Chamber Connections BLOG
Chamber Connections BLOG
Last Week at the State House
The legislator was on break last week. The filing of bills was extended to March 1st, so expect to see numerous bills in UTD in the upcoming weeks.
This Week at the State House
The House has begun to hold hearings in a hybrid form – allowing the public to attend in person, submit written testimony or to sign up to testify virtually. The Senate remains in a virtual testimony only format, meaning the public can provide written testimony or sign up to testify by telephone.
Tuesday, March 1st
The House Corporations Committee will meet at the Rise (approximately 4:30 p.m.) H.7231, An Act Relating to Business Professions – Freedom to Travel and Work Act, allows Rhode Island Occupational Boards to recognize licenses from other states and award Rhode Island licenses to individuals who had a license from another state for one year or more and remains in good standing in that state. To be eligible, the license holder could not have complaints filed against them in the other state, nor could they have surrendered the license. The bill can be viewed at: H7231.pdf (state.ri.us) Written testimony may be submitted via HouseCorporations@rilegislature.gov Please include your name, bill number and position in the subject line. The deadline for written testimony is Tuesday at 1:00 p.m. *DEADLINE: Individuals may testify in person or over the phone. For phone testimony, the deadline to register is 4:00 pm Monday, February 28th . To register, complete the FORM or sign-up in person in the House Lounge.
The House Finance Committee will meet at the Rise in Room 35. Governor McKee’s ARPA Fund proposals for the Enhanced Real Jobs program, the Blue Economy Program and the Unemployment Trust Fund will be heard. The Enhanced Real Jobs initiative calls for $15 million to be spent by June 30, 2024 and another $15 million by June 30, 2025. These funds shall support the Real Jobs Rhode Island program in the development of job partnerships, connecting industry employers adversely impacted by the pandemic to individuals enrolled in workforce training programs. The Blue Economy Program proposes to use $40 million by June 30, 2024 and $20 million by June 30, 2025. The Blue Economy Program is focused on areas such as ports and shipping, defense, marine trades, ocean-related technology, ocean-based renewables, aquaculture and fisheries, and tourism and recreation. Finally, the UI line item calls for $30 million to be deposited into the Trust Fund to replenish the fund. The Chamber believes this is not enough. The fraudulent claims alone reportedly took $36 million in employer contributions from the fund. At the last report, the Fund was down about $200 million from the pre-pandemic levels. If your unemployment tax has increased, we strongly urge you to submit testimony at this hearing. Written testimony may be submitted to HouseFinance@rilegislature.gov by 1:00 p.m. Tuesday. Indicate your name, bill number and position in the Subject Line of the Email. Individuals may testify in person or over the phone. To testify by phone you must complete the following form by 4:00 p.m. Monday House Committee on Finance - 3 (office.com)
The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet at the Rise (approximately 4:30 p.m.) and will hear testimony on S.2124, An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations – Unfair Employment Practices. The bill prohibits an employer from requiring an employee to execute a nondisclosure agreement or non-disparagement agreement, as a condition of employment. The bill can be viewed at: S2124.pdf (state.ri.us) Written testimony can be submitted to the committee by emailing it to firstname.lastname@example.org Members of the public can request to provide verbal testimony to the committee through the following link: VERBAL TESTIMONY
*Requests to provide verbal testimony must be submitted by 4:00 PM on Monday,
February 28 , 2022.
Wednesday, March 2nd
The Senate Committee on Environment and Agriculture will be hosting a presentation by ISO-NE, the organization that is responsible for ensuring reliable electricity is available to Rhode Island businesses and homes. The meeting will begin at 4:00 p.m. If you are interested in watching the presentation, this meeting will be streamed live online through Capitol TV https://rilegislature.gov/CapTV/Pages/default.aspx
Thursday, March 3rd
The Senate Committee on Health and Human Services will meet at 4:00 p.m. to discuss additional health care mandates. S.2325 requires coverage for Covid-19 home test kits; S.2080 requires coverage for 10 categories of “essential health benefits”; and S.2203 requires coverage for treatment of pediatric autoimmune neuropsychiatric disorders associated with streptococcal infections/pediatric acute onset neuropsychiatric syndrome. The Chamber will request the creation of a Health Care Advisory Council to review all health care benefit mandates to provide cost analysis to the legislature as it deliberates these issues. Written testimony can be submitted to the committee by emailing it to: email@example.com Members of the public can request to provide verbal testimony to the committee through the following link: VERBAL TESTIMONY *Requests to provide verbal testimony must be submitted by 4:00 PM on Wednesday,
March 2, 2022.
