An Update from the State House
Toll Bills Pass the House and Senate
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.
Legislature Goes on Break
As is the custom, both the House and Senate break during school vacation week. The legislature will reconvene, February 23rd. Additionally, the House has extended its bill filing deadline to February 23rd, meaning house members may continue to introduce new bills until that time, without having to go through additional procedural hoops.
What’s in the Governor’s Budget Proposal
Over the following weeks, “Under The Dome” will feature overviews of sections of the Governor’s budget. In this edition, we look at Article 17 – Relating to Commerce.
Section 3 of Article 17 amends the current Tax Stabilization Incentive. Under current law, the commerce corporation can, subject to available funds, provide partial reimbursement to communities that authorize tax stabilization incentives to qualifying businesses. The law caps the reimbursement at 10% of the forgone tax revenue. The Governor’s budget allows the commerce corporation to enter into five agreements in excess of 10% forgone revenue if the town/city council passes a resolution saying the project is “the most important project” to their economic development. Each community can only qualify for one of these projects in a fiscal year. The commerce corporation could then reimburse the community for up to 50% of the foregone tax revenue.
Section 4 of Article 17 proposes to change the Rhode Island Qualified Jobs Incentive Program. Under current law, the program allows for corporate tax credits for businesses in a “targeted industry” and all other industries. For targeted industries, tax credits kick in when a business with less than 100 employees hires an addition 10 employees. The Governor’s budget would lower the hiring requirement to an additional 5 employees. For businesses more than 100 employees, the new trigger for tax credits would be 50 new jobs instead of 100. For non-targeted industries, the trigger for companies with less than 200 employees would lower from 20 new jobs to 10 new jobs. And for non-targeted companies with more than 200 employees, the tax credit would trigger at the addition of 50 new jobs instead of 100 new jobs.
Section 6, Article 17 is a small section that allows the Executive Office of Commerce to authorize the commerce corporation to transfer money from the Anchor institution tax credit fund to the RI Tax Credit Fund. The Chamber is reviewing this section for potential impacts.
Section 7, Article 17 creates a “Refundable Research and Development Tax Credit” program. Businesses must apply for the credit PRIOR to incurring the research expenses. When making a choice as to whether to approve a business’s application, the commerce corporation must take into consideration: “whether the business will make a multi-year commitment to conduct research…whether the business will make a substantial new investment in plant, equipment or personnel in order to accomplish the proposed …activities…whether receipt of the credit is a factor in the business’s decision to conduct research and development”. The amount of credit in any given year cannot exceed the amount of municipal property taxes incurred by the business in the municipality where the research and development took place up to a maximum of $200,000.00.
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. 7515, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- HOURS AND SCHEDULING (Requires employers to give their employees at least two (2) weeks notice of their work schedule and other notices scheduling rights and remedies.)
House Bill No. 7526, AN ACT RELATING TO BUSINESSES AND PROFESSIONS -- HOTELS (Requires hotel operators to provide requesting law enforcement agencies with certain identifying information regarding patrons.)
House Bill No. 7529 (Attorney General) , AN ACT RELATING TO PROPERTY - MORTGAGE FORECLOSURE AND SALE (Amends fines for failing to file a foreclosure deed and requires that a notice of intent to foreclose be filed in the city or town where the property is located.)
House Bill No. 7559, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION - JOBS INCENTIVE PROGRAM (Exempts the eligibility of the qualified jobs incentive program to employers with less employees than is currently required, and removes the mandatory tax credit amount of seven thousand five hundred dollars ($7,500) to eligible employers.)
House Bill No. 7560, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- EMPLOYMENT SECURITY - BENEFITS (Increases the maximum weekly unemployment benefit rate to the higher of fifty-seven and one-half percent (57.5%) of the average weekly wages paid to workers in the prior calendar year or six hundred sixteen dollars ($616) per week.)
Senate Bill No. 2312, AN ACT RELATING TO COURTS AND CIVIL PROCEDURE -- PROCEDURE GENERALLY -- JUDGMENTS, ORDERS AND DECREES -- INTEREST ON JUDGMENTS (Provides that interest on judgments would accrue from the date of the filing of the civil action and not the date the cause of action accrued and would also apply to medical malpractice claims. Takes effect January 1, 2017.)
Senate Bill No. 2321, AN ACT RELATING TO PROPERTY -- IMMIGRATION STATUS (Prohibits landlords from inquiring about immigration status of a tenant, prospective tenant, occupant, or prospective occupant of residential rental property.)
Senate Bill No. 2377, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- HEALTHY WORKPLACE (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. 2379, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- PAYMENT OF WAGES (Prohibits employers from deducting from their employees' wages for spoilage, breakage, cash shortages, losses, fines or penalties for tardiness, misconduct or quitting by an employee without notice.)