An Update from the State House
House Committee on Environment and Energy Votes on Burrillville Power Plant Bill
The last edition of UTD featured an overview of the Invenergy power plant proposal as well as H.8240, An Act Relating to State Affairs and Government – Energy Facility Siting Act. The bill increases the number of people on the energy facility siting board from three to nine and bans the appointment of any person who received a significant portion of their income from an energy company or from an oil, gas or electric company. The bill also states that any tax treaty approved by the Town Council of Burrillville would have to be put before the voters for their approval. If the Town Council chose to extend a tax treaty by resolution in the future, that resolution would again be subject to voter approval. The Chamber opposed the voter referendum approval requirement. Last week the House Committee on Environment and Energy Voted to approve the bill 11-2. Rep. Michael Marcello (D-Scituate, Cranston) and Rep. Raymond Hull (D-North Providence, Providence) voted against approval of the bill.
The full House could vote on the bill this week; that is why we are urging all Chamber members to contact their State Representatives and ask them to “vote no” on H.8240. This bill establishes a very bad precedent by allowing voters to vote on tax treaties negotiated in good faith between a business or developer and officials of a town or city. To find out who your State Representative is, go to the following website and enter your address. THANK YOU!
House Committee on Finance Hears Clean Diesel Construction Vehicle Bill
H.8270, An Act Relating to Motor and Other Vehicles – Clean Diesel was heard in the House Finance Committee last week. This bill creates the “Clean Diesel Fund” from which the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) would award grants to companies that undertake clean diesel measures. Measures specifically listed in the legislation include “aerodynamic technologies, clean alternative fuel conversions, diesel emission reduction solutions, engine repowers, idle reduction technologies, low rolling resistance tires and replacement or upgrades of transport refrigeration units.” Companies would have to certify that any new equipment purchased as part of the measure would be used at least 50% of the time, in Rhode Island, during the first five years of use. Awards are capped at 50% of the project cost which includes both material and labor needed to implement each eligible measure. Lastly, no one company could receive more than 25% of the available funds. The bill, as written, has no funding source tied to the Fund. The sponsor suggested that general revenue would be used as a source, however, there are some rumblings about a possible increase in the diesel tax as a potential source. Purchasers of diesel fuel currently pay 57.4 cents per gallon (cpg) in Rhode Island. (24.4 cpg federal tax and 33 cpg state tax).
State Budget May Come This Week
While the goal of the House members was to post a budget for consideration last week, a few items were still under negotiation as of last Friday. Those items include, but are not limited to, a school funding formula, charter schools, grants and treatment of marijuana. The House Finance Committee is hoping to vote on a budget Tuesday or Wednesday.
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. 8268, AN ACT RELATING TO EDUCATION (Increases the authority of the board of trustees on career and technical education over career and technical education schools while modifying the formula for state financial aid to them.)
House Bill No. 8269, AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC PROPERTY AND WORKS -- CONTRACTORS' BONDS (Prohibits the state, general contractors, and construction managers from withholding more than five percent (5%) as a retainer with respect to any sewer, water main, or other public works construction contract.)
House Bill No. 8270, AN ACT RELATING TO MOTOR AND OTHER VEHICLES-CLEAN DIESEL (Establishes the Rhode Island clean diesel fund for the purpose of reducing emissions from heavy-duty diesel engines operating on state roads.)
House Bill No. 8280, AN ACT RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL MANAGEMENT -- POWERS AND DUTIES OF DIRECTOR (Requires the director of the department of environmental management the authority to terminate and revoke licenses issued by the department if conditions leading to a suspension are not corrected.)