This Week at the State House
This week was originally set as the deadline to file bills in the House. However, the deadline has been extended to March 1st. Both the House and Senate will be on break next week. Once the legislature returns on February 28th, expect hearing schedules to intensify through April.
On Tuesday, at the Rise (approximately 4:30 p.m.) the House Finance Committee will take testimony on the section of Article 8 that pertains to the Small Business Development Fund. The Governor’s budget retains the enacted level of $700,000 from general revenues to recapitalize the Small Business Assistance Program for businesses with less than 200 employees that are having difficulties obtaining financing from traditional lending organizations. The program has $2.1 million in loanable funds as of December 2021 according to fiscal reports. The maximum amount that any one business can obtain from the fund is $750,000. The program provides a set aside provision for between 10% and 25% of the funding for a microloan program to be administered by a third-party with expertise in microloans. The Governor also proposes extending the sunset one year to December 31, 2023. The Committee will also take testimony on Article 9 (excluding the broadband policy initiatives). Article 9 raises the Rebuild Rhode Island aggregate tax credit cap from $210 million to $225 million and extends the program’s sunset clause to December 31, 2023. The Article also extends the sunset for the following programs to December 31, 2023: Tax Increment Financing, Tax Stabilization Incentive, First Wave Closing Fund, I-195 Redevelopment Fund, Small Business Assistance Program, Main Street Streetscape Improvement Program, Innovation Initiative, High School, College, and Employer Partnerships, Air Service Development, Industry Cluster Grant Program, and the Qualified Jobs Tax Credit. The RI Wavemaker Fellowship program is altered to create a separate fund from healthcare professionals. Currently, this program is dedicated to science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM) students. According to the House Fiscal Staff analysis, the budget includes $1.6 million from general revenues for FY2023 for the existing program and $.8 million for the healthcare fund.
Written testimony can be emailed to House Finance@rilegislature.gov Please include your name, Article number, position at the top of the email. The deadline for submission is Tuesday, at 1:00 p.m. You may also testify in person in Room 35 of the State House.
The Senate Finance Committee will also take testimony on Article 9 Wednesday, at 5:00 p.m. All public testimony for the Senate hearing will be virtual. Written testimony can be submitted to the committee by emailing it to: firstname.lastname@example.org You may also request to testify verbally via telephone by going to the following link https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=LBHmn1akN0aJ3A8oTO_8ZrrkHo3ATJRAp4ByeeV8cWRUOTNJUUdXNTlMVlYzVDdaUUFFRzZZREhKWS4u
Requests to testify verbally must be submitted by 4:00 p.m. Tuesday.
What’s in the Governor’s Budget
Article 10 – Education. Article 10 ensures that local school aid will remain level-funded, and not be subject to attendance swings associated with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Article 12 – Medical Assistance. This Article requires personal care attendants, “high-risk providers and Medicaid providers to undergo national criminal records check prior to work. Rhode Island is one of five states that is not fingerprinting and conducting background checks for high- risk providers, as required under federal law. For Medicaid providers, this evaluation is also intended to uncover previous cases of fraud, waste or abuse of the Medicaid/CHIP Program. Disqualifying crimes include crimes from murder to sexual assault, assault on a person 60 years or older, burglary, embezzlement, abuse, neglect or exploitation of adults with severe impairments and exploitation of elders. It includes pleas of nolo contendere. Personal care aides must complete the background check prior to, or within one week of employment. The same disqualifying crimes apply to this group.
This Article also increases, by 3%, the Medicare and Medicaid rate reimbursement to nursing facilities. This change is reported to cost $3.8 million in general revenue.
The last change comes in the Rite Start and Rite Tract programs. The following explanation comes from the House Fiscal report. “The section authorizes the Executive Office to apply for federal approval to use Medicaid funds to cover benefits to resident children whose family income is at or below 250 percent of poverty, regardless of immigration status. If federal funds are not allowable, the program will be funded entirely from general revenues. The budget adds $1.3 million from general revenues assuming an October 1, 2022 start date. The underlying assumptions are that nearly 1,500 children will eventually enroll with about 400 in the first year and full enrollment would cost approximately $7 million annually. The budget also includes $0.7 million from general revenues to make the system changes necessary to implement the program. Under current law, the state offers a limited Medicaid benefit to post-partum women up to 250 percent of poverty for up to 24 months. The program is for individuals who lose their Medicaid coverage after 60 days post-partum if they are not eligible for Medicaid under another eligibility category. For women who do not have qualified immigrant status for Medicaid, but whose birth was paid for by Medicaid because the child is covered, can receive state-only extended family planning benefits for 12 months. This section would expand coverage to both groups. Coverage for the first group, which totals $3.2 million, including $1.4 million from general revenues, is a new state Medicaid option created by the American Rescue Plan Act for women who currently lose Medicaid coverage after 60 days post-partum and will extend the full Medicaid benefit to approximately 1,000 women. The second is for women who do not qualify for Medicaid because of immigration status, but whose birth was paid for by Medicaid because the child is covered. The budget adds $2.0 million, entirely from general revenues, to provide full coverage to about 500 women. The budget also adds $1.4 million, including $0.8 million from general revenues, to make the necessary system changes.”
