health insurance policies include coverage for temporomandibular joint disorder. H.7163 requires policies/plans issued by health insurers to cover abuse-deterrent drug formulations of opioid analgesics.  The CHAMBER continues to ask that economic impact analyses be done prior to adding any new health care mandates as each mandate adds to the cost of health care premiums. CHAMBER OPPOSES WITHOUT FURTHER ANALYSIS.


    Click Here to Keep Reading

     


  • January 18, 2016

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    Hearings Begin

    Legislative hearings have begun in both the House and Senate as they start to address the bills filed. 

    One bill that the Chamber will not have to weigh in on is H.7047, An Act Relating to Businesses and Professions – Electricians.  H.7047 would have required general electrical “maintenance” to be done by a licensed electrician.  In 2015, the Chamber worked to amend the bill so that a company was not required to hire an electrician to change light bulbs.  The 2015 compromise bill died the last night of the 2015 session.  The sponsor filed the original 2015 bill again this year but formally withdrew it last Tuesday, thus killing the bill for the year.  CHAMBER WIN.


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  • January 8, 2016

     

    An Update from the State House


    Welcome to the first edition of Under the Dome 2016! 

    On January 5, 2016, the legislature began its new year.  In the coming weeks, legislation will be filed, hearings will be held and the Chamber may ask you to contact your legislators when the need arises.  If you haven’t done so already, please go to the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s web page, https://sos.ri.gov/vic/ enter your home address (if you live in Rhode Island) and the address for your company, so that you will know who represents you as a State Representative and a State Senator.  Thank you for your help!

     

    Click Here to Keep Reading


  • July 16, 2015

     

    Legislative Wrap-Up

     

    The Senate and the House have transmitted, to the Governor, the bills that passed both legislative branches.  To top off the uniqueness of the 2015 session, Governor Raimondo did not veto one bill, but either signed them or allowed them to become effective without her signature.  It is still unclear as to whether the legislature will come back this fall.

    Your Chamber supported a number of efforts to improve the business climate this year that have now become law:

    Senate Bill No. 649  SUB A, now Chapter 22 of the 2015 RI Public Laws, AN ACT RELATING TO TWIN RIVER CASINO GAMBLING (Removes a provision in the 2005 public laws which prohibits the construction of a hotel on the Twin River premises in Lincoln, Rhode Island.).  This bill was signed by the Governor April 23rd and is effective now.  The House version - House Bill No. 5798  as amended is Chapter 19 of the 2015 RI Public Laws.

     

    Senate Bill No. 737  SUB B, now Chapter 218 of the 2015 RI Public Laws, AN ACT RELATING TO AGRICULTURE AND FORESTRY - AGRICULTURE FUNCTIONS OF DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT (Amends the general laws relative to regulation of freshwater wetlands by establishing state standards for freshwater buffers and setbacks.)  This bill will help to standardize wetland regulations, making it easier for developers and businesses to navigate the permit process.  Communities are required to alter their ordinances to comply with the standard.  The bill was signed by the Governor July 10th and is effective now.

     

    Click Here to Keep Reading


  • June 29, 2015

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    House and Senate Recess

    Realizing an impasse was insurmountable, the Senate recessed and the House followed, ending the 2015 legislative session…for now.  Major bills such as the Governor’s toll proposal, a Pawsox stadium, and the regulation and taxing of Uber vehicles were left unresolved, while many other bills were left in limbo, having passed both branches but never officially transmitted to the Governor.  Because the Senate and House “recessed”, they could come back into session at any time, but most discussions refer to a September session – after the Labor Day holiday.

    Some of the issues that successfully passed the last days of session and were transmitted to the Governor already are as follows:

     

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  • June 22, 2015

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    RI House Passes Budget

     

    The Rhode Island House of Representatives passed a FY 2016 budget of $8.7 billion in record time and unanimously.  The debate that lasted roughly 2 ½ hours left many long time lobbyists and legislators scratching their heads.  The House passed the state pension settlement with no debate; passed the Governor’s economic development tools that she wanted however with some oversight provisions built in by the House; and endorsed the Governor’s proposal to expand the definition of hotels to include all rentals that are less than 30 days.  As the last article was passed at 7:16, the members gave themselves a standing ovation to celebrate the speedy adoption of the budget.  The Senate is expected to pass the budget this week. The final wrap up of the 2015 session should be June 23rd or 24th.

