An Update from the State House
H.5451 and S. Acts Relating to Businesses and Professions – Contractors’ Registration and Licensing Board are both being considered by the General Assembly this session. The bills require any applicant for a license or registration issued by the Contractors’ Registration Board to undergo a national criminal background check. If certain crimes show up on the back ground check, the enforcement agency conducting the background check must notify the Contractors’ Registration Board that “disqualifying information has been uncovered.” Those crimes include: murder, voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, first-degree sexual assault, second-degree sexual assault, third-degree sexual assault, first-degree child molestation sexual assault, second-degree child molestation sexual assault, assault on persons sixty (60) years of age or older, assault with intent to commit specified felonies (murder, robbery, rape, burglary, or the abominable and detestable crimes against nature), felony assault, patient abuse, neglect or mistreatment of patients, burglary, first-degree arson, robbery, felony drug offenses, felony obtaining money under false pretenses, felony embezzlement, abuse, neglect and/or exploitation of adults with severe impairments, exploitation of elders, felony larceny, felony banking law violations, or willful trespass. The Board Executive Director would then meet with the applicant to obtain the facts surrounding the “disqualifying information” and make a determination as to whether the applicant should be rejected or permitted to obtain the license or registration. The final determination rests with the Executive Director of the Contractors’ Registration Board. Proponents believe this will protect RI citizens from potential crimes as contractors often work inside the home in close proximity with home owners and their families. Opponents fear this process will hinder the ability of former inmates to rejoin society in a productive way.
House Finance Committee to Hold Budget Hearings
On Tuesday March 21, at the Rise (approximately 4:30), the Finance Committee will take testimony from the public concerning the reduction or elimination of the motor vehicle excise tax. The Governor’s proposal calls for a 30% reduction in the valuation of motor vehicles – roughly a $58 million ticket item for the state. Speaker Mattiello has committed to reducing the tax by about $40 million in this fiscal year with a subsequent reduction to occur in each of the following 5 years until the tax is eliminated. Raimondo has said that the elimination of the tax would cost the state $215 million.
On Wednesday, March 22, at the Rise (approximately 4:30), the Finance Committee will hear testimony on Articles 8 and 9 of the Governor’s budget. Budget Article 8 – includes a fifty (50) cent per pack increase in the cigarette tax. This tax, estimated to raise $8.7 million would be divided into three buckets: $500,000 for a tobacco control program, $2.5 million for a Department of Environmental Outdoor Recreation Investment program and $5.7 million for the general fund. This tax would be the second highest in the country – second to the state of New York. Other new products that would be subject to the tax include: cigars, cheroots, stogies, smoking tobacco, chewing tobacco, hookah, shisha, snuf and hollow cylindrical or cone tobacco paper.
Article 8 also establishes new penalties for violating almost every tax law requirement including corporate taxes, sales tax, tax credit laws, conveyance taxes, gift taxes….the list goes on. The proposal states that if a person or corporation violates a tax law, the Division of Taxation can: 1) revoke a license or permit that is issued by the Division; 2) order the person/corporation to cease the violation; and/or 3) levy an administrative penalty between $100 and $50,000. Additionally the Division could assess an additional penalty equal to the costs it incurred for both inside and outside legal counsel fees.
New Bill Filed to Give Employees New Remedies
H.5931, which was filed last week, seeks to provide new legal remedies to employees. While the bill reads like a coded message, it can be discerned with a little work. The bill basically gives employees (1) a private right of action, (2) protection from whistle blowing and (3) the right to job reinstatement and health benefits reinstatement, in the event the employee believes the employer has violated state laws relating to employment hours for children, wage discrimination based on sex, minimum wage violations, employees manufacturing products from their home, holiday businesses and holiday and Sunday work. The biggest change is the ability to file a private right of action in court instead of going to the Department of Labor and Training for administrative relief. This process is more costly for employers. The bill can be found at: http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText17/HouseText17/H5931.pdf
Small Cell Wireless Technology Bill To Be Considered By Committee
H.5944 – An Act Relating to Public Utilities and Carriers – Small Cell Siting Act. This bill seeks to position Rhode Island to deploy new wireless telecommunications technology to handle increased cell traffic and 5G technology. Small cell base stations are set to play an important role in expanding the capacity of wireless networks; and no state has – as of yet – deployed the technology on a large scale. These cells provide flexibility at less cost. The technology also reduces the number of large cell towers needed, as small cells can be placed on existing poles, street lights, etc. However, carriers need to install many small cells to communicate with each other. H.5944 encourages the installation of small cells by eliminating the ability of a municipality to charge a rental fee for placing a cell on public property. The City or Town could charge permitting fees for the initial installation, and the Carrier would maintain sole responsibility for installation and maintenance of the cell. Some communities in other states have attempted to charge up to $4,000.00 for one cell site which has caused difficulties in establishing the new technology. H.5944 seeks to eliminate that possibility. The House Corporations Committee will take testimony on the bill Tuesday, March 21st at the Rise.