Article 13 – Human Services. Article 13 expands eligibility for cash assistance. When calculating benefit today, the combined value of available resources (minus debts) cannot exceed $1000. This Article proposes to increase the threshold to $5000. In determining benefit amounts today, the Department excludes the first $100 per month of income and 50% of income over $170 per month. Article 13 proposes to exclude the first $300 of income per month and 50% of additional income over $300.The Governor estimated this cost to be $250,000 to be paid with federal dollars. This Article also expands child care assistance to working families with income less than 200% of the poverty level (currently 180%); and provide child care assistance to families with less than 200% of poverty level that are attending a RI public institution of higher learning. The Governor included $4.7 million in ARPA funds for these childcare expansion programs.
The following new bills have been filed:
Senate Bill No. 2168 Zurier, Valverde, Euer, Sosnowski, AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY -- AIR POLLUTION (Prohibits the sale of gasoline-powered leaf blowers in this state after July 1, 2023 and prohibit their use in this state after July 1, 2024. Violations would be punished by a civil fine not to exceed five hundred dollars ($500).)
Senate Bill No. 2184 Calkin, Mendes, Mack, Acosta, Anderson, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION (Establishes a surtax on the business corporation tax for publicly traded corporations subject to SEC disclosure and reporting requirements, if corporation's ratio of compensation for its CEO to median worker is equal to or greater than 100 to 1.)
Senate Bill No. 2189 Calkin, Mendes, Mack, Acosta, Anderson, AN ACT RELATING TO HUMAN SERVICES -- HEALTH CARE FOR FAMILIES (Creates the "Medicaid Employer Assessment.")
Senate Bill No. 2237 Calkin, Mendes, Mack, Acosta, Anderson, Zurier, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- MINIMUM WAGES (Requires employers with 50 or more employees to pay "hazard pay" to employees involved in providing essential services during a declared public health emergency.)
Senate Bill No. 2238 Calkin, Mendes, Mack, Anderson, Zurier, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- MINIMUM WAGES--OVERTIME WAGES (Exempts certain executive, administrative, and professional employees from overtime pay if their weekly wages exceed one thousand thirty-six dollars ($1,036), an increase from the current two hundred dollars ($200).)
Senate Bill No. 2239 Calkin, Mendes, Mack, Acosta, Anderson, Zurier, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- PAYMENT OF WAGES (Defines and recognize the existence and potential liability of lead entities concerning the payment of wages.)
Senate Bill No. 2240 Raptakis, Quezada, Ciccone, Burke, Lombardo, DiMario, Lombardi, Anderson, Murray, Euer, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- MINIMUM WAGES (Increases the minimum hourly wage commencing January 1, 2027, by an amount equal to the total percentage increase in the Consumer Price Index for all Urban Consumers (CPI-U) for the Northeast Region for the calendar year 2025.)
Senate Bill No. 2241 Calkin, Mendes, Mack, Acosta, Bell, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- MINIMUM WAGES (Effective January 1, 2023, increases the minimum hourly wage to fourteen dollars and fifty cents ($14.50) to sixteen dollars and seventy-five cents ($16.75) the next year, the next year to nineteen dollars ($19.00).)
Senate Bill No. 2243 Cano, DiMario, Quezada, Euer, Lawson, Anderson, Seveney, Burke, Kallman, DiPalma, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- RHODE ISLAND PARENTAL AND FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (Increases the amount of parental or family leave available to an employee from thirteen (13) weeks to twenty-four (24) weeks in any two (2) calendar years.)
Senate Bill No. 2246 Kallman, Coyne, Sosnowski, Goodwin, Acosta, Zurier, Mack, Cano, DiPalma, Seveney, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS - TIP PROTECTION (Prohibits employers from receiving any portion of the tips given by customers to their tipped employees, with limited exceptions for credit card service charges.)
