Under The Dome 2/20/2024

    February 20, 2024

    This Week At the State House


    The legislature is on break this week. The House bill filing deadline has been extended to February 27th. Both the House and Senate will resume hearings and floor sessions Tuesday, February 27, 2024.


    US Chamber Asks for Your Help


    In 2017, Congress passed a permanent reduction to the corporate income tax rate from 35% to 21% as part of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. To ensure that pass-through businesses like sole proprietorships, partnerships, and S corporations (i.e., the overwhelming majority of small businesses) weren’t put at a tax disadvantage relative to C corporations, Congress created a new 20% deduction for qualified business income. This deduction is codified at section 199A of the Internal Revenue Code. Unlike the permanent reduction for C corporations, however, the 20% deduction for pass-through businesses is scheduled to expire at the end of 2025. This 20% deduction effectively operates as a rate reduction for pass-through businesses, with some limitations. If a business owner's income exceeds a certain threshold ($383,900 for joint filers and $191,950 for other filers in 2024), the benefit of the 20% deduction may be limited based on the amount of wages paid to non-owner employees (W-2 wages). Generally speaking, the more W-2 wages a business pays, the greater the deduction that business’s owner(s) can claim. According to data obtained by the US Chamber, Rhode Island's percentage of employment at pass-through businesses is 53.82%. Rhode Island's percentage of employment at large pass-through businesses (over 100 employees) is 30.2%. The collective tax benefit of this deduction in Rhode Island is $486,454,000. The US Chamber is asking all businesses to contact members of the Congressional delegation and ask them to enact the “Main Street Tax Certainty Act,” which would make the 20% pass-through deduction permanent.


    RI Office of Energy Resources Announces Programs for Commercial Buildings


    Net Metering

    The net-metering program is one of two solar programs available to homeowners and businesses interested in going solar. Customers can choose to have a net-metered system, OR an REG system (see below), but not both. The decision is binding for the lifetime of the contract. Net-metering is a mechanism for crediting the power produced by renewable energy systems installed behind a customer meter. Net-metering allows customers with eligible renewable energy systems to receive bill credits for all power generated up to 125 percent of the on-site consumption during a billing period. To participate in net metering, a renewable energy system must be sited on the customer’s premises. Eligible customer-sited net metering systems must be sized to meet on-site loads, based on a three-year average of electricity consumption at the property. For more information on net-metering, visit: https://energy.ri.gov/renewable-energy/wind/net-metering

    Renewable Energy Fund (REF) Commercial Scale Solar Program

    Business’s, nonprofits, academic institutions, municipal/state buildings or other large facilities are eligible for the Commercial Scale solar program. The grant payment will go to whoever the applicant or grantee of the project is. Your selected solar installer will apply to the REF on your behalf. This grant is available for Net-Metered systems only. After the solar PV system is installed, the grant will go directly to the installer after the completion paperwork is processed and a quality assurance evaluation of the system is complete. If using the REF Small Scale program, make sure the turnkey contract with your installer clearly shows how much the grant is for and includes a clause with an option for cancellation in case the grant program becomes fully subscribed. This is a popular program with a limited annual amount of funding.

    · Funding: Commercial Scale: Starts at $.70/watt and progressively goes down as the size increases (see a checklist for full incentive calculator $400,000 cap

    · Energy storage Adder Incentive: $.50/watt, max $40,000 per project

    · Round 24-1 Commercial Scale: Friday, March 1, 2024; 9am Flyer

    Solar Installers can access the application using the following link: https://commerceri.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/10/REF-Commercial-Scale-Application-10.15.21.pdf

    Renewable Energy Growth Program

    The Renewable Energy Growth (REG) Program, administered by Rhode Island Energy, supports the development of distributed generation projects in Rhode Island. The program enables customers to sell their generation output under long-term tariffs at fixed prices. Participants sign a 20-year long-term contract with a fixed electricity price and a Production-Based Incentive (PBI) payment. Participants receive bill credits on their electricity bill up to the amount owed, and any excess generation is compensated to the customer in the form of a direct deposit. You must be an RI Energy customer to use this program. Eligible technologies include wind, solar, small-scale hydropower, and anaerobic digestion. To learn more about this program, please visit https://energy.ri.gov/renewable-energy/wind/renewable-energy-growth-program-reg-program. You can learn more about the 2022 REG program by visiting https://ngus.force.com/servlet/servlet.FileDownload?file=0156T00000FLwcH.

    Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE)

    Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE) is a financing program that allows commercial property owners to repay the costs of energy efficiency or renewable energy projects in conjunction with their property tax payments. Municipalities must opt-in to C-PACE in order to participate. The list of participating communities can be found here: https://riib.org/solutions/programs/commercial-property-assessed-clean-energy/




    The following new bills have been filed:


    Senate Bill No. 2268 Lawson, Lauria, DiMario, Euer, Zurier, Cano, Kallman, Murray, Mack, Bissaillon, AN ACT RELATING TO COMMERCIAL LAW -- GENERAL REGULATORY PROVISIONS -- GROCERY STORES (Requires grocery stores to specifically limit the number of self-service checkout units to six (6) units per location. The consumer protection unit of the department of attorney general would have authority to enforce these restrictions.) http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText24/SenateText24/S2268.pdf

    Senate Bill No. 2273 Euer, LaMountain, Burke, Bissaillon, DiMario, Gallo, Lawson, Cano, AN ACT RELATING TO COMMERCIAL LAW -- GENERAL REGULATORY PROVISIONS -- UNFAIR SALES PRACTICES (Requires businesses that offer automatic subscription renewals/continuous service offers to provide consumers with notice to the consumer prior to their engagement in the contract along with notice of renewal of subscription/cancellation info. eff. 1/1/25) http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText24/SenateText24/S2273.pdf

