Chamber Connections BLOG
Chamber Connections BLOG
This Week At the State House
Governor Raimondo Update
On Tuesday, the Commerce Committee in Washington DC is expected to take testimony from Governor Raimondo concerning her nomination for Commerce Secretary by President Biden. The process could occur more quickly than originally reported, even potentially turning over the state’s reins to Lt Governor Dan McKee the first week of February. McKee’s transition team is already interviewing individuals for cabinet positions. Elizabeth Tanner (Director, Department of Business Regulation) is the one current executive branch official on the transition team.
Still Awaiting House Committee Assignments
The House hopes to formally announce committee assignments this week. The House Committee on Rules meets Tuesday following session to vote on a number of rule changes:
Once the rules are adopted, Committee assignments can be announced.
Senate Finance Committee to Hear from Department of Revenue
On Thursday, at 4:00 pm, the Senate Finance Committee will receive a briefing from the Department of Revenue. The following issues are on the agenda: Current Revenues as of December 2020; A Comparison of Rhode Island Revenues to Other States; Revenue Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic; Federal Tax Law Changes Included in the Coronavirus Relief Packages; and Revenue Trends and Projections. The briefing will be live streamed at
The following new bills have been filed:
House Bill No. 5038 Corvese, AN ACT RELATING TO COURTS AND CIVIL PROCEDURE - PROCEDURE GENERALLY - LEVY AND SALE ON EXECUTION (Exempts from attachment five hundred dollars ($500) in savings or deposits in financial or banking institutions.)
House Bill No. 5052 McNamara, AN ACT RELATING TO INSURANCE -- COVID-19 INSURANCE RELIEF ACT (Requires an insurer to provide business interruption coverage due to the global pandemic COVID-19.)
House Bill No. 5054 Solomon, Kazarian, AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC UTILITIES AND CARRIERS -- INTERNET SERVICE PROVIDERS -- NET NEUTRALITY (Requires Internet service providers to follow Internet service neutrality requirements.)
House Bill No. 5057 Place, Azzinaro, Roberts, Quattrocchi, Vella-Wilkinson, AN ACT RELATING TO BUSINESSES AND PROFESSIONS -- MILITARY SPOUSE LICENSURE (Provides issuance of occupational licenses for military members and spouses stationed in Rhode Island.)
House Bill No. 5064 McNamara, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION -- SALES AND USE TAXES -- LIABILITY AND COMPUTATION (Exempts self-employed sole practicing investigators operating independently from any partnership, corporation, limited liability company or association from the sales tax imposed on services.)
House Bill No. 5072 McNamara, AN ACT RELATING TO INSURANCE -- ACCESSIBLE RESIDENCE MODIFICATIONS (Allows health insurance plans to provide coverage for accessible residence modifications determined to be medically necessary.)
House Bill No. 5080 (by request) Solomon, AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY -- LIFE-SAVING ALLERGY MEDICATION--STOCK SYRINGE EPINEPHRINE AUTO-INJECTORS--EMERGENCY ADMINISTRATION (Requires owners or operators of enclosed public space holding 300 or more people to have available epinephrine auto injectors and personnel trained to administer them.)
Senate Bill No. 21 Cano, Kallman, Acosta, Valverde, DiPalma, AN ACT RELATING TO FOOD AND DRUGS -- RHODE ISLAND FOOD, DRUGS, AND COSMETICS ACT (Limits the amount of fees charged by a third-party food delivery service to fifteen percent (15%).)
Senate Bill No. 27 DiPalma, Rogers, Coyne, Paolino, Archambault, AN ACT RELATING TO MOTOR AND OTHER VEHICLES -- PERSONAL DELIVERY DEVICES (Establishes rules and regulations concerning the use and registration of personal delivery devices and mobile carrying devices.)
Senate Bill No. 28 Euer, Lawson, Murray, Miller, DiMario, AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC UTILITIES AND CARRIERS -- TRANSPORTATION NETWORK COMPANY SERVICES--WHEELCHAIR LIFT EQUIPMENT VEHICLES (Requires ride sharing services to provide wheelchair lift equipment vehicles as part of their fleet; establishes accessibility program for persons with disabilities in unserved or underserved geographic areas of the state.)
