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
House Finance Committee Hears 911 Bill
Last week the House Finance Committee members listened to testimony on various energy and administrative bills. One bill was H.7722, An Act Relating to Public Utilities and Carriers – 911 Emergency Telephone Number Act. It proposes to create a restricted receipts account for 911 activities so that the money collected in 911 fees could only be used for 911. According to the testimony provided at the hearing, there is currently a $1.00 monthly fee on telephone landlines and a total of $1.26 monthly fee on cellular phone lines. Approximately $17 million is collected each year through these fees. The 911 program needs about $5.4 million to operate annually. The proponents of the bill argued that the 911 program could use updating as the equipment is old, and in some cases, slows down the relay of information. The house fiscal staff provided a fiscal note stating the passage of the bill would result in a general fund loss of $7.8 million in the upcoming fiscal year.
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. 8213, AN ACT RELATING TO EDUCATION -- MAYORAL ACADEMIES (Requires the approval of the town council and school committee of North Smithfield for the establishment of a mayoral academy drawing on North Smithfield, or for the enrollment of any additional North Smithfield students at RISE Mayoral Academy.)
House Bill No. 8224, AN ACT RELATING TO FOOD AND DRUGS -- UNIFORM CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES ACT--REGULATION OF MANUFACTURING, DISTRIBUTING, PRESCRIBING, ADMINISTERING, AND DISPENSING CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES (Requires pharmacies to transmit prescription information to the prescription monitoring data base within twenty-four hours of dispensing an opioid. Provides limits on amounts of opoids to be prescribed.)
House Bill No. 8228, AN ACT RELATING TO MOTOR AND OTHER VEHICLES - MOTOR FUEL TAX (Adds propane to the definition of fuels for tax purposes but not propane used for a purpose other than the operation or propulsion of motor vehicles.)
House Bill No. 8240, AN ACT RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT - ENERGY FACILITY SITING ACT (Increases membership from three to seven members and requires compliance with greenhouse gas emissions, reduction targets requires general assembly, statewide and local referendum approval.)
House Bill No. 8242, AN ACT RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT - TOURISM AND DEVELOPMENT (Provides that for the fiscal year 2017 only, the distribution of hotel tax made to the various regional tourism districts be in amounts equal to the distributions made to such districts in fiscal year 2015.)