Senate Bill No. 2263 Picard, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION -- STATE TAX OFFICIALS (Changes the rate of interest for underpayments of tax to prime rate plus six percent (6%). Also limits the assessment of interest to four (4) calendar years prior to the date on which notice of the delinquent payment is sent.)
Senate Bill No. 2264 Murray, McCaffrey, Ciccone, Pearson, Goodwin, Cano, Seveney, Acosta, Sosnowski, Miller, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION -- PERSONAL INCOME TAX (Adds one new income tax bracket for purposes of state income taxation.)
House Bill No. 7374
BY Potter, McGaw, Kislak, Felix, Morales
ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC PROPERTY AND WORKS -- ALL-ELECTRIC BUILDING ACT (Provides that no city or town would issue a permit for the construction of new buildings that are not an all-electric building, if the initial application for a permit was submitted after December 31, 2023, unless certain circumstances apply.)
House Bill No. 7385
BY McEntee, Cortvriend, Solomon, Caldwell, Craven
ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- EMPLOYMENT SECURITY FUND -- GENERAL PROVISIONS (Appropriates federal American Rescue Plan Act funds to the state employment security fund in an amount sufficient to restore the fund to its level immediately prior to the governor's March 9, 2020, emergency declaration.)
House Bill No. 7388
BY Amore, Henries, Craven, Caldwell, Batista, Speakman, Donovan
ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY - CATASTROPHIC ILLNESS IN CHILDREN RELIEF FUND (Establishes Children's Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund to provide finance assistance to families for medical expenses not covered by state or federal programs or insurance contract.) (Paid for through an assessment on employers)
House Bill No. 7400 Shanley, Carson, Edwards, Ruggiero, Cortvriend, Barros, AN ACT RELATING TO COMMERCIAL LAW -- GENERAL REGULATORY PROVISIONS -- RHODE ISLAND DATA TRANSPARENCY AND PRIVACY PROTECTION ACT (Creates the "Rhode Island data Transparency and Privacy Protection Act" to identify information collected by online service providers and commercial websites.)
House Bill No. 7440 Alzate, Amore, Williams, Slater, Speakman, Kazarian, Barros, Potter, Diaz, Kislak, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION -- PERSONAL INCOME TAX (Adds one new income tax bracket for purposes of state income taxation.)
House Bill No. 7444 Cassar, Giraldo, Kislak, Ajello, Shallcross Smith, Alzate, Solomon, Caldwell, Lombardi, Tanzi, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- TEMPORARY DISABILITY INSURANCE -- GENERAL PROVISIONS (Increases the taxable wage upon which employees make contributions to the TDI and TCI funds and increases the maximum weeks for temporary caregivers from 4 to 12 weeks.)
House Bill No. 7463 Perez, Vella-Wilkinson, Williams, Batista, Lima, Felix, Diaz, Bennett, Solomon, Costantino, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- RHODE ISLAND PARENTAL AND FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE ACT (Grants unpaid pregnancy leave to all part-time workers, would clarify their access to unpaid sick leave during their pregnancy, and would provide additional protections for pregnant workers who work in the medical field.)
This Week at the State House
On Tuesday, February 8th, the Senate Finance Committee is hearing testimony on Article 7 of the Governor’s FY2023 budget. As reported in last week’s UTD, this Article expands the purpose of the electricity energy renewable fee fund to include clean transportation, clean heating and energy storage initiatives. The article allocates $6 million of the fund to the Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council (EC4) for climate-related initiatives. Article 7 also establishes an Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Program within the Office of Energy Resources and the Department of Transportation. It alludes to the use of $22.9 million from the federal Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act. To date, the state is still waiting for the federal government to release a guidance document to confirm how federal dollars can be used by states and local governments. This guidance may not be forthcoming until late March to early May.
All public testimony for this hearing will be virtual. Written testimony can be submitted by emailing it to email@example.com . You can also provide verbal testimony. To do so go to https://forms.office.com/Pages/ResponsePage.aspx?id=LBHmn1akN0aJ3A8oTO_8ZrrkHo3ATJRAp4ByeeV8cWRUNzY2SE1ZOVFaOU1ZOEY0SkFWMEREWkpZUy4u
and fill out the form by Monday 4:00 p.m.
On Wednesday, February 9th, the House Corporations Committee will take testimony on two bills that may be of interest to Chamber members.
