January 8, 2016

    An Update from the State House

    Welcome to the first edition of Under the Dome 2016! 

    On January 5, 2016, the legislature began its new year.  In the coming weeks, legislation will be filed, hearings will be held and the Chamber may ask you to contact your legislators when the need arises.  If you haven’t done so already, please go to the Rhode Island Secretary of State’s web page, https://sos.ri.gov/vic/ enter your home address (if you live in Rhode Island) and the address for your company, so that you will know who represents you as a State Representative and a State Senator.  Thank you for your help!



    With some pressure from the legislature, Governor Raimondo released a list of potential tolling gantries locations.  The installation of a gantry requires site approval from the Federal Highway Administration in accordance with FHWA guidelines, so the list is considered “potential” until such time as the approval is granted.  The state must apply for the approval of the location and must describe the class of vehicles to be tolled.  It is the Chamber’s understanding, after having discussions with the FHWA, that once the application is approved, the class of vehicles to be tolled CANNOT be changed.  For example, if the application calls for Class 8 trucks and up, and the application is approved, the state cannot decide to add cars to the toll assessment at a future date unless it forfeits its federal highway funds or unless the federal government changes its rules.

    The amount of the toll is still being discussed.  To date, $3.50 per gantry, with a maximum of $30.00 charged for crossing the state, has been publicized; but a definite toll amount cannot be decided upon until lawmakers determine how much revenue bonding will be assumed to address the state’s bridge infrastructure problem and at what interest rate.

    The legislature is expected to address the toll proposal in January or early February. Below is a list of the proposed gantry locations:




    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. 7002AN ACT RELATING TO CRIMINAL OFFENSES (Restricts the installation, concealment, or placement of an electronic tracking device in or on a motor vehicle, and adds electronic tracking devices to the definition of 'domestic violence' under the 'Domestic Violence Protection Act'.)


    House Bill No. 7005AN ACT RELATING TO COURTS AND CIVIL PROCEDURE--PROCEDURE GENERALLY - CAUSES OF ACTION (Creates a cause of action for employees who are discharged or otherwise sanctioned by an employer on account of being required to attend court or other hearing.)


    House Bill No. 7007AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY - LICENSING OF MASSAGE THERAPISTS (Enables any city or town by ordinance to regulate the opening, the presence, the location, and operation of any massage business or parlor within the municipality.)


    House Bill No. 7010AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION - SALES AND USE TAXES - LIABILITY AND COMPUTATION (Provides a sales/use tax holiday on August 6, 2016, only subject to renewal/continuation by the general assembly for future years thereafter.)


    House Bill No. 7047AN ACT RELATING TO BUSINESSES AND PROFESSIONS - ELECTRICIANS (Includes maintenance of certain electrical components within the law governing the licensing of electricians.)


    House Bill No. 7070AN 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.)