Senate Bill No. 36 Miller, Sosnowski, Quezada, Euer, Valverde, AN ACT RELATING TO FOOD AND DRUGS -- DISPOSABLE FOOD SERVICE CONTAINERS (Prohibits a covered establishment from preparing, selling, processing or providing food or beverages in or on a disposable food service container that is composed in whole or in part of polystyrene foam.)
Senate Bill No. 37 Ruggerio, Sosnowski, Euer, Coyne, Kallman, AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY - PLASTIC WASTE REDUCTION ACT (Creates the "Plastic Waste Reduction Act" designed to reduce the use of plastic bags by retail establishments by offering recyclable bag options and providing penalties for violations.)
Senate Bill No. 46 Bell, Mack, Anderson, Calkin, Mendes
ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION (Creates an agreement to limit corporate incentives.)
Senate Bill No. 61 Picard, AN ACT RELATING TO INSURANCE -- INSURERS' REHABILITATION AND LIQUIDATION ACT -- INSURANCE RECEIVERSHIP MODEL ACT (Adopts a portion of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) model act with respect to receiverships, specifically with regards to how derivative contracts are treated in cases of insurance receiverships.)
Senate Bill No. 62 Goldin, Valverde, DiMario, Mendes, Miller, AN ACT RELATING TO BUSINESSES AND PROFESSIONS -- CONFIDENTIALITY OF HEALTH CARE COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION ACT (Requires health insurers to accommodate the request for communication in the form and format requested by the insured.)
Marshall Building & Remodeling is proud to announce that it has earned the home service industry’s coveted Angie’s List Super Service Award (SSA). This award honors service professionals who have maintained exceptional service ratings and reviews on Angie’s List in 2020.
“Despite the enormous challenges facing our service pros throughout 2020, our Angie’s List Super Service Award winners continued to provide exceptional customer service,” said Angie’s List Founder Angie Hicks. “These outstanding businesses have helped homeowners not only maintain their homes, but also evolve them into safe and comfortable spaces that can handle all the mess of life, work, school and entertainment under one roof. Our homeowners’ consistent positive reviews make it clear: these are the best pros in our network.”
Angie’s List Super Service Award 2020 winners have met strict eligibility requirements, which include maintaining an “A” rating in overall grade, recent grade and review period grade. The SSA winners must be in good standing with Angie’s List and undergo additional screening. Service company ratings are updated continually on Angie’s List as new, verified consumer reviews are submitted. Companies are graded on an A through F scale in multiple fields ranging from price to professionalism to punctuality.
Marshall Building & Remodeling
a: 152 Forbes St
a: Riverside, RI 02915
Last Week At the State House
Minimum Wage Bill Filed in Senate
The Senate sent a message loud and clear as it assigned the number S.1 to the minimum wage increase bill. Rhode Island’s current minimum wage, $11.50 per hour, went into effect October 1, 2020. S.1 proposes to increase the minimum wage to $12.25 on October 1, 2021, $13.00 on October 1, 2022, $14.00 on October 1, 2023 and $15.00 on October 1, 2024. Rhode Island has the 14th highest minimum wage in the country. (Although New York, at $12.50 for most of the state, is complicated, as NYC has its own rules for different employers.)
Massachusetts raised its minimum wage to $13.50 as of January 1, 2021 and will statutorily go to $14.25 January 1, 2022 and to $15.00 January 1, 2023. Massachusetts currently has the third highest minimum wage requirement in the country – following the District of Columbia ($15.00) and Washington state ($13.69). Connecticut is currently at $12.00 per hour and is set to go to $13.00 August 1, 2021; $14.00 July 1, 2022; and $15.00 June 1, 2023. Connecticut is tied for 9th highest minimum wage in the country.
President-elect Biden has called for an increase in the federal minimum wage which is $7.25 per hour. Eighteen states have a $7.25 per hour minimum wage.
Medical Marijuana in the Workplace
H.5021 has been introduced again in the House. The description is a little misleading, so the Chamber wanted to call it to your attention. The link to the bill can be found below. The legislation states that an employer cannot refuse to hire, or fire, or take any other action related to employment based on an employee’s possession of a medical marijuana card or for testing positive for marijuana. The bill addresses medical marijuana use, not adult non-medical marijuana use. H.5021 does allow an employer to take action if an employee possesses marijuana while working or if the employee is impaired during employment hours. The bill fails to carve out employees who must be “drug-free” under federal requirements. Any employee aggrieved under the bill would be entitled to retain her/his job, receive any amounts lost through the process in wages or benefits and to be paid his/her litigation costs that were incurred.