The following bills were filed:
House Bill No. 5908, AN ACT RELATING TO CORPORATIONS, ASSOCIATIONS, AND PARTNERSHIPS (Imposes a fee of one hundred sixty dollars ($160) for all domestic and foreign corporations for a certificate of authority to transact business in this state.)
House Bill No. 5911, AN ACT RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT - STATEWIDE SITE READINESS FUND (Creates the statewide site readiness fund a state sponsored fund for the preparation of shared ready commercial, industrial and manufacturing property in the state.)
House Bill No. 5946, AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY (Prohibits retail sales establishments from making available to their customers, plastic checkout bags, or plastic water bottles or expanded polystyrene disposable food containers at the point of sale.)
Senate Bill No. 584, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS - PAYMENT OF WAGES (Eliminates repealed statute references and creates a mechanism for workers to enforce their existing right to continuation of medical benefits, reinstatement after returning from being a temporary caregiver and Sunday pay wage laws.)
Senate Bill No. 586, AN ACT RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY (Requires registration and criminal background checks of individuals who provide personal care assistant services.)
Senate Bill No. 618, AN ACT RELATING TO CORPORATIONS, ASSOCIATIONS, AND PARTNERSHIPS - RHODE ISLAND NONPROFIT CORPORATION ACT (Simplifies process for foreign corporations to obtain certificate of authority by producing only certificate of good standing legal assistance from incorporating state or country.)
Improving the overall business climate in our state is one of the primary goals of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce. Working on behalf of our members, the chamber is committed to a number of specific priorities, including advocating for specific small business issues that will affect our members, supporting industry sector projects that will enhance the vitality of the entire county, and supporting education and workforce development initiatives underway to ensure we have the skilled workforce we need into the future.
For many small businesses, the cost of health insurance continues to grow and is the second-largest cost to employers after payroll. The chamber is working on behalf of the small business community by participating in the Small Business Administration Committee on Health Care and by coordinating regular meetings with state leaders to discuss potential solutions.
We are engaged in strategies to reduce overall costs to the system, as well as realistic approaches around innovation and entrepreneurship opportunities to enable direct and immediate impact. We hope to share more information on progress in this area in the near future.
Additionally, the chamber supports state matching funds of the Small Business Administration, Small Business Development Center and Center for Women and Enterprise federal resources. These valuable federal agencies provide tremendous business development tools and resources that have provided excellent programs for the small business community. Many of those programs can be found on the chamber’s website and their workshops take place right in our boardroom throughout the year.
The chamber recognizes the importance of the defense, marine trades, health care and hospitality and tourism industries to our local economy. We are continuously monitoring legislation that will impact those industries and advocating for continued statewide support for these sectors in the areas of cluster growth, infrastructure investment, and workforce development.
As we grow the local economy, education and workforce development are essential resources. The chamber will continue to promote education and workforce development opportunities through marketing and outreach on behalf of our trade associations and education partners. This will include continued participation in the Newport Working Cities Grant, whose mission is to address systems change in an effort to assist unemployed and underemployed residents to find upward mobility.
We will continue to offer job bank and job fair opportunities for employers and individuals seeking work, and will support regional efforts regarding the enhancement of our industry clusters.
We see regional economic development coordination as one of our key responsibilities, and we will continue to bring together key stakeholders and facilitate regular meetings with our leaders, government officials, and town and city representatives.
In addition to these efforts and legislative priorities, the chamber also will be implementing the Politics and Pancakes series to bring statewide conversations to Newport County for the entire community. Our first event will take place on Thursday from 8-9:30 a.m. at the Hotel Viking with Gov. Gina Raimondo.
