An Update from the State House


    House Labor Hearing

    On Thursday, February 25th, the House Labor Committee will be taking testimony on the following bills at 3:30pm in room 205 at the State House.

    H.7505 – This bill would bar employers from deducting any monies from an employee’s pay unless the deduction is specifically authorized in Rhode Island General Laws Title 28, or otherwise required by law.  A few exceptions are noted: reimbursement for breakage, cash shortages or losses, or penalties for tardiness, misconduct or as a result of an employee quitting without notice.    The Chamber opposes H.7505.

    H.7515 – The legislation, entitled Fair Workweek of Rhode Island”, would require employers to:

    1.  Give, in written form at the time of hiring, each non-supervisory employee a good faith estimate of the hours and the days and times the employee is expected to work each week

    2.  Give, prior to the first day of work, a written work schedule for the first 14 days of work

    3.  Give employees a written 14 day schedule of work every 2 weeks thereafter

    Employees have the right to refuse any work not included in the written schedule without employer retaliation.  In addition, the bill specifically states: “Employers shall not determine schedules based on performance metrics.”  The bill gives employees the right to request flexible work schedules and allows them to switch shifts with other employees without employer retaliation; and also demands employers pay employees a “minimum retention pay” of $150 per two week period.  H.7515 can be found at http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText16/HouseText16/H7515.pdf  The Chamber opposes H.7515


    H.7634, http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText16/HouseText16/H7634.pdf addresses the same issues as H.7515.  The Chamber opposes H.7634.


    What’s in the Governor’s Budget Proposal

    Over the following weeks, “Under The Dome” will feature overviews of sections of the Governor’s budget.  In this edition, we look at Articles 2-4.


    Article 2 – Relating to Public Finance Management Board

    Article 2 seeks to place additional requirements on public entities to further enhance the transparency of debt issuance.  Under current law, public bodies are required to give 30 day notice to the Public Finance Management Board prior to the sale of debt issue.  Article 2 adds a new requirement on the issuer of debt.  Within 30 days after the date of final sale, the issuer would be required to submit to the Board, an information form created by the Board. If the issuer fails to submit the required information, a fine of $250 per day would be levied on the issuer.

    Article 3 – Relating to Public Officers and Employees

    While most of Article 3 addresses hiring practices, salary increase procedures and employee appeals, section 7 adds language to allow retirees to elect a cash buyout settlement, in lieu of their state health insurance, if those individuals are covered by non-state health insurance.  The opt-out can be for any length of time up to one year and can be renewed.

    Article 4 – Relating to Government Organization

    Article 4 establishes and Office of Diversity, Equity and Opportunity within the Department of Administration.  The office would be charged with creating a statewide diversity plan including programs addressing equal opportunities, minority business entities and supplier diversity.  Additionally, the plan is expected to encourage “bias free methods” in the hiring process, performance reviews and promotions.  Compliance with federal diversity rules and regulations would also fall under the purview of this new office.


    Below is a list of new legislation that was filed this week.  The list contains bill numbers, links to the legislation, and summary explanations. 


    Senate Bill No. 2409AN ACT RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT -- EMINENT DOMAIN (Prohibits the use of eminent domain powers for economic development purposes.)


    Senate Bill No. 2412AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS (Establishes the E-Verify compliance act which would require all non-governmental employers within the state with three (3) or more employees to apply to participate in the federal E-Verify program and to agree to participate in the program, if accepted.)


    Senate Bill No. 2418AN ACT RELATING TO COMMERCIAL LAW - GENERAL REGULATORY PROVISIONS (Authorizes a civil action against persons who file frivolous patent infringement claims.)


    Senate Bill No. 2423AN 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 pursuant to a validly issued subpoena.)


    Senate Bill No. 2432AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION (Provides for the imposition of a two percent (2%) tax increase on personal income over two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) commencing January 1, 2017.)


    Senate Bill No. 2434AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION - SALES AND USE TAX (Eliminates the sales tax on taxi services.)


    Senate Bill No. 2474AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS - CAREGIVER TEMPORARY DISABILITY INSURANCE BENEFITS (Adds siblings to class of workers who can receive temporary disability for caregiver services.)


    Senate Bill No. 2475AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- MINIMUM WAGES (Grants employees several additional avenues to help them collect their wages from nonpaying employers, set forth penalties for nonpayment of wages by an employer, and implements a new procedure for filing of claims.)