This Week At the State House
On Thursday, the Senate Finance Committee will be getting an update on the Federal CARES Act funding as well as a briefing surrounding additional federal aid passed by Congress in December that could provide options to the State’s budget. The virtual hearing will take place at 4:00pm and will be live streamed on http://www.rilegislature.gov/CapTV/Pages/default.aspx
The following new bills have been filed:
House Bill No. 5012 Slater, AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY -- NURSING HOME STAFFING AND QUALITY CARE ACT (Mandates minimum staffing levels and standards for quality care for nursing homes and their residents.)
House Bill No. 5013 Slater, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION -- PERSONAL INCOME TAX (Raises the earned income tax credit from fifteen percent (15%) to twenty percent (20%) for tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2021.)
House Resolution No. 5015 Slater, JOINT RESOLUTION MAKING AN APPROPRIATION OF $140,000 TO URBAN VENTURES (Authorizes the appropriation of the sum of one hundred and forty thousand dollars ($140,000) to Urban Ventures for operations and to implement activities assisting small businesses within the state of Rhode Island.)
House Resolution No. 5019 Lombardi, JOINT RESOLUTION CREATING A SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE COMMISSION TO STUDY AND ASSESS THE IMPLEMENTATION OF AN IMPROVED MEDICARE-FOR-ALL-TYPE SINGLE PAYER PROGRAM IN THE STATE OF RHODE ISLAND (Creates a 19 member commission to study and assess implementing an improved Medicare-for-all-type single payer program in RI, and who would report back to the Senate and House 1 year from the date of passage, and expire 2 years from the date of passage.)
House Bill No. 5021 Slater, AN ACT RELATING TO FOOD AND DRUGS -- THE EDWARD O. HAWKINS AND THOMAS C. SLATER MEDICAL MARIJUANA ACT (Prevents employers from refusing to hire or discriminating against individuals for marijuana use and positive test results.)
Senate Bill No. 1 Quezada, Ruggerio, McCaffrey, Goodwin, Cano, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- MINIMUM WAGES (Gradually increase the minimum wage from eleven dollars and fifty cents ($11.50) per hour to fifteen dollars ($15.00) per hour, over 4 years.)
Senate Bill No. 2 Goodwin, Ruggerio, McCaffrey, Lawson, Euer, AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY -- NURSING HOME STAFFING AND QUALITY CARE ACT (Mandates minimum staffing levels and standards for quality care for nursing homes and their residents.)
Senate Bill No. 4 Miller, Goldin, Valverde, Goodwin, Felag, AN ACT RELATING TO INSURANCE -- THE TELEMEDICINE COVERAGE ACT (Amends the provisions of the telemedicine coverage act and provide coverage for telemedicine under Rhode Island Medicaid.)
Senate Bill No. 5 Miller, Pearson, Lawson, Kallman, Lombardo, AN ACT RELATING TO INSURANCE -- INDIVIDUAL HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE (Requires individual health insurers, large group health insurers and small employer health insurers to provide coverage for ten (10) categories of essential health benefits listed in the act.)
SBA to Re-Open Paycheck Protection Program to Small Lenders on
Friday, January 15 - All Lenders on Tuesday, January 19The U.S. Small Business Administration, in consultation with the U.S. Treasury Department, will re-open the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan portal to PPP-eligible lenders with $1 billion or less in assets for First and Second Draw applications on Friday, January 15, 2021 at 9:00 a.m. EST.
The portal will fully open on Tuesday, January 19, 2021 to all participating PPP lenders to submit First and Second Draw loan applications to SBA.
Earlier in the week, SBA granted dedicated PPP access to Community Financial Institutions (CFIs) which include Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs), Certified Development Companies (CDCs), and Microloan Intermediaries as part of the agency’s ongoing efforts to reach underserved and minority small businesses.
On Friday, SBA will continue its emphasis on reaching smaller lenders and businesses by opening to approximately 5,000 more lenders, including community banks, credit unions, and farm credit institutions. Moreover, the agency also plans to have dedicated service hours for these smaller lenders after the portal fully re-opens next week.
First Draw PPP Loans are for those borrowers who have not received a PPP loan before August 8, 2020. The first round of the PPP, which ran from March to August 2020, was a historic success helping 5.2 million small businesses keep 51 million American workers employed.