H.7016, An Act Relating to Insurance – Covid-19 Pandemic Insurance Recovery, allows businesses (with less than 100 full-time employees) that had an insurance policy in place for business interruption as of March 9, 2020, to recover from their insurance companies for a Covid-19 business impact. The bill can be viewed at http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText22/HouseText22/H7016.pdf
H. Resolution 7156, creates a 5 member commission to study to the manner in which health insurance, disability insurance, unemployment insurance, retirement plans and other traditional employer provided benefits are accorded to Uber and LYFT drivers, self-employed individuals, and other individuals engaged in providing services to the public. The resolution can be viewed at http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText22/HouseText22/H7156.pdf
Written testimony can be submitted to HouseCorporations@rilegislature.gov until 1:30 p.m on Wednesday. Please indicate your name, bill number, and position (for/against/neutral) at the top of the message. To testify virtually, complete the form found at https://forms.office.com/pages/responsepage.aspx?id=LBHmn1akN0aJ3A8oTO_8ZnMUMrI1W6lGqP5le-GGa29UNVgwQTZGUjQ4Q043MU1BTzRCVUVVNlAwUS4u
by 4:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 8th. To testify in person, go to House Lounge at the State House just prior to the 4:30 p.m. start time.
What’s in the Governor’s Budget
Article 2 – State Funds. This Article establishes the “Hospital Conversion Monitoring Account” to fund monitoring activities associated with hospital conversions. It also increases the fee on telecommunication bills to allow for an addition $20,000 to go to the Rhode Island Commission on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing for emergency and public communication access programs. The Article creates two restricted receipt accounts within the Department of Health and Human Services to handle the ARP funds for home and community-based services; and creates an account for the recent Opioid Settlement dollars that will be coming to the state.
Article 3 – Government Reform. This Article begins by eliminating the current $1 fee for duplicate caterer licenses. It gives municipalities the ability to tax, regulate or outright prohibit establishments with three or more billiard tables within the municipality. Under current law, municipalities have the same jurisdiction over bowling alleys. Article 3 repeals the requirement for municipalities to inspect and stamp hide and leather goods. The Article provides an administrative penalty to be assessed against any constable that fails to comply with state law. That penalty is $1000 per violation. And finally, the Article allows the paint stewardship program organization to maintain a reserve fund up to 50% of the total cost to run the program during the previous year, subject to the approval of the Department of Environmental Management.
Article 4 – Debt Management. This very short Article provides $13 million to the University of RI for a facilities service upgrade project and $15.45 million to the University for utility infrastructure upgrades (steam, water sanitary and electric support).
Article 5 – Capital Development. Article 5 outlines bond referendum questions to go before the voters on November 7, 2022. The three following items are included in the Governor’s proposal:
The following new bills have been filed:
House Bill No. 7231 Place, Roberts, AN ACT RELATING TO BUSINESSES AND PROFESSIONS -- FREEDOM TO TRAVEL AND WORK ACT (Establishes an occupational regulatory framework by authorizing the issuance of occupational licenses and government certifications by recognition, for qualified worker applicants from other states.) http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText22/HouseText22/H7231.pdf
House Bill No. 7250 Kazarian, Alzate, Kislak, Amore, AN ACT RELATING TO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES -- MANUFACTURING AND WHOLESALE LICENSES (Allows manufacturer-wineries to sell up to three (3) drinks of wine for on-site consumption or three (3) bottles of wine for off-site consumption or three (3) bottles of wine for off-site consumption.)
House Bill No. 7277 Ruggiero, Bennett, Handy, Potter, Hull, Diaz, Kazarian, Speakman, Carson, Donovan, AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC UTILITIES AND CARRIERS-RENEWABLE ENERGY (Increases the percentage of retail electricity sales from renewable energy sources.)
House Bill No. 7278 Cortvriend, Ruggiero, Bennett, Kislak, Edwards, Carson, Speakman, Knight, Fogarty, Potter, AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC PROPERTY AND WORKS -- THE GREEN BUILDINGS ACT (Expands definition of public buildings under Green Building Act to include buildings in any subdivision of state, and include private major facility projects; mandates public reports for all such projects.)
House Bill No. 7279 Bennett, Cortvriend, Carson, Fogarty, McEntee, Speakman, Phillips, Ruggiero, Casimiro, Williams, AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY -- EXTENDED PRODUCER RESPONSIBILITY FOR PACKAGING (Creates the producer responsibility program requiring producers to make necessary changes to product design(s) to reduce packaging consumption and waste and assess fees based on the packaging.)
House Bill No. 7298 Noret, Casimiro, Solomon, Kazarian, AN ACT RELATING TO INSURANCE -- ACCIDENT AND SICKNESS INSURANCE POLICIES (Requires that all COVID-19 testing, inclusive of rapid antigen testing and/or PCR testing are covered by insurance regardless of whether such testing is ordered by a doctor.)
