Chairman, Mark DeVine participates in a Business Walk on May 7th in the East Bay to kick off Small Business Week, meeting with businesses who gave open and honest feedback. The hope is that this walk helped community leaders to better understand the needs of the business community, so they can make more informed decisions and provide resource and support to help business retention and growth. www.connectgreaternewport.com
Meet Your Legislators at 'Coffee and Commerce'
Speaker of the House of Representatives Nicholas Mattiello will be joining with East Bay area legislators for a “Coffee and Commerce” breakfast event, hosted by the East Bay Chamber of Commerce. Held Friday, Jan. 25, at 7:30 a.m. at the Events Room (directly behind Tom’s Market) at 16 Cutler St., Warren, the event is open to chamber members and the public.
Admission is $5 for chamber members and $10 for guests.
Continental breakfast will be provided by Bristol Bagel Works
YOU MUST PRE-REGISTER: Click Here
Guests will have a chance to listen to and ask questions of their legislators, including Speaker Mattiello, Sen. Walter Felag, Rep. Ken Marshall, Rep. Jason Knight, Rep. Liana Cassar, Sen. Jim Seveney and Rep. Donovan
Congratulations to the 2018 Award Recipients honored at the East Bay Chamber Annual Awards Ceremony Oct. 17, 2018 at the Ramada Banquet and Conference Center.
L-R: Chamber Member of the Year Stephanie Borden, Emerging Leader Juliana Olmstead, Citizens of the Year Angela and Joseph Sousa, Business of the Year Jimmy Stuart's Floor Covering & Cleaning
The East Bay Chamber of Commerce would like to congratulate all the Winners of the Annual Restaurant Challenge, Beer & Wine Tasting Event held on March 23rd, 2018 at St. Andrews School in Barrington. Over One Hundred guests attended and voted for their favorites. Favorite Overall Winner was Richardson’s Kitchen and Bar, Best Appetizer: 401 Gourmet Caterers, Best Entrée: Richardson’s Kitchen and Bar, Best Pizza: Brickyard Pizza, Best Dessert: Crepelicious, Best Gluten Free: Fit Dad Cooking, Best Presentation: Merienda Tapas Cicchetti & Wine Bar. Also participating were The Lobster Pot, Bristol Oyster Bar, Palm’s Sauces, and The Revival Craft Kitchen and Bar. Thank you to all who made this event a great success!
Thank you to our Sponsors: BankFive, Navigant Credit Union, Farmer & First, CPA's, Ramada, and East Bay Newspapers
Overall Favorite Grand Winner: Richardson's Kitchen & Bar
For more photos click here
An Update from the State House
Unless you were on vacation last week, you probably have heard that the legislature ended on an abrupt note Friday. The Senate amended Article 11 of the budget (Car Tax Phase Out) to require a freeze of the phase out of the tax if at any time the reduction in tax caused the State to dip into the rainy day fund. When the House discovered the amendment was going to be offered, the Speaker closed the House desk, meaning no new business could be transmitted to the House from the Senate or from any House Committee as well. The budget remains in the Senate awaiting transmission to the House. Because it technically remains in the Senate, the Senate could reconsider the vote on the budget, amend it back to reflect the way it was drafted prior to the amendment and then wait for the House to open the desk to receive it. Alternatively, the House could decide to open the desk, accept the amended budget and vote on it.
If no budget is passed, the state will continue to operate. Under law, in the event no budget is passed, spending will continue at a level equal to the last fiscal year budget. Rhode Island is not alone. 9 states have failed to pass a budget as of July 1, 2017 (Illinois has been without a budget for two years). Two more states passed a budget and are awaiting signatures from their Governors.
Until the impasse is bridged, bills will remain in limbo – creating a positive and a negative outcome depending upon your position on the many bills that began moving the last couple days of session. Bills are not dead, because the legislature could decide to come back into session at which point all bills would be alive. Should the legislature choose not to return, then all bills would die on December 31st.
Future issues of Under the Dome will only be written when there is news to report. Until then, please have a safe and enjoyable summer!