     

    Click Here to Keep Reading

     


  • June 8, 2015

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    Chamber Supports Secretary of State’s Lobbying Bill

    In an effort to make the lobbying process more transparent to the public as well as more clear for those participating in lobbying efforts, the Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea introduced legislation.  The bill combines various definitions of lobbying in the current law into one definition that is more explicit.  The legislation simplifies the reporting process, and gives the Secretary of State subpoena powers in order to find those individuals that are lobbying while avoiding the reporting requirements.  Chamber CEO, John Gregory has authored a letter of support which may be published in a future edition of the Providence Business News.

     

    Click Here to Keep Reading


  • June 1, 2015

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    House Budget Expected Soon

    The House and Senate are busy working on the budget with the hopes of bringing the document out of the House Finance Committee Wednesday or Thursday of this week.  If successful in meeting the goal, it is possible that the legislature could adjourn before the end of June.  Many issues will be addressed in the coming weeks.

     

    Governor Releases New Toll Proposal on Trucks

    The Governor released a new proposal entitled “Rhode Works.”  Noting that Rhode Island is ranked 50th in the country in bridge and road conditions and that 22% of our 1162 bridges are structurally deficient, the Governor unveiled the idea of a proposed tax on certain trucks that pass over the state’s roads.

    RoadWorks calls for the issuance of a $700 million revenue bond for the repair of bridges ($300 million for bridges throughout the state and $400 million for bridges on Routes 6 and 10).  At the news conference, it was stated that a “user fee” would be assessed on trucks traveling across 17 to 20 bridges throughout the state, on Routes 95, 195, 295, 146, 6 and 10.  Trucks would also pay multiple times if they passed over more than one of these bridges during one trip through Rhode Island.  The user fee is, in essence, a toll.  Below is a chart that was released by WPRI to help explain which trucks are intended to be included in the fee/toll program.

     

    Click Here to Keep Reading


  • May 26, 2015

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    Cesspool Bill Passed Senate Committee.  The Senate Committee on Environment & Agriculture passed S.369 SubA this week.  This bill would affect every property that currently has a cesspool.  If passed by the Senate and the House, a cesspool would have to be replaced with an on-site waste water treatment system, or the property must be tied into a sewer system, within one year of the sale of a property.  In reality, this will require the issue to be addressed prior to the closing of a property as most lenders will not hold money in escrow for such a condition unless extenuating circumstances exist.  The bill, if passed, would become effective January 1, 2016. Click here to view bill

     

    Below is a list of legislation that was filed last week or that is active this week.  The list contains bill numbers, links to the legislation, summary explanations and the Chamber’s position if applicable. 

     

    Senate Bill No. 194, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS – MINIMUM WAGES (Provides an increase in the minimum wage from nine dollars ($9.00) to ten dollars and ten cents ($10.10) per hour on January 1, 2016.).  The Senate Labor Committee is expected to pass this bill on the 27th.  The Committee may change the dollar amount of the minimum wage to something less than $10.10.  The Chamber opposes this bill.

    The House version H.5074 will be voted on in the House Labor Committee May 28th.


    Click Here to Keep Reading


  • May 18, 2015

     

    An Update from the State House

    The legislature is busy working to create its own version of the FY2016 budget.  With the good news that came at the May Revenue Estimating Conference, there is hope that the budget may come a little earlier in June rather than the last week as has happened traditionally.  An increase in income tax revenues and corporate tax revenues, coupled together with some decreases in spending this current fiscal year, has given the State roughly $173 million in surplus revenue that can be applied to the budget over the next two years.  How that money will be used (restoration of program cuts, reduction in taxes, new spending) remains to be seen as the House and Senate leaderships both have priorities in mind.

     

    Below is a list of legislation that was filed last week or that is active this week.  The list contains bill numbers, links to the legislation, summary explanations and the Chamber’s position if applicable.

     

    House Bill No. 5607, AN ACT RELATING TO BUSINESSES AND PROFESSIONS – MOTOR VEHICLE GLASS REPAIR AND REPLACEMENT (Creates a procedure for the licensing of motor vehicle glass repair or replacement shops.) The Chamber has no position on this bill, but encourages any company involved in auto glass repair to review this bill closely.  The bill is scheduled to be voted on by the House Corporations Committee May 19th.


