An Update from the State House


    Powdered Alcohol Ban Legislation Takes One More Legislative Step Forward


    H.7026, An Act Relating to Alcoholic Beverages passed the Senate Judiciary Committee Tuesday April 5th.  The Senate version S.2059, was passed by the House Judiciary Committee on April 6th.  Both bills ban the sale and purchase of powdered alcohol in the state.  The sale of product, which is expected to begin this summer, has the potential to hurt restaurants, entertainment venues and hotels as customers purchase soda or order water and then create their own cocktail by adding powder.  The use of the product also raises liability issues for businesses.  An individual could order one drink, appear intoxicated so that the bartender refuses to serve another drink, order a soda and add powdered alcohol thus becoming more intoxicated.  If the person has an accident while driving on the way home, any injured party could sue the business.  The Chamber supports passage of both H.7026 and S.2059. 



    Bill Prohibits Employers From Refusing to Hire Medical Marijuana Cardholders


    On April 12th, the House Judiciary Committee will take testimony on H.7807, An Act Relating to Food and Drugs – The Edward O. Hawkins and Thomas C. Slater Medical Marijuana Act which prohibits employers from refusing to hire, discharging or otherwise discriminating against any individual on account of their medical use of marijuana. An employer could not discharge or penalize someone for using medical marijuana as long as the employee was not impaired on the employment site or during the hours of employment.  A person would be entitled to file a civil case, asking for injunctive relief as well as other equitable damages and could receive attorney’s fees if successful.  http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText16/HouseText16/H7807.pdf



    House Labor Committee to Hear Two Wage Violation Penalty Bills


    On April 14th, at 3:30 p.m., the House Labor Committee will take testimony on two bills:  H.7628, An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations – Minimum Wages; and H.8026, An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations – Payment of Wages.  Both bills address penalties for employers that fail to pay wages due to an employee.


    H.7628 states that if an employer is found guilty of failing to pay the proper wage at the proper time, and that employer fails to pay wages and fines due within 30 days of the final decision, then the employer’s business license can be revoked until the amount due is paid or a payment agreement is entered into and compliance with the agreement is underway.  The bill also gives an employee the right to bring a civil action for injunctive relief and/or actual damages within 3 years of the violation.  Should the employer lose the civil case, the employee would be entitled to two times the amount of the wages owed as well as attorney fees.  If the employer won the case, the employer would be entitled to attorney’s fees.  http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText16/HouseText16/H7628.pdf



    H.8026 allows an employee to place a lien on property for the amount of wages owed and penalties.  To establish the lien, the employee must first notify the employer by registered or certified mail, providing to the employer the amount due for wages and a general description of the property to be charged with the lien.  The employer than has 30 days from the date of receipt of the notice to file a dispute in superior court.  Once the employer files the dispute, the court would place a temporary lien on the property and would have to hold hearings on the dispute within the next 30 days.  If the court finds in favor of the employee, the lien remains intact and the employer is charged attorney’s fees for the employee.  If the court finds that the employee was acting in bad faith, or with an intent to harass the employer, then the employer can be awarded attorney’s fees.  Finally if the employer fails to file a dispute of the lien within 30 days of receiving the notice, then the lien is established by default.  The wage lien is given priority status.  http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText16/HouseText16/H8026.pdf




    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. 8036

    BY  Malik, Azzinaro

    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO MILITARY AFFAIRS AND DEFENSE - EMPLOYMENT OF VETERANS (Allows private employers to adopt employment policy providing preference in hiring/promotion/both to veterans who served on active duty in U.S. Armed Forces and received honorable/general discharge.)

    House Bill No. 8037

    BY  Malik, Azzinaro

    ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO MILITARY AFFAIRS AND DEFENSE (Protects jobs of National Guard members of any state who work in Rhode Island and allows private employers to adopt a veterans preference.)


    House Bill No. 8044AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC UTILITIES AND CARRIERS -- TRANSPORTATION NETWORK COMPANY SERVICES (Creates a comprehensive regulatory scheme for motor vehicle passenger services provided by transportation network companies which use digital network as software application services to connect passengers to transportation providers.)