Two of the major bills in play were the paid leave bills – S.290 and H.5413. On June 29th, the House passed its version of paid leave (H.5413 SubA). For the business community, this bill was more palatable, although still not without its challenges. The House bill contained a state preemption of municipal ordinances so that the State of Rhode Island would have one set of paid leave rules for all businesses. The Senate version specifically stated that each city or town could adopt ordinances calling for more generous paid leave benefits for employees of companies located within their borders. The House version more clearly stated that employees must provide notice to employers when they wish to take paid leave, provided the employer has a written policy concerning how such notice must be given. Both versions still contained language addressing paid leave for seasonal employees that utilized a municipal statute in state law. The use of that statute appeared to bring seasonal municipal employees under the requirements of paid leave while other municipal employees were exempt. Lastly, the House version exempted union construction companies from the paid leave act.
On June 30th, the House Labor Committee amended the senate version to mirror its House version, thus creating S.290 SubB. The Senate amended H.5413 SubA later that evening on the Senate floor by reinstating most of the language from S.290 SubA. So where are the bills now? S.290 SubB is in the House Labor Committee waiting for the House desk to be opened for transmittal. H.5413 is in the Senate awaiting the opening of the House desk for transmittal. The bills are very different.
Bills Transmitted to the Governor
A couple bills of interest were transmitted to the Governor prior to the suspension of legislative activities.
S.350 SubB, An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations – Payment of Wages, bars employers from deducting from any employee’s wages, amounts for “spoilage or breakage, shortages or losses, and fines or penalties for tardiness, misconduct or quitting.” Federal law already prohibits deducting from wages for these items from many employees. The original version of S.350 would have barred the deduction of any amount of wages unless specifically allowed under federal or state law. The original language would have barred the deduction for health insurance premiums, gym memberships, charitable deductions, etc.
H.5397 SubA and S.388 SubA, Acts Relating to Property – Mortgage Foreclosure, increase the penalty on financial institutions for failure to file a foreclosure deed within the required 45 days of the purchase of the property at foreclosure sale. The penalty increases from $40 per month to $300 per month up to an aggregate of $2000.00. This is meant to provide municipalities with the ability to determine who owns properties for tax purposes and upkeep.
Manuel J. Batlle, Providence Center Director at the RI Small Business Development Center, will be holding office hours at the East Bay Chamber on Thursday mornings.
Manuel is a serial entrepreneur, college professor and small business counselor. He holds a MBA from LSU, attended The Executive Program at the University of Virginia and is a Certified Global Business Professional (CGBP). He has C level managerial experience with Fortune 500 companies in the Wine & Spirit Industry and in Food Manufacturing. Manuel was the 2016 State Star for Rhode Island. His area of interest are Minority Owned Business, Food Manufacturing, Agribusiness, Wine, and Spirits. Manuel is a native of the Dominican Republic, and is responsible for the Providence Region, which includes Warren and Barrington.
To contact Manuel, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 401-490-0378.
An Update from the State House
Car Excise Tax Proposal Scheduled for Hearing
Tuesday will be a big day at the State House as the Finance Committee hears testimony on H.6267, An Act Relating to Taxation – Excise on Motor Vehicles and Trailers. This is the first big step to keep a promise the Speaker made to his constituents during the election last year. The Governor applauded the effort made to address a big issue in the State; and Senate President Dominick Ruggerio filed the bill in the Senate – S.935 – signaling that the excise tax will likely be included in the budget.
Marijuana Headed for a Study Commission
While legislative issues are never 100% settled until the gavel goes down the last night of session, it does appear that marijuana will not be legalized this year. Proponents and Opponents continue to argue over the Colorado experience and what it means. If legalized and taxed, marijuana could yield significant revenue, but at the same time, could cost the State of Rhode Island up to two-thirds of the revenue raised for the purpose of paying for administration, law enforcement and treatment programs. On Tuesday, the House Judiciary Committee will vote on H.5551SubA, a study commission that is charged with reporting its findings to the legislature by March 1 2018.