    Click Here to Keep Reading


  • May 11, 2015

     

    An Update from the State House

    Medicaid Savings -  Governor Raimondo issued Executive Order 15-08 and thus created the “Working Group to Reinvent Medicaid.”  The group was charged with finding significant savings for a system that represents 31.5% of the state’s budget.  The group recently released a proposal to save about $90 million in FY2016.  The Working Group’s recommendations fall into three major categories:

     

    (1)   Reforms to the payment and delivery system, to move away from the current fee-for-service model which pays for volume towards paying for value and quality. In many cases, these recommendations propose short-term reductions in reimbursements to providers, paired with a structure to move towards more effective and accountable models of care.

    (2)   Tools to strengthen the state’s ability to root out waste, fraud, and abuse, ensuring that scarce resources are spent where they are needed most.

    (3)   Tactical improvements to the efficiency of the state’s administration of these programs, ensuring that they operative effectively and leanly.

     

    The full report can be found by clicking here:

     

    Click Here to Keep Reading

     

  • May 4, 2015

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    Article 11, Section 24, Infrastructure Bank.  This Article attempts to establish tools for business growth by creating a pool of money that can be used to fund renewable energy and efficiency projects, green infrastructure programs, storm water and brownsfields programs.  Unfortunately, the Article also encourages the use of project labor agreements (PLAs) for the efficient building fund.  PLAs require all contractors and subcontractors working on the project to sign an agreement with the union and to hire their employees through the union hall.  PLAs require a non-union contractor/subcontractor to turn their workers over to the union hall, pay union benefits (even if they have benefits under their own individual company), pay five cents per hour per employee to the RI Building and Construction Trades Council for the privilege of obtaining the work, and even run the possibility of having to use union members on the job instead of their own workers.  All of these requirements cost additional money to the state tax payers.  The Chamber testified in support the programs within Article 24, but opposed the inclusion of the project labor agreement language.  The Chamber Coalition also opposed the PLA inclusion.

     

    Click Here to Keep Reading

     

  • April 17, 2015

     

    An Update from the State House

     

    Article 11, Section 7, Elimination of Sales Tax on Commercial Fuel.  The Chamber testified in favor of the elimination of the 7% sales tax on heating fuel paid by commercial entities.  Current Rhode Island law already exempts residential heating fuel from the state sales tax.  It is well recognized that the state has very high energy costs.  This Article seeks to lower energy bills in order to help existing businesses and to help attract new companies. 

    Article 11, Section 12, Earned Income Tax Credit.  The Chamber testified in favor of the proposed increase to the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) as put forward by the Governor.  Under current law Rhode Island provides a 10% EITC to low income households.  The proposal increases the EITC to 12.5% in Tax Year 2016 and 15% in Tax year 2017.  Rhode Island’s neighboring states offer higher credits of 27.5% (CT) and 15% (MA).  Raising the EITC places money back into the hands of those who need it; but it also provides an incentive to work as the credit is based on earned income.  This is a win/win situation for all parties. 


    Click Here to Keep Reading


  • April 13, 2015

     

    An Update from the State House


    Legislative Committees met for many long hours this past week.  Below is an update concerning issues of interest to the business community:

    Senate Bill No. 649  SUB AAN ACT RELATING TO TWIN RIVER CASINO GAMBLING (Removes a provision in the 2005 public laws which prohibits the construction of a hotel on the Twin River premises in Lincoln, Rhode Island.) Chamber supports. The Senate Committee on Special Legislation passed the bill on April 8th.  The full Senate is scheduled to vote on the bill April 14th.  The Senate Special Legislation Committee is scheduled to vote on the House companion bill (H.5798 as amended) April 9th.

     

    Senate Bill No. 291  AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS - MINIMUM WAGE - GRATUITIES (Incrementally raises $2.89 tip credit for  employers between the years 2016 and 2020, at which point the credit will be eliminated.)  Chamber opposes.  Senate Labor Committee members heard testimony for four hours on this issue.  Proponents accused restaurant owners of paying less than minimum wage to workers, and allowing sexual harassment to occur in their establishments.  The proponents believe that tips are essentially gifts from customers and should not be considered wages.  Opponents discussed how tipped employees are often the most highly paid employees in the business.  Eliminating tips in exchange for a consistent hourly wage will ultimately hurt all employees and cause businesses to change the model of operation.  Anyone interested in this legislation is encouraged to contact their legislators!  The bill was held for further study.

