An Update from the State House
Paid Sick and Safety Leave Hearing Scheduled – ACTION NEEDED!
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.
If you know any of the following House Labor Committee members, please contact them prior to Thursday’s hearing and tell them you oppose the passage of H.7633.
Chairman Joseph Shekarchi Representative Carol Hagan McEntee
Representative Stephen Casey Representative Daniel McKiernan
Representative Michael Chippendale Representative Joseph McNamara
Representative Arthur Corvese Representative Helio Melo
Representative John “Jay” Edwards Representative Jared Nunes
Representative Deborah Fellela Representative Thomas Palangio
Representative Antonio Giarrusso Representative Stephen Ucci
Representative Kenneth Marshall Representative Thomas Winfield
Scheduling Bills Withdrawn By Sponsors
H.7515 and H.7634 were both withdrawn by the sponsors, meaning both bills are dead for this year. These bills were aimed at changing the employer/employee relationship by requiring employers to provide 14 day written work schedule notices, retention pay, flexible work schedule requests, and payment for work outside of the written schedule provided, etc. The Chamber worked hard to oppose both H.7515 and H.7634. Many thanks to all of the Chamber members that contacted their legislators about the legislation!
House Environment Committee Takes Testimony on Packaging Bill
Last week, the House Environment Committee heard testimony on H.7896, An Act Relating to Health and Safety – Producer Responsibility Program for Printed Paper and Packaging. The legislation requires branders of certain types of packaging to register with the state, reduce waste associated with its product, collect the used product, educate the public as to how to properly recycle the product and keep records on all of its activities. The bill mandates a 75% recycling rate which even RI Resource Recovery Corporation (RIRRC) said was impossible. Fees would be assessed on branders to pay for government oversight of the programs. Any business commercially related to the packaging (wholesalers, retailers, leases) may be required to perform the same requirements if it is deemed necessary to meet the 75% recycling goal. No other state has adopted this legislation. Proponents of the bill touted Rhode Island’s small size as a perfect place to start the pilot program. The Chamber testified against the bill as did RIRRC. The Senate version S.2605 will be heard in the Senate Environment Committee Wednesday, March 30th at approximately 5:00 p.m. We will continue to monitor this legislation through the remainder of the session.
House Corporations Committee to Hear Car Information Bill
H.7711, An Act Relating to Motor and Other Vehicles – Consumer Car Information and Choice Act will be heard in the House Corporations Committee Tuesday, March 29th at approximately 4:30pm. In previous years the legislation was supported by AAA, and opposed by the car industry as well as the cellular phone industry. H.7711 would allow, beginning in 2019, for the collection of data through a vehicle’s computerized equipment and would further provide that information to certain entities for their use. Accessible information would include items such as VINs, diagnostic trouble codes and sensor data, speed, distance braking, acceleration, steering information, seat belt use, air bag deployment, collision information, geo-location, miles driven, fuel level and pressure, tire pressure, battery condition and odometer information. Lastly, the auto industry has stated that existing car models are not equipped to provide this information; so Rhode Island specific vehicles would have to be built to comply with the law.
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. 7977, AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY - CHILD PRODUCTS AND UPHOLSTERED FURNITURE (Prohibits the manufacture, sale, and distribution of residential upholstered children's products that contain certain amounts of bromide or chlorine bonded to carbon that is added to a plastic, foam, or textile.)
House Bill No. 7979, AN ACT RELATING TO HUMAN SERVICES - EQUAL RIGHTS OF BLIND AND DEAF PERSONS TO PUBLIC FACILITIES (Requires movie theaters to provide open captioning for persons who are deaf or hard-of-hearing.)
House Bill No. 7982, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION -- SALES AND USE TAXES--LIABILITY AND COMPUTATION (Reduces the sales and use tax, commencing July 1, 2016, from the current level of seven percent (7%) in yearly increments of one quarter percent (.25%), until the level of six and one quarter percent (6.25%) is reached.)
House Bill No. 8009, AN ACT RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT - BLACKSTONE VALLEY ECONOMIC REVITALIZATION ACT OF 2016 (Appropriates ten million dollars ($10,000,000) into a restricted account at the department of transportation known as the Pawtucket and Central Falls commuter rail station fund.)