Burrillville Energy Plant Scheduled for Hearing
The Senate Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing for Tuesday June 13th, to accept testimony on three bills: S.714, An Act Relating to Taxation – Burrillville Property Tax; S.756, An Act Relating to State Affairs and Government – Energy Facility Siting Act; and S.769, An Act Relating to State Affairs and Government – Energy Facility Siting Act. Under current law, the Town Council of Burrillville may pass a resolution or ordinance to tax the personal and real property of any energy generating facility. S.714 changes the law to say personal and real property IS TAXABLE, meaning the Town Council has no discretion on the matter. Both S.756 and S.769 look as if they are state-wide initiatives, but are really meant to stop the Burrillville Power Plant project. S.756 states that the energy facility siting board could not proceed to a final hearing or issue a final decision on the siting of a plant if any one of the agencies on the board declares it is unable to form and advisory opinion due to lack of information (which is broadly defined). S.769 changes the number of members on the energy facility siting board. There are currently three (3) members. S.769 would require that an additional two (2) members from a host community be named to the board when the board is reviewing a potential energy generation plant.
Rhode Island’s Tax Structure
The House Finance Committee met last week for 4½ hours listening to taxi cab drivers, pet service owners, advocates for women, farmers, and flea market owners all asking for relief of the sales tax burdens, leaving more than one legislator asking, “how did we get here?” Rhode Island’s sales tax policy did appear rather random as to what is taxable and what is not taxable. That said, with the State facing a sizable budget deficit, it is difficult to see how relief might be provided to the advocates who attended the hearing, but their message certainly was heard. One proposed tax increase was H.5787, An Act Relating to Taxation – Sugary Drinks. H.5787 places a tax on drinks based on the sugar content per ounce: Tier 1: Beverages with less than five grams (5g) of sugar per twelve fluid ounces would not be taxed; Tier 2: Beverages with more than five grams (5g) but less than twenty grams (20g) of sugar per twelve fluid ounces (12 fl. oz.) would be taxed at a rate of one cent ($0.01) per ounce. Tier 3: Beverages with twenty grams (20g) of sugar or more per twelve (12) fluid ounces would be taxed at a rate of two cents ($0.02) per ounce. Medical drinks, pure fruit juices and milks are exempt. The tax is to be paid by the distributor; but if the distributor fails to pay the tax, then the retailer is responsible for payment. Many health care advocates testified in favor of the bill, citing the need to curb childhood obesity. Opponents of the bill – including the Chamber – testified against the bill pointing out the complexity of the tax and the right of individuals to choose what they want to consume. Proponents believe H.5787 would raise at least $30 million annually.
The following new bills were filed:
House Bill No. 6267, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION -- EXCISE ON MOTOR VEHICLES AND TRAILERS (Provides for the reduction and elimination of the motor vehicle excise tax. Also provides that cities, towns, and fire districts would be reimbursed for the revenues lost by the reduction and elimination of the excise tax.)
Senate Bill No. 922, AN ACT RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT -- REBUILD RHODE ISLAND TAX CREDIT (Adds a definition for "manufacturer" for purposes of providing a tax credit application exemption to certain projects under the RI Tax Credit Act to include occupants that are manufacturers.)
Senate Bill No. 929, AN ACT RELATING TO BUSINESSES AND PROFESSIONS – CONTRACTORS’ REGISTRATION AND LICENSING BOARD (Requires an applicant for any license or registration issued by the contractors’ registration and licensing board to undergo a national criminal records check.)
House Resolution No. 6278, HOUSE RESOLUTION CREATING A SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE COMMISSION TO BE KNOWN AS "GROWING TOURISM IN THE STATE OF RHODE ISLAND" (Creates an 18 member "Growing Tourism in the State of Rhode Island" commission to examine, evaluate and provide recommendations to manage and grow Rhode Island's tourism economy, and reports back by 1/5/19, and expires on 3/5/19.)
House Bill No. 6279, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION -- LEVY AND ASSESSMENT OF LOCAL TAXES (Amends from ten (10) years to twelve (12) years the period which the city of Central Falls may authorize a stabilization of taxes on qualifying property located in the city of Central Falls.)