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.
Paid Sick and Safety Leave Bill Emerges
The Chamber is watching closely the activity surrounding H.7633 and S.2721, Acts Relating to Labor and Labor Relations – Healthy and Safe Families and Workplaces Act. These bills require 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 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 these bills. Please look for updates in future editions of Under The Dome. We may be asking for your help! http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText16/SenateText16/S2721.pdf
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. 7927, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS --TEMPORARY DISABILITY INSURANCE (Expands TDI benefits, change the calculation of the taxable wage base; to state and municipal employees; increases the maximum number of weeks an employee can collect TDI and TCI; and expands TCI benefits for the care of siblings and grandchildren.)
Senate Bill No. 2736, AN ACT RELATING TO EDUCATION - CAREER AND TECHNICAL EDUCATION (Permits students with necessary educational background to participate in career and technical internships.)
Senate Bill No. 2747, AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC UTILITIES AND CARRIERS-GREEN ENERGY REVOLVING FUND (Establishes the green energy revolving fund for the purpose of providing loans for green energy projects.)
Senate Bill No. 2764, AN ACT RELATING TO CRIMINAL OFFENSES -- LAW PRACTICE (Requires duly admitted members of the bar of this state to acquire and maintain malpractice insurance in the minimum amount of one million dollars ($1,000,000)