House Bill No. 7337 McEntee, Cortvriend, Caldwell, Slater, Carson, Phillips, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION - BUSINESS CORPORATION TAX (Suspends interest and penalty payments due from a taxpayer with less than one hundred (100) employees as a result of an audit conducted during a COVID emergency declaration and continuing until one year after the emergency declaration is lifted.) http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText22/HouseText22/H7337.pdf
House Bill No. 7348 Felix, Cassar, Morales, Kazarian, Kislak, Potter, Alzate, McNamara, Casimiro, Williams, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- MINIMUM WAGES (Commencing 1/1/23, gradually increases the minimum wage for employees receiving gratuities from the current ($3.89) to ($14.95) by 1/1/2027 and on 1/1/2028 the minimum wage shall be no less than the minimum wage established by the minimum wage law.)
House Bill No. 7362 Quattrocchi, Roberts, Nardone, Filippi, Price, AN ACT RELATING TO HOLIDAYS AND DAYS OF SPECIAL OBSERVANCE WORK ON HOLIDAYS AND SUNDAYS - GENERAL ELECTION DAY (Adds general election days to the list of holidays, in order to allow registered voters to cast their votes.)
Senate Bill No. 2153 Gallo, AN ACT RELATING TO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES -- MANUFACTURING AND WHOLESALE LICENSES -- RETAIL LICENSES (Repeals 3/1/22 sunset provision allowing Class B/brew pub licensees to sell wine/beer/mixed drinks with food takeout orders only.)
Last Week at the State House
Last week UTD featured a few bills that were scheduled for hearing in committees. All of the bills mentioned were held for further study. They are still alive and can be voted on at a later date, or never brought up again. (H.6628, An Act Relating to Corporations, Association and Partnerships, H.7112, An Act Relating to Motor and Other Vehicles, H. 7063, An Act Relating to Food and Drugs – Disposable Food Service Containers, and H.7065, An Act Relating to Health and Safety – Plastic Waste Reduction Act)
This Week at the State House
On Thursday, February 3, the House Committee on Health and Human Services will hear a number of bills that add mandated coverages to health insurance.
H.7020, An Act Relating to Health and Safety – The Breast Cancer Act, adds requires health insurance plans to cover digital breast tomosynthesis screenings http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText22/HouseText22/H7020.pdf
H.7077, An Act Relating to Insurance, would require that a participant or beneficiary of a health insurance plan incur no greater out-of-pocket costs for emergency services than they would have incurred with an in-network provider other than in-network cost sharing. http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText22/HouseText22/H7077.pdf
H.7078, An Act Relating to Insurance, requires health insurance plans to cover medically necessary residential inpatient treatment of mental health and substance use disorders. http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText22/HouseText22/H7078.pdf
H.7135, An Act Relating to Insurance, limits copays, coinsurance or office deductible services for physical therapists to the amount authorized for the services of a primary care physician or osteopath. http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText22/HouseText22/H7135.pdf
Written testimony can be submitted to HouseHealthandHumanServices@rilegislature.gov Please indicate your name, bill number, and position at the top of the message. PDF format is preferred. Written testimony must be submitted by 1:00pm Thursday, February 3rd. If you wish to testify verbally in person, go to Room 101 at approximately 4:30 pm. If you wish to testify via telephone go to the following link and sign up before 4:00 p.m. Wednesday February 2nd https://forms.office.com/pages/responsepage.aspx?id=LBHmn1akN0aJ3A8oTO_8ZnMUMrI1W6lGqP5le-GGa29UQURYWjVFSEcwNElGWURGNk45M1g3SkdMMy4u
What’s in the Governor’s Budget
Article 7 – Energy and the Environment. Since 2008, state law has required distribution companies to collect a demand-side surcharge on electricity and natural gas to fund renewable energy programs. The law calls for these fees to continue until 2028. The rate of surcharge must be approved by the Public Utilities Commission and is based on financial need in conjunction with the annual plan for energy efficiency programs. Article 7 expands the purpose of the fund to include clean transportation, clean heating and energy storage initiatives. The article also allocates $6 million of the fund to the Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council (EC4) for climate-related initiatives. The Chamber is meeting with various agencies to determine if the expansion of use of the funds will result in an increase in the surcharge. Since the fund was established, the distribution companies have received incentives to administer the program. Under Article 7, that incentive is eliminated as of January 1, 2023.
The Article requires the RI Office of Energy Resources (OER) to issue a request for proposals for a third-party administrator of the program. If OER does not believe the proposals are in the best interest of the state, then the distribution companies would continue to administer the program.