    Click Here to Keep Reading


  • March 16, 2015

     

    Legislative Update from your Chamber of Commerce Coalition

     

    In this edition of Under the Dome, the Chamber Coalition would like to bring a few items of interest to your attention. The first few are an explanation of, and links to, legislation that affects the business community on the tax and wage front. You will also find the Chamber Coalition’s position on the legislation highlighted for you.

     

    We would also like to share with you a summary of Rhode Island’s newest cabinet office and cabinet position as well as the statutorily dictated roles of the two. Thank you for reading.

     

     

    Legislation of interest

     

    Rep. Patricia Serpa (West Warwick, Coventry, Warwick) has submitted two bills to exempt commercial heating fuel from state taxes. The first bill, H 5522, would exempt fuel oil, propane and natural gas for heating by commercial establishments from state taxes. Sen. Lou Raptakis (Coventry, East Greenwich, West Greenwich) has introduced an identical bill, S 0107 on the

    Click Here to Keep Reading


  • January 19, 2015

     

    Summary of corporate tax changes

     

    Tax Rate: The corporate income tax rate under Rhode Island General Laws (RIGL) § 44-11-2 will be 7 percent for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2015, down from the 9 percent for 2014.

    Franchise Tax: For 2014, the franchise tax is generally $2.50 per $10,000 of a corporation’s authorized capital stock. However, for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2015, the franchise tax is repealed.

    Combined Reporting: For tax year 2014, corporations subject to Rhode Island’s corporate income tax file separate returns, as separate entities. However, for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2015, Rhode Island has adopted combined reporting for corporate income tax purposes. As a result, a business which is treated as a C corporation – and which is part of a combined group engaged in a single business enterprise (a “unitary” business) – must file a combined report with Rhode Island. Thus, a corporation will generally have to treat all of its affiliates as if they were a single company, and combine all of their taxable income in a single pool. A formula will be used to apportion combined income to Rhode Island for tax purposes.

    Estimated Tax: For tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2015, Rhode Island will apply special rules regarding payments of estimated tax for any taxpayer required to file a combined report. To meet “safe harbor” provisions, such taxpayers will have to compute estimated payments for that tax year as follows:

     

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  • August 19, 2014

     

    Rhode Island General Assembly session wrap up

     

    The Rhode Island General Assembly recessed its 2014 legislative session at approximately 4:00 am Saturday morning, June 21st.  Recess is more of a technical term as legislators don’t officially adjourn for the year until moments before the start of the next legislative session in January of 2015. This is done so that the assembly can gather again to deal with potential gubernatorial vetoes or any other issue that may arise before next January. As is usually the case, the legislature saw furious activity in the last few days of the session with hundreds of pieces of legislation being considered and passed by both the House and Senate with hundreds more ultimately being given the “thumbs down” by way of holding the bills for further study or in some cases, rejecting them outright. From start to finish, more than 2,000 bills and resolutions were introduced in both chambers. Many bills were ceremonial in nature and most resolutions are non-controversial. (Congratulatory messages, etc.) For our part, the Chamber of Commerce Coalition actively tracked more than 300 pieces of legislation this session. That number does not include the aforementioned ceremonial bills and resolutions. We provided testimony before 13 legislative committees on a number of occasions and advocated for or against more than 175 of those bills. Our legislative agenda is drawn up prior to the legislative session and approved early in the year, and not surprisingly, once again this year our top five policy areas of concern were budget and taxation, education, business regulation, labor and workforce and  health care delivery and costs. Below is a synopsis of the top issues that the Chamber Coalition immersed itself in this session and the outcome.

     

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  • April 21, 2014

     

    Here's what’s happening at the State House

     

    The RI General Assembly is taking its annual spring recess this week. As it is each year, the break takes place during school vacation week. Last Thursday was the last full day for the General Assembly until Tuesday, April 29th. Actually, the RI Senate decided to shorten its legislative week last week, meeting only on Tuesday and Wednesday. There were no committee hearings on Thursday for the Senate nor was there a Senate session. The House, however, did meet as normal during the week –both in session and in committee hearings.

