Chamber Connections BLOG
Chamber Connections BLOG
Governor Releases FY2021 Budget
Last Thursday, Governor Raimondo released her plan for State revenue and spending. The 621 page, $10 billion plan deals with everything from sales tax expansions to bonds to health care. There are 22 separate Articles in the budget. Over the next few weeks, Under the Dome will look at the various articles of the document as well as the potential effects on segments of the business community.
Article 8 – Taxes
Since taxes are on everyone’s mind, we start with Article 8, Relating to Taxes. The Article does the following:
Article 8 also proposes to change the way in which the hotel tax is distributed starting July 1, 2020. The distribution percentage of the tax collected changes, but keep in mind the Governor increases the tax by 1%. Cities and Towns get 20.8% of the tax collected – down from the current 25%. The Providence Convention and Visitors Bureau percentage lowers differently in different regions. Providence and Warwick Tourism districts see their percentage lower from 30% to 25%. The Aquidneck Island Tourism District percentage lowers from 45% to 37.5%. Regional Tourism Districts such as the Blackstone Valley see a decrease from 45% to 37.5%. The amount of hotel tax going to the Commerce Corporation lowers in all regions about 3% to 3.5%. And, for the first time, 16.7% of the hotel tax generated would go to the General Fund for State use.
Article 6 – Fees
This broad Article addresses many different programs:
Article 7 – Environment
Article 7 addresses most of the fees associated with hunting and fishing in the state. In the interest of space, each fee increase will not be listed, but can be found starting on page 125 of the H.7171 http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText20/HouseText20/H7171.pdf . The following license fees increase:
Article 7 also establishes new requirements for “landing” marine species. The language states, “All residents and nonresidents…who have charge of a vessel carrying seafood products legally harvested outside Rhode Island water shall obtain a permit to land, sell or offer for sale seafood products in Rhode Island.” The fee for a resident to “land” is $300; $600 for a nonresident. The Article goes on to say “No person, partnership, firm, association, or corporation shall barter or trade in marine species taken by persons licensed …unless a license so to do has been obtained from the director of environmental management.” This language seems to suggest that any individual or company that buys marine species (lobsters, crabs, fish, etc.) from a licensed fisherman/woman must also be licensed to purchase the seafood. The fees range from $300 to $450 depending upon the species to be purchased. While this language may have been designed to affect wholesale or retail dealers of marine species, it could be interpreted to include businesses such as restaurants or, in the most extreme interpretation of the language, to individuals who go to a boat to buy lobsters for dinner.
Lastly, Article 7 increases the Oil Spill Prevention Administration and Response (OSPAR) fee from five cents ($.05) per barrel on petroleum products brought into the state to ten cents ($.10) per barrel. The five cent fee raises about $1.5 million annually. Three cents of the new fee would go to a new climate change fund called the Ocean State Climate Adaptation and Resilience Fund. The other two cents would stay in the OSPAR Fund. Monies in the OPSAR fund have been taken each year for many projects unrelated to the original purpose of the fund. The fund will soon not be able to meet the needs of the original purpose – a preemption fund for marine oil spills.
The following bills were filed last week:
House Bill No. 7107 Knight, Cassar, McEntee, Speakman, Blazejewski, AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC PROPERTY AND WORKS -- STATE PURCHASES (Requires the state, including all its agencies and departments, to purchase one hundred percent (100%) of their energy needs from renewable sources by January 1, 2031.)
House Bill No. 7108 Knight, Cassar, McEntee, Speakman, Blazejewski, AN ACT RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT -- MOTOR VEHICLES OWNED BY A GOVERNMENTAL BODY (Requires that all vehicles owned and operated by a governmental body be electric powered within ten (10) years, exclusive of trucks and law enforcement vehicles.)
House Bill No. 7120 Bennett, McNamara, Edwards, Cassar, Corvese, AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY -- LICENSING OF MASSAGE THERAPISTS (Moves the disciplinary process for massage therapists from the board of physical therapy to the board of massage therapists.)
House Bill No. 7142 Williams, Craven, Blazejewski, Knight, Alzate, AN ACT RELATING TO CRIMINAL PROCEDURE - EXPUNGEMENT OF CRIMINAL RECORDS (Provides those persons who have previously been convicted of marijuana possession, which would now constitute a decriminalized offense, to have their records for those convictions automatically expunged regardless of their criminal history.)
House Bill No. 7153 Corvese, Canario, Vella-Wilkinson, Azzinaro, Ucci, AN ACT RELATING TO COMMERCIAL LAW - UNFAIR SALES PRACTICES - GIFT CERTIFICATES (Requires issuers of gift certificates to deposit and hold funds used to purchase the gift certificate in escrow for three (3) years, or until the gift certificate is redeemed, and would restrict certain redemption terms in the event of bankruptcy.)
House Bill No. 7157 Bennett, Lima, Canario, Jackson, Blazejewski, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- MINIMUM WAGES (Increases the minimum wage starting on July 1, 2020, from the present amount of $10.50 each year until July 1, 2024 where it will reach $15 per hour.)
House Bill No. 7163 Bennett, Canario, Jackson, Vella-Wilkinson, Handy, AN ACT RELATING TO FOOD AND DRUGS -- SINGLE-USE PLASTIC STRAWS (Prohibits food service establishments from providing plastic straws, unless requested by the consumer. Notices and fined issued upon violation.)
House Bill No. 7164 Bennett, Canario, Jackson, Vella-Wilkinson, Handy, 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.)