Chamber Connections BLOG
Chamber Connections BLOG
House Finance Committee Hearing – Fees
The House Finance Committee will be meeting Tuesday, February 13th at the Rise (around 4:30pm) to hearing testimony concerning the increase in fees for selling securities in Rhode Island and increased license fees for insurance adjusters. The hearing will take place in Room 35 at the State House. The Senate Finance committee will be hearing the same fee increases on Thursday, February 15th at the Rise (around 4:30pm) in Room 211 at the State House
What’s in the Governor’s FY2019 Budget
Article 8 – Relating to Motor Vehicles
The Governor’s budget increases the fee for driver’s license name changes or address changes from $5.00 to $25.00; and further delays the requirement to obtain new license plates to January 1, 2020.
Article 9 – Relating to School Construction and Education
This Article addresses the renovation and construction of school buildings. The school building authority receives expanded powers to promulgate construction regulations and to develop a certification process for “prime contractors.” Only certified contractors could work on projects valued at over $10 million – which would cover most projects. The Authority is required to consider the contractor’s history of performance on complex projects, prior compliance with environmental and safety regulations, “evidence that completed prior projects prioritized the facility’s future maintainability” and use of minority-owned business subcontractors. The Article also references a certification process for general contractors, subcontractors and construction managers.
Article 9 requires all projects valued at $1.5 million or more to assign and pay for an “owner’s program manager” and a “commissioning agent” on the job. An “owner’s program manager” is an entity that provides project management services on behalf of a state agency. The owner's program manager acts as the owner's agent in all aspects of the construction project, including architectural programming, planning, design, construction, and the selection and procurement of an appropriate construction delivery method. The owner's program manager must have at least 7 years of experience in the construction and supervision of construction of buildings of similar size and complexity, and cannot have been employed during the preceding year by the design firm, the construction firm or the subcontractors associated with the project. A “commissioning agent” is a person or entity hired to ensure the proper installation and operation of technical building systems.
The Chamber is trying to determine how much additional cost would be associated with projects due to the required hirings and how much might be saved if efficiencies are realized.
Lastly, this Article expands eligibility for admission to the Rhode Island School for the Deaf. Students would not have to be deaf or hard of hearing, and funding would follow the students.
Article 11 – Relating to Workforce Development
The first section of Article 11 establishes a restricted receipt account within the Department of Labor and Training (DLT) for misclassification task force and workplace fraud unit. Civil penalties today (first offense $1500 - $3000 per misclassified employee; subsequent offenses $5000 per misclassified employee) go to the general revenue fund. Article 11 would place a penalty monies in the restricted account to be used for enforcement. Any funds remaining at the end of the fiscal year would be transferred to the general revenue account.
The second section of the Article is a change put forward by DLT. Under current law when an employer pays into the unemployment insurance (UI) fund, .21% of the amount paid goes to the Job Development Fund (JDF). The JDF assists employers, workers and job seekers to access job training services from the Real Jobs RI program. The average employer pays $701.12 per employee with $47.04 of the cost going to JDF. In 2017, the UI Trust Fund had a balance of $359,659,908; and $16,718,100 went to the JDF. Article 11 proposes to increase the percentage diverted to the JDF based on the amount of interest realized from the Trust Fund investment. DLT created a formula they believe will capture the interest using a 2-year anticipated 10% wage growth based on historical data. So what does this all mean? If passed, using the same example, the average employer pays $701.12 per employee, but the formula would call for an additional .002% to go to the JDF for a total payment of $51.52 to JDF. The overall result – an increase of $1,592,200 would go to the Job Development Fund. Some concerns have been raised from the business community over the potential for the diversion of interest to delay or eliminate the possibility of building of the Trust Fund to the point that employers could pay tax based on a lower schedule, thus reducing UI costs. DLT is reviewing those concerns.
Article 11 codifies the Real Jobs Rhode Island program into law under the Governor’s Workforce Board. The program administers competitive grants, works with employers to determine workforce skill needs and to address those needs, and reviews performance goals for each partnership established.
Lastly, Article 11 eliminates the Job Training Tax Credit Program effective January 1, 2018.
The following bills were filed last week:
House Bill No. 7427
BY Donovan, Ruggiero, Ranglin-Vassell, Shekarchi, Blazejewski
ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS - FAIR EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES (Expands the protections and remedies for employees against employers who pay wage differentials based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability; age or country of ancestral origin.)
House Bill No. 7428
BY Donovan, Carson, Ranglin-Vassell, Tanzi, Ajello
ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS - 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).)
House Bill No. 7500
BY Shanley, Coughlin, Solomon, Blazejewski, Barros
ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO PROPERTY -- RESIDENTIAL LANDLORD AND TENANT ACT (Requires a landlord to maintain a general liability insurance policy of one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) and to introduce the policy in any trespass and ejection action.)
House Resolution No. 7529
BY Canario, Corvese, Giarrusso, Marshall, Johnston
ENTITLED, JOINT RESOLUTION EXTENDING THE REPORTING AND EXPIRATION DATES OF THE SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE COMMISSION TO STUDY THE EFFECTS OF LEGALIZING MARIJUANA (Extends the reporting date of the special legislative commission to study the effects of legalizing marijuana from March 1, 2018 to February 1, 2019, and said commission expires on May 1, 2019.)
House Bill No. 7535
BY Craven, McEntee, Knight
ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO COURTS AND CIVIL PROCEDURE -- PROCEDURE GENERALLY (Provides that an open and obvious danger or defect is not a complete bar to recovery of damages in personal injury or property damage actions.)
House Bill No. 7544
BY Blazejewski, Maldonado, Winfield, Casimiro, McEntee
ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS - TEMPORARY DISABILITY INSURANCE (Amends the computation formula relative to temporary disability insurance and adds siblings and caregivers to those workers eligible to receive temporary caregiver insurance.)
Senate Bill No. 2252
BY Raptakis, Goodwin, Ciccone, Lombardo
ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES - RETAIL LICENSES - TRAINING (Requires the department of business regulation to administer testing to certify alcohol server training. It would also prohibit online testing.)
Senate Bill No. 2265
BY Quezada, Calkin, Crowley, Metts
ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- WRONGFUL DISCHARGE FROM EMPLOYMENT (Ends Rhode Island's "employment-at-will" legal doctrine, provides job protection for employees that satisfactorily perform their duties provides specific remedies for wrongful discharge.)
Senate Bill No. 2277
BY Pearson, Euer, Goldin, Satchell, Seveney
ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO COMMERCIAL LAW--GENERAL REGULATORY PROVISIONS -- RHODE ISLAND RIGHT-TO-KNOW DATA TRANSPARENCY AND PRIVACY PROTECTION ACT (Protects individuals from internet disclosure of personally identifiable information by commercial websites/online service operators and creates right of action for violations.)
Senate Bill No. 2286
BY Calkin, Quezada, Metts, Euer
ENTITLED, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- PAYMENT OF WAGES (Defines and recognizes the existence and potential liability of lead entities concerning the payment of wages.)