    Senate Bill No. 2276 Tikoian, Raptakis, Quezada, Ciccone, Murray, F. Lombardi, Britto, Burke, Rogers, Felag, AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY -- VEHICLE BARRIERS-THE CHARLOTTE A. VACCA ACT (Requires commercial property owners to install vehicle barriers at their retail establishment locations when construction/renovations are being done and permits insurers to consider the installation to provide a discount on the owner's insurance policy.) http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText24/SenateText24/S2276.pdf

    Senate Bill No. 2279 Zurier, Acosta, Britto, Murray, AN ACT RELATING TO FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS -- CONSUMER CHECKING ACCOUNTS (Establishes Rhode Island consumer checking accounts to insure the availability of low-cost, low-volume basic checking services for citizens of the state.) http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText24/SenateText24/S2279.pdf

    Senate Bill No. 2282 Bissaillon, Ciccone, Cano, Gallo, AN ACT RELATING TO EDUCATION -- CURRICULUM (Establishes "workplace readiness week". It requires all public high schools, including charter schools, to annually observe that week by providing information to students on their rights as workers and specifies the topics that must be covered.) http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText24/SenateText24/S2282.pdf

    Senate Bill No. 2292 Mack, Euer, AN ACT RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT -- THE GREEN JUSTICE ZONE ACT (Establishes the first Green

    Justice Zone, a model that may be replicated in future years to ensure that all communities throughout the state have clean air and clean water.) http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText24/SenateText24/S2292.pdf

    Senate Bill No. 2347 Euer, Acosta, Bissaillon, Mack, DiMario, Zurier, Gu, Murray, Bell, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION -- TAX ON GAINS FROM THE SALE OR EXCHANGE OF REAL PROPERTY (Creates new tax on gains from sale or exchange of real property held for short periods of time, 6 years or less, establishes a comprehensive framework to calculate and implement enforcement and provides imprisonment and/or fines for those who evade taxes.) http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText24/SenateText24/S2347.pdf

    Senate Bill No. 2350 Tikoian, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION -- PROPERTY SUBJECT TO TAXATION (Exempts from taxation real and tangible personal property classified as industrial and would extend the exemption period from ten (10) years to twenty (20) years.) http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText24/SenateText24/S2350.pdf

    Senate Bill No. 2355 Murray, Lawson, Euer, Cano, Ciccone, Britto, Acosta, Gu, Mack, Bissaillon, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION -- PERSONAL INCOME TAX (Creates an additional Rhode Island personal income surtax of 3% on taxable income over $1,000,000, with the existing three-bracket personal income tax structure remaining in place.) http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText24/SenateText24/S2355.pdf

    Senate Bill No. 2366 Sosnowski, Euer, Miller, Ujifusa, Acosta, DiPalma, Kallman, Britto, Ciccone, AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC UTILITIES AND CARRIERS -- DUTIES OF UTILITIES AND CARRIERS (Creates an income-sensitive tiered subsidy program to ensure that home energy utility costs are affordable for eligible low-income households.) http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText24/SenateText24/S2366.pdf

    Senate Bill No. 2467 Cano, Lawson, Acosta, Mack, Britto, Bell, Valverde, Miller, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- RHODE ISLAND PARENTAL AND FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (Increases the amount of parental or family leave available to an employee from thirteen (13) weeks to twenty-four (24) weeks in any two (2) calendar years.) http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText24/SenateText24/S2467.pdf

    Senate Bill No. 2475 Ciccone, Burke, Britto, F. Lombardi, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- MINIMUM WAGES (Sets the minimum wage for 2025 at seventeen dollars ($17.00) per hour and for 2026 at twenty dollars ($20.00) per hour.) http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText24/SenateText24/S2475.pdf

    Senate Bill No. 2477 Ciccone, Acosta, F. Lombardi, Britto, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- PAYMENT OF WAGES -- FREQUENCY OF PAYMENT (Eliminate all exceptions to the provision that all employees are to be paid weekly except for employees of the state and its political subdivisions, municipal governments, and non-profit organizations with less than twenty-five (25) employees.) http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText24/SenateText24/S2477.pdf

    House Bill No. 7607 Nardone, Place, Shallcross Smith, Quattrocchi, Rea, Roberts, Cortvriend, AN ACT RELATING TO INSURANCE -- SMALL EMPLOYER HEALTH INSURANCE AVAILABILITY ACT (Amends the definition of "small employer" for purposes of the small employer health insurance availability act to mean a business employing less than one hundred (100) employees rather than fifty (50) employees.) http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText24/HouseText24/H7607.pdf

    House Bill No. 7617 Kislak, Cortvriend, Fogarty, Carson, Speakman, McEntee, Spears, Morales, McGaw, Felix, AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY -- BUILDING DECARBONIZATION ACT OF 2024 (Establishes a program for the energy and water benchmarking of large buildings in Rhode Island and a standard for their energy performance.) http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText24/HouseText24/H7617.pdf

    House Bill No. 7650 Morales, Slater, DeSimone, McGaw, Henries, Handy, Fogarty, Bennett, Stewart, McNamara, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- FAIR EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES -- EXTREME TEMPERATURE EMPLOYEE PROTECTION (Directs employers to take certain actions to protect their employees who are exposed to extreme hot and cold temperatures and failure to implement or perform any of those actions would be an unlawful employment practice.) http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText24/HouseText24/H7650.pdf

    House Bill No. 7660 Costantino, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION -- PROPERTY SUBJECT TO TAXATION (Exempts from taxation real and tangible personal property classified as industrial and would extend the exemption period from ten (10) years to twenty (20) years.) http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText24/HouseText24/H7660.pdf