Dear Rhode Island Veteran,
As a current or potential business owner, my office, along with our partner agencies are committed to providing you the best possible service to help you meet your entrepreneurial goals. Your service and sacrifice deserves nothing but the best, and to ensure we are meeting your needs I am asking you to kindly complete the below survey. The average time to complete the survey is just over 2 minutes, however, the combined data will allow us to significantly improve our services to you. Thank you for being an active participant in Rhode Island’s goal of leading the Nation in Veteran Services.
Director, RI Division of Veteran Affairs
Director, Veteran Business Outreach Centers of New England
An Update from the State House
Legislative Bill Filing Deadline
The House has extended the bill filing deadline to February 28, 2017. The Senate’s deadline was February 16, 2017. For those reasons, we can expect many bills to be released to the public the last week of February through the first two weeks of March. Stay tuned to UTD for new bills!
House Finance Committee Schedules Hearing for March 2nd
On March 2nd at approximately 4:30pm, the House Finance Committee will take testimony from the public concerning the proposed budget - Article 2 – Manufacturers. As you may recall from a previous edition of UTD, Article 2 seeks to assist manufacturers in order to grow the economy. It expands the Innovation Voucher program by allowing up to $1 million of the fund to be used for research and development by and for small manufacturers. It establishes a Refundable Tax Credit; and the Article creates a Refundable Jobs Training Tax Credit for manufacturers. The hearing will be held in Room 35 in the basement of the State House.
Marijuana Legalization Bill Filed
H.5555, An Act Relating to Food and Drugs – Adult Use of Cannabis Act, is a 47 page piece of legislation, which was filed officially February 16, 2017. This bill proposes to decriminalize the purchase, transport or possession of 1oz, of marijuana on the person or in a car; or 5 oz. or less of marijuana in a person’s home. The individual must be 21 years of age. A person 21 years or older could also grow up to two plants - only one can be mature at a time - in his/her home (more plants are allowed if there are more adults living in the dwelling or if a person has a license to have additional plants).
Briefly, the bill authorizes the creation of “cannabis cultivation facilities” which cultivate, package and sell cannabis to retailers, not the general public. This facility is not permitted to create products from the cannabis which is grown.
H.5555 allows for the creation of cannabis “processors.” Processors can take the cannabis and make products, as well as to sell cannabis paraphernalia and seeds. They can also purchase from cultivation facilities. The processor appears to be the only entity that can extract oils or other components from plants to be used to make edibles.
A retailer must be 21 years of age or older. The retailer can purchase from a cannabis cultivation facility or a cannabis producer, and can sell to the public.
The bill states that driving while under the influence is not permitted, nor is the possession of cannabis by a prisoner. Smoking cannabis in a public place is a violation of law subject to a fine of $150. H.5555 also says that employers are not required to accommodate the use, possession of cannabis at the worksite, or working under the influence of cannabis. It does not say that a person can be fired, just that employers do not have to accommodate with wishes of employees.
Landlords CANNOT ban tenants from using non-smoking forms of cannabis.
There are many other provisions contained in the legislation, including penalties for underage consumption, acting outside the bounds of a classification, registration requirements, and a 23% excise tax (not for medical marijuana).
Legislature Takes a Break
As is the custom, the General Assembly is on legislative break February 20-24. For that reason, there will be no edition of Under the Dome February 27th.
The following bills were filed last week:
House Bill No. 5479, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- EMPLOYMENT SECURITY (Creates a seasonal employment designation for purposes of unemployment insurance, which would allow employers regularly hiring employees on a recurring basis for less than 20 weeks to apply for a seasonal determination from the DTL.)
House Bill No. 5481, AN ACT RELATING TO WATERS AND NAVIGATION-RHODE ISLAND UNDERGROUND STORAGE TANK FINANCIAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT (Amends the Rhode Island Underground Storage Tank Financial Responsibility Act to streamline fund processes and clarify language within the law.)
House Bill No. 5485, AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC UTILITIES AND CARRIERS - TRANSPORTATION NETWORK COMPANY SERVICES - INSURANCE (Requires TNC drivers maintain commercial automobile liability insurance 24/7 and to park no closer than two hundred feet (200') from marked taxi stands.)
House Bill No. 5555, AN ACT RELATING TO FOOD AND DRUGS -- ADULT USE OF CANNABIS ACT (Establishes a system for the regulation and taxation for adult use and cultivation of marijuana.)