Article 7 also establishes an Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure Program within the Office of Energy Resources and the Department of Transportation. It alludes to the use of $22.9 million from the federal Infrastructure and Investment Jobs Act. To date, the state is still waiting for the federal government to release a guidance document to confirm how federal dollars can be used by states and local governments. This guidance may not be forthcoming until late March to early May.
Lastly, this Article allows the Coastal Resources Management Council to utilize part-time hearing officers, and allows the hearing officers to be practicing attorneys or law firms, provided they not participate in any case in which they are also an interested party.
Article 9 – Economic Development. Article 9 begins by instructing the Executive Office of Commerce to develop a broadband strategic plan (speed, latency, affordability, access, sustainability, and digital equity), setting goals and strategies for internet access throughout the state. The plan must be completed by December 31, 2022, and updated every five years thereafter. Commerce is directed to coordinate with all agencies in this endeavor. Commerce would have the authority to create grants as well as new programs, and regulations as need. It can also delegate the regulatory authority to another agency if it is deemed appropriate. The Article calls for the hiring of a statewide broadband coordinator and support staff as needed. It also creates a 13-member broadband advisory committee.
Article 9 raises the Rebuild Rhode Island aggregate tax credit cap from $210 million to $225 million and extends the program’s sunset clause to December 31, 2023. The Article also extends the sunset for the following programs to December 31, 2023: Tax Increment Financing, Tax Stabilization Incentive, First Wave Closing Fund, I-195 Redevelopment Fund, Small Business Assistance Program, Main Street Streetscape Improvement Program, Innovation Initiative, High School, College, and Employer Partnerships, Air Service Development, Industry Cluster Grant Program, and the Qualified Jobs Tax Credit.
The RI Wavemaker Fellowship program is altered to create a separate fund from healthcare professionals. Currently, this program is dedicated to science, technology, engineering and medicine (STEM) students. According to the House Fiscal Staff analysis, the budget includes $1.6 million from general revenues for FY2023 for the existing program and $.8 million for the healthcare fund.
The following new bills have been filed:
House Resolution No. 7156 Place, Filippi, Roberts, Quattrocchi, Nardone, HOUSE RESOLUTION CREATING A SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE COMMISSION TO STUDY THE MANNER IN WHICH HEALTH INSURANCE, DISABILITY INSURANCE, UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE, RETIREMENT PLANS AND OTHER TRADITIONAL EMPLOYER PROVIDED BENEFITS ARE ACCORDED TO UBER AND LYFT DRIVERS, SELF EMPLOYED INDIVIDUALS, AND OTHER INDIVIDUALS ENGAGED IN PROVIDING SERVICES TO THE PUBLIC (Creates a 5 member commission to study how health, disability, and unemployment plans, and other benefits are accorded to individuals providing services to the public, and would report back by January 5, 2023, and expire on March 5, 2023.) http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText22/HouseText22/H7156.pdf
House Bill No. 7171 Baginski, Shekarchi, Shallcross Smith, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION -- BUSINESS CORPORATION TAX (Provides technical amendments to the existing Pass-through Entity Election Tax statute to allow tax practitioners and the Rhode Island Division of Taxation to comply with the provisions in practice.)
House Bill No. 7186 Diaz, Corvese, Amore, Biah, AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY -- PUBLIC HEALTH AND WORKPLACE SAFETY ACT (Provides that any law or regulation which protects a person from exposure to secondhand smoke would also provide protection from exposure to secondhand tobacco and marijuana smoke, regardless of how the smoke was generated.)
House Bill No. 7199 Place, Chippendale, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- RIGHT TO EARN A LIVING ACT (Establishes procedures to ensure that agency regulations do not unjustly restrict individuals from entering into businesses, professions or public services, requiring articulable, legitimate public health, safety and welfare objectives.)
House Bill No. 7200 Diaz, Slater, Amore, Morales, Biah, Alzate, Cortvriend, Kazarian, Batista, AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC PROPERTY AND WORKS -- BUILDING SERVICE WORK (Requires that janitors and security guards employed, pursuant to state contracts worth more than one thousand dollars ($1,000) of janitorial or security services, be paid a standard compensation rate.)
House Bill No. 7202 Place, Quattrocchi, AN ACT RELATING TO TOWNS AND CITIES -- ZONING ORDINANCES (Allows the operation of a home-based business, which meets criteria for home office IRS income tax deduction, without securing approval from the municipality with no storage of chemicals/park heavy equipment/not more than 10% of premises used for parking.)
