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    Legislative Update from your
    Chamber of Commerce Coalition

     

    House and Senate Recess

    Realizing an impasse was insurmountable, the Senate recessed and the House followed, ending the 2015 legislative session…for now.  Major bills such as the Governor’s toll proposal, a Pawsox stadium, and the regulation and taxing of Uber vehicles were left unresolved, while many other bills were left in limbo, having passed both branches but never officially transmitted to the Governor.  Because the Senate and House “recessed”, they could come back into session at any time, but most discussions refer to a September session – after the Labor Day holiday.

    Some of the issues that successfully passed the last days of session and were transmitted to the Governor already are as follows:

    Senate Bill No. 334  SUB BAN ACT RELATING TO BUSINESSES AND PROFESSIONS - MOTOR VEHICLE GLASS REPAIR AND REPLACEMENT (Creates a procedure for the licensing of motor vehicle glass repair or replacement shops.)

    Senate Bill No. 276  SUB A as amendedAN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- FAIR EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES (Prohibits employers from discriminating against, and failing to provide reasonable accommodations for, employees due to pregnancy or medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth.)  The Governor signed this bill and it is now 2015 Public Law Chapter 129.

    Senate Bill No. 134  SUB BAN ACT RELATING TO CRIMINAL OFFENSES - IDENTITY THEFT PROTECTION (Creates the Identify Theft Protection Act of 2015, to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use, modification, destruction or disclosure, and to preserve the confidentiality and integrity of such information.)

    Bills that became effective this week without the Governor’s signature…

    Senate Bill No. 918AN ACT RELATING TO PROPERTY -- REVERSE MORTGAGES (Allows a reverse mortgage lender to order a credit report and other information for a loan application prior to a mortgagor completing a counseling program.)  This bill became effective without the Governor’s signature on June 25th. It is now Chapter 128 of the 2015 Public Laws.

    House Bill No. 5635AN ACT RELATING TO PROPERTY - RESIDENTIAL SECURITY DEPOSITS (Allows landlords to withhold from a security deposit paid by a vacating tenant, reasonable cleaning and trash disposal expenses they have incurred.)  This bill is now Chapter 134 of the 2015 Public Laws.  It became effective without the Governor’s signature June 26th.  The Senate version S.440 became effective without the Governor’s signature June 25th.  It is now Chapter 125 of the 2015 Public Laws.

     

     

     

    Bills left in limbo….

    House Bill No. 5668  SUB AAN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY -- THE RHODE ISLAND CESSPOOL ACT OF 2007 (Amend the Rhode Island cesspool act of 2007 by requiring cesspool to be removed within one year of the date of transfer of a property.)  The Senate passed the House bill in concurrence so it could be transmitted to the Governor.  The House also passed the Senate companion (S.369 SubA) bill in concurrence.

    Senate Bill No. 697 SUB A, AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC UTILITIES AND CARRIERS – PUBLIC MOTOR VEHICLES {LC2116/1} (Expands the definition of public motor vehicles to include transportation services licensed home care nursing care providers and facilities, assisted living providers, licensed adult day services as well as programs for inclusive care for the elderly.) The House passed the bill in concurrence with the Senate.  It has not been transmitted to the Governor at this time

    Senate Bill No. 696, AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC UTILITIES AND CARRIERS – TAXICABS AND LIMITED PUBLIC MOTOR VEHICLES {LC1969/1} (Eliminates requirement that taxicabs can be operated only by owners or employees during the first twelve (12) month period that the vehicle is in service and allows for leasing of such vehicles.) The House passed the bill in concurrence with the Senate.  It has not been transmitted to the Governor at this time

    Senate Bill No. 1005, AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC UTILITIES AND CARRIERS - TRANSPORTATION NETWORK COMPANY SERVICES {LC2915/1} (Establishes state regulation over transportation network companies, transportation network services, and transportation network drivers as well as the revision of taxi-cab or limited public motor coach regulations.)  The House passed the bill in concurrence with the Senate.  It has not been transmitted to the Governor at this time

    Watch your email in the upcoming weeks!  The Chamber will be sending information concerning new laws as the legislative process continues through the transmission of bills to the Governor for her consideration.

     

    Expansion of Hotel Definition – Effective JULY 1, 2015

    As was reported last week, the budget passed by the legislature included the Governor’s proposal to expand the definition of “hotel” to include bed and breakfasts, Airbnb rooms, and anyone else that rents a dwelling for less than 30 days to transient customers.  THIS NEW TAX BECOMES EFFECTIVE JULY 1, 2015.  The Division of Taxation held an informational session and announced at that meeting the following:  If a written lease has been signed prior to July 1, 2015, and the client will be using the property in 2015, that lease WILL NOT be taxable under the new law.  For example, if a customer signed a lease in March to rent a property for two weeks starting July 3rd, and the customer paid $1000 as a deposit and will pay $1000 when they pick up the keys on July 3rd, NO TAX will be assessed.  This is an extremely important ruling as it would be nearly impossible to register each rental company or individual home owner prior to July 1st.  The Division is working on emergency regulations concerning how to register with the Division and how to pay the tax that will be assessed.  However, those regulations cannot be formally promulgated until the Governor actually signs the budget.  The budget was transmitted to the Governor June 25th, so execution of the legislation is expected soon.  If you own a bed and breakfast or rent rooms or a house to vacationers, please watch your mail and email for updates on how to comply with the new law!

     

    Minimum Wage Bill Signed by Governor

    On June 17th, Governor Raimondo signed into law the minimum wage bill, now Chapter 73 of the 2015 Public Laws.  The new law increases the minimum wage to $9.60 per hour effective January 1, 2016. Click here to view the bill.