An Update from the State House


    Chamber Supports Fire Safety Bill

    S.2213, An Act Relating to Health and Safety was heard in the Senate Committee on Housing and Municipal Government last week.  The bill bans insurance adjusters, contractors and restoration companies from the site of a fire for 24 hours following the fire department’s release of the premises back to the owner/occupant, unless the entity is with the owner/occupant.  The legislation is meant to maintain the integrity of the fire investigation and to give the owner time to look through the fire site before various interested parties solicit business or show up.  The Chamber supports the passage of S.2213.


    Senate Bill Addresses Car Stored Information

    The Chamber is in the process of reviewing S.2055, An Act Relating to Motor and Other Vehicles – Consumer Car Information and Choice Act.  In previous years the legislation was supported by AAA, and opposed by the car industry as well as the cellular phone industry.  S.2055 would allow, beginning in 2019, for the collection of data through a vehicle’s computerized equipment and would further provide that information to certain entities for their use.  Accessible information would include items such as VINs, diagnostic trouble codes and sensor data, speed, distance braking, acceleration, steering information, seat belt use, air bag deployment, collision information, geo-location, miles driven, fuel level and pressure, tire pressure, battery condition and odometer information.  Supporters of the bill suggest this information would be helpful to consumers by allowing more companies to be able to repair the vehicle when trouble arises, and would allow insurance companies to have more accurate information when accidents occur.  Opponents argue the bill places the vehicle owner at risk from hackers and exposes them to unwanted sales pitches for products and services.  Lastly, the auto industry has stated that existing car models are not equipped to provide this information; so Rhode Island specific vehicles would have to be built to comply with the law. http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText16/SenateText16/S2055.pdf


    House Finance Committee Take up Unemployment Tax and Minimum Wage

    On Thursday, March 10th at approximately 4:30pm, the House Finance Committee will be taking testimony on Article 13 and Article 16 of the Governor’s budget.   Article 13 raises the minimum wage from $9.60 to $10.10 per hour effective January 1, 2017.  If passed, this increase would mark the fifth year in a row that the minimum wage has been increased by the state.   http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText16/HouseText16/Article-013.pdf.   Article 16 addresses Unemployment Insurance (UI) and Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI).  Under the proposed article, the UI tax would go from rate schedule I to a modified rate schedule H, saving businesses $30.0 million a year beginning in calendar year 2017.  The savings are projected to increase to $40.0 million a year starting in calendar year 2019.  The Article also establishes a TDI fraud program and reduces the time allowable for an employee to file a TDI claim from 1 year to 90 days.  http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText16/HouseText16/Article-016.pdf


    Carbon Tax on House Environment Committee Agenda

    The House Environment and Natural Resources Committee is meeting Thursday at approximately 4:30 to take testimony on H.7325, An Act Relating to Health and Safety – Energize Rhode Island:  Clean Energy Investment and Carbon Pricing Act of 2016.  The bill establishes a fee on companies that sell fossil fuels in the state, paid at the point of sale within the state for consumption or distribution within the state.  Industry experts estimate the increased cost of gasoline to be between 13.2 - 14.5 cents per gallon and between 15.3 – 16.9 cents per gallon for diesel fuel.  Calculations for other fossil fuels are still being calculated.


    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. 7788AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION - RHODE ISLAND SALES AND USE TAX REIMBURSEMENT ACT (Provides that in the event sales and use tax revenue exceeds projections, then in such event the tax administrator shall reduce the sales tax rate by one percent (1%) until the end of the fiscal year.)


    House Bill No. 7795AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION - SALES AND USE TAXES - LIABILITY AND COMPUTATION (Increases the amount of funds distributed to the city or town where meals and beverages are sold from one percent (1%) in FY 2016 to eight percent (8%) in FY 2024 annually at a rate of 1% per fiscal year budget surplus in corresponding fiscal year.)


    House Bill No. 7813AN ACT RELATING TO TOWNS AND CITIES -- BLACKSTONE VALLEY WASTEWATER TREATMENT AUTHORITY ACT (Establishes the Blackstone Valley Wastewater Treatment Authority, and would prescribe its powers and duties.)


    House Bill No. 7871AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC UTILITIES AND CARRIERS - TAXICABS AND LIMITED PUBLIC MOTOR VEHICLES (Permits private cause of action by taxicab certificate holders against violations of the law or rules governing taxicab regulation.)


    House Bill No. 7874AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC UTILITIES AND CARRIERS - PUBLIC MOTOR VEHICLES (Prohibits the operator of a public motor vehicle from transporting any passenger unless the pickup time is prearranged at least two (2) hours before the actual pickup.)


    House Bill No. 7884AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION - BUSINESS CORPORATION TAX (Reduces the rate of tax on the net income of business corporations from seven percent (7%) to six percent (6%).)


    Senate Bill No. 2503AN ACT RELATING TO PROPERTY -- COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE BROKEN LIEN (Creates an avenue to challenge the legal viability of a recorded commercial real estate broker's notice of lien for their unpaid and owing commercial real estate sales commission bill.)


    Senate Bill No. 2527AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY (Prohibits retail sales establishments from making available plastic checkout bags, or plastic water bottles or expanded polystyrene disposable food containers at the point of sale.)


    Senate Bill No. 2539AN ACT RELATING TO BUSINESSES AND PROFESSIONS - CONTRACTORS’ REGISTRATION AND LICENSING BOARD (Establishes the criminal penalty for violating a contractors' board final order by the amount of the monetary judgment imposed.)


    Senate Bill No. 2543AN ACT RELATING TO PROPERTY -- FORM AND EFFECT OF CONVEYANCES (Amends certain provisions relative to mortgage transfers and restricts the recording of mortgages in anyone's name other than the holder of the note secured by the mortgage.)