    From the Chamber Coalition’s legislative advocacy point of view, the big news of the week came last Tuesday afternoon, prior to House and Senate business for the day. Word was spreading through the State House about the RI Department of Revenue income and other tax collections report for the month of March. (The most recent data available.) The numbers in the report were dramatically less than what the House, Senate and Governor’s office budget officials had counted on. The state collected only $39 million in income tax for March and expectations were that the number would be about $53 million. That’s $14 million less than predicted in one revenue category alone. Overall state tax collections (from most all sources) totaled a little over $300 million for March and that number was also less than forecast. In fact, it was about 10% less.

     

    Click Here to Keep Reading


  • March 10, 2014


    What are the top three issues affecting your business that your Chamber Coalition represented you on at the State House last week?

     

    1. Senate bill numbers 2249 and 2250

    http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText14/SenateText14/S2249.pdf (Link to first bill)

    http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText14/SenateText14/S2250.pdf (Link to second bill)

    Both bills are relating to LABOR - MINIMUM WAGES

    The first bill was introduced by Senators Lynch, Miller, Metts, Pearson and Satchell

    The first piece of legislation would provide an increase in the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour on January 1, 2015 and would continue raising the minimum wage each January 1st until January 1, 2017, at which time the minimum wage would be increased automatically each year using an index.

    Click Here to Keep Reading

     

  • Friday February 21, 2014

     

    Proposal introduced to increase the RI income tax and reverse the 2010 tax reform


    As in past years, Rhode Island’s personal income tax rate is again the topic of legislation at the General Assembly. Specifically, raising taxes to the rates that existed four years ago and made RI the 5th highest income tax state in the country. Tax reform in 2010 that the Chamber was very involved with and supportive of, reduced RI’s maximum tax rate from 9.9% to 5.9%. This change instantly made RI competitive with other New England states and with the country as a whole. We went from being one of the highest income tax rate states in the country to a more reasonable and competitive “middle of the pack.” This year, the Chamber Coalition is tracking and opposing a very important piece of legislation in the House of Representatives. The recently introduced legislation (link below) would increase the tax imposed on the income of certain individuals and reverse the “income tax reform” of 2010. The proposal would raise the rate by 2% leading...

     

    Click Here to Keep Reading



  • Tuesday February 11, 2014

     

    What’s happening at the RI State House

     

    Hearings in both the House and Senate Finance Committees regarding Governor Chafee’s proposed budget are underway. Your Chamber of Commerce Coalition has been tracking each article (the term used for “chapters” of the budget) and has offered testimony as needed. As with each year, the articles that are of most interest to the Chamber Coalition and the business community involve tax proposals. (Reducing the corporate tax rate, strengthening the Historic Tax Credit program, eliminating the sales tax on non-manufacturer’s gas and electricity, etc.) The House and Senate Finance Committees have already held hearings on the budget proposal to create a statewide taskforce on employee misclassification. The Chamber Coalition is supportive of the budget article. Further components of the proposed budget include:

     

    Click Here to Keep Reading


  • Monday February 3, 2014

     

    Employer Tax – Job Development Assessment

     

    In 2011, the state’s job development assessment - which is paid by employers, increased to fifty-one hundredths of one percent (0.51%) of an employer’s taxable payroll, up from 0.21 percent. The difference of 0.3 percent went to pay the interest on federal loans and to help repay borrowings from the federal government. (Proceeds of the loans had been used to cover unemployment insurance payments to those who qualified A new law passed by the RI General Assembly and signed by Governor Chafee in July 2013 sunsets that 0.3 percent assessment in tax year 2015. This change means that the job development tax assessment will drop to its pre-2011 level of 0.21 percent. The Chamber strongly supported this change and advocated for its passage. The sunset is reliant however, on the loans from the federal government being paid off in full by the state. As of approximately December of last year, Rhode Island still had more than $125 million in outstanding loans from the Federal Unemployment Account. This total is down from a one time high of more than $440 million. (A total of 20 states – including Rhode Island – and the Virgin Islands owe a combined total of $20.7 billion.)

     Click Here To Keep Reading