Chamber Connections BLOG
Chamber Connections BLOG
Session Enters Final Week
With the budget passed by the House Finance Committee, the full House scheduled to vote on the budget Thursday, and bills passing fast and furiously, the General Assembly appears to be heading into the final week of session. The House has posted a floor calendar for Tuesday through Saturday in the event extra days are needed. The Senate has posted a floor calendar for Tuesday, but expected to add days as needed. Also notable, is that the 48-hour committee posting rule does not apply to many bills after the 50th day of session, so hearings can pop up at any time.
Most of the bills posted for vote or hearing as of Sunday night are bills legislators had introduced earlier this year that found their way into the budget document. It is not unusual to pass the bills to recognize the legislators for their hard work in getting an initiative passed into law.
Tuesday Hearing – Senate Health and Human Services, at the Rise in room 211.
One bill, unrelated to language contained in the budget, is S.2769, An Act Relating to Health and Safety – Comprehensive Health Insurance Program. This 92-page bill creates a universal, single-payer health insurance system in Rhode Island. It sets rates, expands Medicare and Medicaid coverage, and increases paid leave to 160 hours a year. The sponsors anticipate paying for the program with increased efficiencies, federal dollars, state dollars, private grants, individual contributions in lieu of health insurance premiums, and a 10% payroll tax to be paid 80% by the employer and 20% by the employee. Self employed individuals would pay 10%. The bill allows the state to adjust the tax rate so that higher income bracket individuals pay more and lower income bracket individuals pay less. The bill is sponsored by Senator Sam Bell of Providence.
UI Trust Fund Big Win For the Chamber!
The House Finance Committee recommended passage of the FY2023 budget. Included in the $13.6 billion plan (which includes expenditures in outlying years) is a $100 million infusion of money into the Unemployment Trust Fund that was heavily depleted during the pandemic. The Chamber advocated strongly for this allocation. We wish to thank all the legislators who expressed support for the inclusion of the funds and, in particular, to Senate Finance Chairman Ryan Pearson and Representative Carol McEntee for their tireless efforts. The $100 million is expected to reduce the UI tax rate for 2023 (keep in mind your taxable wage base may likely increase due to the increase in employee wages). Thank you to everyone who communicated with legislators on this issue!
What Else is in the Budget?
The full budget can be viewed by clicking on the House Finance Agenda for June 9th State of Rhode Island General Assembly (rilegislature.gov) A few of the highlights are listed below:
Other policy-related items included in the budget are:
Are You Considering Running for Office?
If you are considering running for a General Assembly seat – House or Senate - the deadline is approaching quickly. The Chamber can be most effective when business people run for office. Declarations for candidacy must be filed June 27th 28th or 29th at the Local Board of Canvassers in the City or Town where you are registered to vote.
The Declaration of Candidacy is the document you sign to start the process of becoming a candidate. You “declare” yourself as a candidate for a particular office and if you wish to run as a party candidate, you also “declare” yourself to be a member of that party. All candidates for all public and party offices must file a Declaration of Candidacy.
More information can be found at Welcome to your Voter Information Center
New Bill Introductions:
Senate Bill No. 3011 McCaffrey, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- FAIR EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES (Restores the original legislative intent that employees may be held individually liable for their own discriminatory conduct.) S3011.pdf (state.ri.us)
Senate Bill No. 3012 McCaffrey, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- PAYMENT OF WAGES (Eliminates repealed statute references/creates mechanism for employees to enforce right to continuation of medical benefits/reinstates status and benefits after returning from being a temporary caregiver and for benefits relating to Sunday wage laws.) S3012.pdf (state.ri.us)