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.
Powered Alcohol Possession Bill to be Heard
On Thursday, January 21st, at approximately 4:30 pm., the Senate Judiciary Committee will take testimony on 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. The bills have exemptions for health care providers who are involved in medical research. In 2014, the federal government cleared the way for a few companies to sell powdered alcohol in flavors such as mojito, cosmopolitan and lemon drop. People who purchase the powder simply add it to water and it becomes an alcoholic drink – sometimes without color. This could cause potential legal issues for restaurants that serve individuals or other companies that believe they are serving water only to have a customer or employee become intoxicated. The Chamber will be watching this bill carefully. Click here for bill S 2059 Click here for Bill S 2061
Statewide Teacher Contract Commission Hearing
On Friday, January 22nd, at 2:00, the Senate Commission to Study the Costs, Benefits and Implementation of a Statewide Teacher Contract in Rhode Island, will take testimony from the RI Foundation concerning their study into the possibility of implementing a statewide teacher contract. The committee will take testimony from the public following the RI Foundation presentation.
Below is a list of new legislation that was filed this week. The list contains bill numbers, links to the legislation, and summary explanations.
House Bill No. 7145, AN ACT RELATING TO PROPERTY -- MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE AND SALE (Imposes a penalty of two thousand dollars ($2,000) upon financial institutions failing to promptly record foreclosure deeds and pay outstanding taxes.)
House Bill No. 7193, AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY -- PLASTIC BOTTLE AND CONTAINER LABELING ACT (Creates the 'Beverage Container Deposit Act' in order to provide a sustainable method for capturing beverage containers for recycling.)
House Bill No. 7197, AN ACT RELATING TO COMMERCIAL LAW - GENERAL REGULATORY PROVISIONS (Authorizes the attorney general and/or aggrieved persons to file a bad faith patent infringement suit seeking equitable and/or monetary relief including punitive damages in connection with frivolous patent infringement claims.)
House Bill No. 7203, AN ACT RELATING TO HUMAN SERVICES - PUBLIC ASSISTANCE ACT (Prohibits a recipient of direct cash assistance on electronic benefit cards from utilizing the card to purchase certain items and sanctions businesses accepting the cards for non-authorized products.)
House Bill No. 7212, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION - PERSONAL INCOME TAX (Imposes tax increases on personal income, with the revenue collected therefrom to be deposited into restricted receipt accounts for the purposes of state aid to municipalities, and reimbursement of public school construction.)
House Bill No. 7215, AN ACT RELATING TO TOWNS AND CITIES - SUBDIVISION OF LAND (Extends expiration date from 6/30/16 to 6/30/17 for approvals/permits issued by towns/cities in effect from 11/9/09 and 6/30/17 without reviving any expired approval/permit.)
House Bill No. 7217, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS (This act would establish the E-Verify compliance act which would require all government and non-government employers within the state with three (3) or more employees and the state of Rhode Island and any political subdivision thereof, to apply to participate in the federal E-Verify program and to agree to participate in the program if accepted.)
House Bill No. 7218, AN ACT RELATING TO HOLIDAYS AND DAYS OF SPECIAL OBSERVANCE - WORK ON HOLIDAYS AND SUNDAYS (Exempts medical offices from the requirement of paying time and one-half to employees for working on Sundays and holidays.)
House Bill No. 7219, AN ACT RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT -- PRIVATE EMPLOYER IRA PROGRAM (Establishes a private employer IRA program allowing employees to contribute at least (3%) of payroll period wages with oversight by DLT and state investment commission.)