Second Draw PPP Loans are for eligible small businesses with 300 employees or less, that previously received a First Draw PPP Loan and will use or have used the full amount only for authorized uses, and that can demonstrate at least a 25% reduction in gross receipts between comparable quarters in 2019 and 2020. The maximum amount of a Second Draw PPP loan is $2 million.
Major Changes at the State House
It is a new year and it brings with it a potential new Governor, a new Speaker of the House Joe Shekarchi and many new members of the Rhode Island House and Senate.
The Senate will meet Tuesday, January 12th at 4:00 pm. Members of the Senate will begin filing new bills. Committee assignments are also expected to be announced this week. The House is set meet January 19th, although the House is accepting bill filings from members now.
The first bill filed in the House for 2021 was H.5000. The bill requires the House and the Senate members to vote, in what is called the Grand Committee, to fill any vacancy in the Lieutenant Governor office. This comes after Governor Raimondo agreed to accept President-elect Biden’s nomination as Secretary of Commerce. The Rhode Island Constitution states, “ The governor shall, by and with the advice and consent of the senate, appoint all officers of the state whose appointment is not herein otherwise provided for and all members of any board, commission or other state or quasi-public entity which exercises executive power under the laws of this state; but the general assembly may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they deem proper, in the governor, or within their respective departments in the other general officers, the judiciary or in the heads of departments.” The Constitution does not specifically state how a Lt. Governor vacancy is to be filled, so the Governor’s appointment provision would seem to govern.
The timing of the confirmation process in Washington will be key to Rhode Island. Last month, the legislature passed a budget that included the deferral of the Governor’s FY2022 budget submission requirement to March instead of January. If Raimondo leaves prior to the March deadline, then the budget should be delivered by current Lt. Governor Dan McKee. The Chamber will also be watching to see which members of Governor Raimondo’s staff are offered positions in Washington, and what changes will come with a McKee governorship.
CHAMBER MEMBER ACTION REQUEST - Preparations for 2021 Session
As stated in the last edition of UTD, the 2021 legislative session will be very different. The House plans to meet at the Veterans’ Auditorium; and the Senate plans to meet at RI Community College. Hearings will likely be at the State House, but testimony will have to be submitted in writing, or orally through virtual media. Meetings with legislators will likely also take place virtually.
The Chamber may be calling upon you more than ever before. We are asking for your assistance as we prepare for this new session. Please go to https://vote.sos.ri.gov and click on “Find Your Elected Officials.” Enter your name, birthdate and zip code. Find your State Representative and State Senator for your home address (if you live in Rhode Island). Email your name and the legislators name to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Chamber will be compiling a database for future grassroots efforts. If you also know a legislator who lives in another district, please send that information to the Chamber as well and we will include it in the database.
Thank you for your help!
PAYCHECK PROTECTION PROGRAM (PPP) Guidance on Accessing Capital for Minority, Underserved, Veteran and Women-Owned Business Concerns
The Small Business Administration (SBA) is dedicated to helping sustain our nation’s small businesses
and to supporting their tens of millions of employees. During these unprecedented times brought on
by the COVID-19 global pandemic, SBA has worked tirelessly and closely with Congress, with
borrowers, and with lenders of all sizes – including regional and community banks, Farm Credit System
lenders, credit unions, fintechs, community development financial institutions (CDFIs), and minority
depository institutions (MDIs) – to maximize access to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP or
Program). SBA is continuing to encourage and support these efforts that have benefitted the smallest
businesses and underserved communities.
The first round of the PPP supported the employment of 51 million American workers and over 80
percent of small business payroll across all 50 states and territories. More than 87 percent of loans
have been for $150,000 or less, with an average loan size of $101,000 – demonstrating the accessibility
of the PPP to even the smallest businesses. PPP loans have been broadly distributed across diverse
areas of the economy, with 27 percent of the funds going to low- and moderate-income communities,
which is in proportion to their percentage of the population. More than 70 percent of PPP loans have
been made to businesses with fewer than 10 employees. Over $80 billion, or 15 percent of the total
PPP loan amount, has been disbursed to small businesses in rural communities. Small businesses in
Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZones) have received more than $130 billion in PPP
funding, accounting for more than 25 percent of all PPP loan dollars. In addition, more than 430 CDFIs
and MDIs across the country have made over 221,000 PPP loans for more than $16.4 billion.