House Bill No. 7209 Baginski, McEntee, AN ACT RELATING TO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES -- MANUFACTURING AND WHOLESALE LICENSES -- RETAIL LICENSES (Repeals 3/1/22 sunset provision allowing Class B/brew pub licensees to sell wine/beer/mixed drinks with food takeout orders only.)
House Resolution No. 7210 Carson, McEntee, Cortvriend, Caldwell, HOUSE RESOLUTION CREATING A SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE COMMISSION TO STUDY AND REVIEW THE IMPACT OF EXISTING RULES AND REGULATIONS ON THE CREATION OF NEW BUSINESSES, AND PROVIDE RECOMMENDATIONS TO REVISE LAWS IN ORDER TO ELIMINATE BARRIERS (Creates a 17 member commission to study the impact of rules and regulations on new businesses, and make recommendations that would eliminate barriers, and who would report back by January 4, 2023, and expire on March 4, 2023.)
Senate Bill No. 2053 Bell, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION - AGREEMENT TO PHASE OUT CORPORATE INCENTIVES COMPACT ACT (Establishes a compact agreement among at least two (2) states to prohibit the use of subsidies to selectively retain industry or company entice relocation from one state to another state or to open a new facility.)
Senate Bill No. 2060 Raptakis, Murray, Anderson, Lombardi, Felag, McCaffrey, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION -- LEVY AND ASSESSMENT OF LOCAL TAXES -- INTEREST CHARGES ON OVERDUE PROPERTY TAX (Establishes a statewide limit of twelve percent (12%) per year on interest charged by cities and towns on delinquent taxes.)
Senate Bill No. 2075 Lawson, DiMario, Valverde, Miller, Coyne, Burke, Murray, Cano, Quezada, AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY - CATASTROPHIC ILLNESS IN CHILDREN RELIEF FUND (Establishes Children's Catastrophic Illness in Children Relief Fund to provide finance assistance to families for medical expenses not covered by state or federal programs or insurance contract.)
Senate Bill No. 2076 DiPalma, Miller, Ruggerio, McCaffrey, Goodwin, Algiere, de la Cruz, DiMario, Lawson, AN ACT RELATING TO FOOD AND DRUGS -- PRESCRIPTION DRUG COST PROTECTION (Prohibits the state, ERISA or any health plans to purchase referenced drugs for a cost higher than the referenced rate.)
Senate Bill No. 2080 Miller, Ruggerio, Goodwin, McCaffrey, Archambault, Murray, Valverde, DiPalma, Lawson, Gallo, 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.)
Senate Bill No. 2093 Lombardi, Archambault, McCaffrey, Euer, AN ACT RELATING TO COURTS AND CIVIL PROCEDURE -- PROCEDURE IN PARTICULAR ACTIONS -- RHODE ISLAND COMMERCIAL RECEIVERSHIP ACT (Creates temporary non-liquidating receivership program for businesses with substantial revenue decline after declared emergency/suspended/ceased substantial part of operation resulting by emergency police/regulatory powers.)
Senate Bill No. 2104 Lawson, Murray, DiMario, Valverde, Burke, Quezada, Euer, Kallman, AN ACT RELATING TO COMMERCIAL LAW--GENERAL REGULATORY PROVISIONS -- UNFAIR SALES PRACTICES (Requires all persons or entities collecting social security and other personal identification numbers to create and publicly display a privacy protection policy. Violations of this requirement would incur a civil penalty of five-hundred dollars ($500).)
Senate Bill No. 2127 Lawson, Murray, DiMario, Burke, Quezada, Euer, Kallman, Ciccone, Lombardi, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- IMPLANTATION DEVICES AS CONDITIONS OF EMPLOYMENT (Prohibits an employer from subjecting its employees or prospective employees to the implantation of an implantation device and creates criminal penalties as well as civil damages, that may be assessed against violating employers.)
Senate Bill No. 2130 Lawson, Euer, Cano, Burke, Murray, DiMario, Kallman, Ciccone, Lombardi, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- THE "COMMUTER TRANSPORTATION BENEFITS ACT" (Establishes the commuter transportation benefit act. Employers with five hundred (500) or more employees provide a pre-tax transportation fringe benefit program or provide transportation to the employees.)
Senate Bill No. 2147 Bell, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION -- PERSONAL INCOME TAX (Increases the tax rates for individuals, bankruptcy estates, trusts and estates.)
Senate Bill No. 2149 Bell, AN ACT RELATING TO INSURANCE -- COVID-19 PANDEMIC INSURANCE RECOVERY ACT (Allows businesses that had an insurance policy in place for business interruption as of March 9, 2019 to recover from their insurance companies for a COVID-19 business impact.)