House Bill No. 5563, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION - PERSONAL INCOME TAX (Establishes a nineteen percent (19%) carried interest fairness fee for investment management services in order to tax the carried interest income of hedge fund and private equity investors as traditional ordinary earned income.)
Senate Resolution No. 277, JOINT RESOLUTION CREATING A SPECIAL LEGISLATIVE COMMISSION TO STUDY THE EFFECTS OF LEGALIZING MARIJUANA (Creates a 15 member commission to review and make recommendations on the effects of legalizing marijuana, and who would report back to the General Assembly by March 1, 2018, and expire on July 1, 2018.)
Senate Bill No. 284, AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC PROPERTY AND WORKS -- CONTRACTORS' BONDS (Prohibits state, general contractors, and construction managers from withholding a retainer of more than five percent (5%) from public works contracts.)
Senate Bill No. 287, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS - MINIMUM WAGES (Raises the minimum wage to $10.50 per hour effective July 1, 2017.)
Senate Bill No. 289, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS - MINIMUM WAGE (Allows employers to pay the greater or 75% of the state minimum wage rate, or the federal minimum wage rate to employees eighteen (18) years or younger during the first six hundred eighty (680) hours or ninety (90) days of their employment.)
Senate Bill No. 290, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- HEALTHY AND SAFE FAMILIES AND WORKPLACES ACT (Requires all employers to provide their employees with a minimum level of paid sick and safe leave including time to care for the employee's family members.)
Senate Bill No. 311, AN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION - PERSONAL INCOME TAX (Imposes 2% tax increase on personal income over $250,000 effective January 1, 2018.)
Senate Bill No. 312, AN ACT RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT - TOURISM AND DEVELOPMENT (Exempts houses, condominiums, and other residential dwelling units from state sales or hotel tax.)
Senate Bill No. 318, 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. 350, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS - PAYMENT OF WAGES (Prohibits employers from deducting from their employees' wages for spoilage, breakage, cash shortages, losses, fines, or penalties for tardiness, misconduct or quitting by an employee without notice.)
Senate Bill No. 351, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- TEMPORARY DISABILITY INSURANCE (Allows employees, of an employer that sponsors disability insurance programs, to elect to exempt them from temporary disability insurance coverage.)
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Today the Pell Center announced our Spring 2017 event series. Tickets to Pell Center events are free. Please RSVP in advance for each event on the Pell Center’s Eventbrite page, and call 401-341-2927 or email email@example.com with any questions or concerns.
Please note, most events this spring will take place at the Bazarsky Lecture Hall in the O’Hare Academic Center. The exception is our March 28, 2017 event, “Rockin’ the Free World,” which will take place at the DiStefano Lecture Hall in the Antone Academic Center.
The 1916 Easter Rising and the Origins of Modern Irregular Warfare
February 15, 2017, 7:00 p.m.
Bazarsky Lecture Hall
Dr. Timothy D. Hoyt, John Nicholas Brown Chair of Counterterrorism, U.S. Naval War College
On April 24, 1916 (Easter Monday), Irish rebels seized key locations in downtown Dublin and declared an independent Irish Republic. The “Easter Rising” ended in ignominious defeat, but also marked a new stage in Ireland’s struggle for national independence. Lessons learned from the Rising contributed directly to the success of Irish rebels in the Anglo-Irish War of 1919-1921. They also served as a model for future anti-colonial and independence struggles around the globe later in the 20th century.
Racial Equity: What is the Call to Action for Higher Education?
Thursday, March 2, 2017, 7:30 p.m.
Bazarsky Lecture Hall
Bethany Johnson-Javois, CEO of the St. Louis Integrated Health Network
Bethany Johnson-Javois, Former Ferguson Commission Managing Director and CEO of the St. Louis Integrated Health Network will engage with attendees to re-connect with their leadership purpose and reflect on lessons learned from her work to address community-level trauma and toxic stress spurred by the events in Ferguson, MO on August 9, 2014. Ms. Johnson-Javois will outline a series of calls to action for higher education that offer a path to what generational change will require, using the lens of racial equity.
The Future of U.S. Asia Policy Under a Trump Administration
Thursday, March 21, 2017, 7:00 p.m.