Building on the success of the first round of PPP, SBA is continuing to address potential barriers to
access to capital for minority, underserved, veteran, and women-owned business concerns.
In the Economic Aid to Hard-Hit Small Businesses, Non-Profits, and Venues Act (Economic Aid Act), our
partners in Congress have set aside funds for new and smaller borrowers, for borrowers in low- and
moderate-income communities, and for community and smaller lenders. These set asides include:
• $15 billion across first and second draw PPP loans for lending by community financial
• $15 billion across first and second draw PPP loans for lending by Insured Depository
Institutions, Credit Unions, and Farm Credit System Institutions with consolidated assets of
less than $10 billion;
• $35 billion for new first draw PPP borrowers; and
• $15 billion and $25 billion for first draw and second draw PPP loans, respectively, for borrowers
with a maximum of 10 employees or for loans less than $250,000 to borrowers in low-or
moderate-income neighborhoods. SBA has determined that at least 25 percent of each of those
set-asides will go to each one of the groups: loans to borrowers with a maximum of 10
PAYCHECK PRemployees and loans less than $250,000 to borrowers in low-or moderate-income
To efficiently and effectively implement the Economic Aid Act and to ensure increased access to PPP
for minority, underserved, veteran, and women-owned business concerns, SBA is undertaking the
• Accept PPP loan applications only from community financial institutions for at least the first
two days when the PPP loan portal re-opens;
• Direct Lender Match borrower inquiries to small lenders who can aid traditionally underserved
• Match small businesses through Lender Match with Certified Development Companies (CDCs),
Farm Credit System lenders, microloan intermediaries, and traditional smaller asset size
• Continue setting aside dedicated hours to process and assist our smallest PPP lenders with
their PPP loans;
• Continue to strongly encourage CDFIs and minority-, women-, veteran-, and military-owned
lenders to apply to become PPP lenders. SBA will give full and prompt consideration to these
applications to become PPP lenders consistent with program guidelines, including in cases
where the lender does not meet all of the requirements listed on the updated SBA Form 3507;
• Continue to work with the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System on the PPP
Liquidity Facility to enable PPP lenders, including nonbank lenders, to pledge PPP loans to the
Federal Reserve as collateral for Federal Reserve borrowings to enhance lender liquidity and
enable PPP lenders to expand their lending capacity;
• Promote awareness of these policies and procedures via traditional media methods, SBA social
media accounts and guidance to lenders before the formal opening of SBA’s loan systems;
• Continue to work with our federal partners, including the Department of Agriculture, the
Federal Reserve, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, the Office of the Comptroller of
the Currency, the Farm Credit Administration, and the National Credit Union Administration, to
share this guidance with PPP lenders, borrowers, and the broader public;
• Continue to use SBA’s 68 district offices and network of SBA Resource Partners to further create
awareness among the public about these approaches. Minority, underserved, veteran, and
women-owned businesses that encounter difficulties in obtaining a PPP Loan should contact
their local SBA district office for assistance. A link on how to find an office near you can be
found via www.sba.gov/local-assistance.
SBA will continue to engage with all PPP lenders to maximize access to the PPP for all of America’s
eligible small businesses. To accomplish this, SBA continues to call upon its lending partners and asks
that they redouble their efforts to assist eligible borrowers in underserved and disadvantaged
communities, allowing us to further expand economic opportunity. In particular, all PPP lenders are
strongly encouraged to:
• Continue to engage in community outreach and communication through organizations, trade
associations, and individuals that represent and serve underserved communities and minority,
veteran, and women-owned businesses. SBA will continue to lead by example on best
practices for this type of engagement; and
• Continue to fully comply with all applicable Federal, State, local, and other statutory
requirements related to fair lending.
In addition, SBA has added a demographic reporting section on the PPP borrower application. PPP
lenders should encourage borrowers to report the optional information that has been added to better
inform lenders and SBA on the success of our efforts to reach underserved, minority-owned, veteran owned, and women-owned businesses.
While the PPP has been an incredible success, there are still many more opportunities to provide
assistance to businesses who have yet to access these forgivable loans, especially as PPP re-opens for first and second draw loans. These are challenging times for our nation’s small business owners and entrepreneurs, but through our continued outreach and focused approach, we will continue to ensureaccess and opportunity for all those who need assistance.