Bazarsky Lecture Hall
A panel of distinguished experts will discuss the future of the U.S. Asia Policy under a Trump Administration. In the course of the moderated discussion, the panelists will discuss issues such as the threats posed to freedom of navigation in the Asian maritime commons, the future of the US-India relationship, and perceptions of the new U.S. administration and of its Asia policy from different Asian capitals, including Beijing. The presentations will be followed by a short Q and A with the audience.
Rockin’ the Free World
Tuesday, March 28, 2017, 7:00 p.m.
DiStefano Lecture Hall
Dr. Sean Kay, Professor in the Department of Politics and Government, Ohio Wesleyan
In Rockin’ the Free World, international relations expert Sean Kay takes readers inside “Bob Dylan’s America” and shows how this vision linked the rock and roll revolution to American values of freedom, equality, human rights, and peace while tracing how those values have spread globally. Rockin’ the Free World then shows how artists have engaged in advancing change via opportunity and education; domestic and international issue advocacy; and within the recording and broader communications industry. The book is built around primary interviews with prominent American and international performing artists ranging from Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees and Grammy winners to regional and local musicians. The interviews include leading industry people, management, journalists, heads of non-profits, and activists. The book concludes with a look at how musical artists have defined the American experience and what that has meant for the world.
Unconditional Surrender: The Failure of Peace Negotiations in the American Civil War
April 20, 2017, 6:30 p.m.
Bazarsky Lecture Hall
James M. McPherson, George Henry Davis ’86 Professor of American History Emeritus at Princeton University and Pulitzer Prize-winning author
Most wars in American history have been ended by peace negotiations that led to a treaty between the contending parties: the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, even in some respects the Vietnam War. The two major exceptions are the Civil War and World War II, which ended in unconditional surrender and the utter destruction of the losing side’s government and political structure. The lecture will discuss the various efforts for a negotiated peace during the Civil War and will analyze why they failed–indeed, why they really had no chance to succeed.
Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War – Film Screening & Discussion
Tuesday, April 24, 2017, 7:00 p.m.
Bazarsky Lecture Hall
“Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War,” a film directed by Ken Burns and Artemis Joukowsky, tells the story of Waitstill and Martha Sharp, a Unitarian Minister and his wife from Wellesley, Massachusetts who spent nearly two years on life-threatening missions in Europe. The couple left their children behind in the care of their parish to help save political dissidents and Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazi occupation across Europe.
Newport Health Equity Zone
Community Project Mini-Grant
Request for Proposal
Due: Tuesday February 28, 2017
Awards will be announced by March 22, 2017
Anticipated Project Period: April 1, 2017 to December 31, 2017
Prompt: The Newport Health Equity Zone (HEZ) invites you to submit a project proposal for our Community Mini-Grant Project. We are looking for proposals that improve the health of residents in the HEZ through either neighborhood infrastructure improvements or supportive staffing. The Newport HEZ includes the North End and Broadway communities. In December of 2015, the HEZ collaborative members conducted a Needs Assessment which included surveys, interviews and focus groups. The data collected has been used to inform the content of this RFP and will be used to determine which project proposals are ultimately funded. Proposals are due no later than Tuesday February 28th at 11:59pm. Please e-mail all proposals to Olivia Kachingwe at firstname.lastname@example.org. Proposals can also be mailed to 114 Touro Street, Newport, RI 02840 and MUST be received prior to the due date.
For more information, click here
Representative Lauren Carson invites you to her First House District 75 constituent meeting of the 2017 Legislative session
On Monday evening February 6, at 6:30 in the Newport Library, Rep. Lauren Carson will be holding a special constituent meeting to discuss forming a House District 75 Small Business Advisory Council. She's asking small business owners to meet so that she may become a stronger advocate for them.
So join your neighbors and fellow business owners for a robust discussion on the Newport small business economy and how to make it stronger.
As usual, she will also report her activities in the 2017 Legislative session, and other legislative priorities, including flooding and sea rise, branding and tourism.
There is a school of thought, promoted right here in the Ocean State at Rhode Island School of Design, that calls for the integration of art and design with science and technology to provide a competitive edge in the global marketplace.
Innovation has often been synonymous with science, technology, engineering and math — STEM. With the addition of art and the flourishing design industry that follows, the STEAM movement can be instrumental in the creation of new industries and jobs to boost our economy. Science and creativity are converging, and we need to continue to equally support both to pull our economy forward.
In Rhode Island, Rep. Jim Langevin, D-R.I., has championed adding art and design into federal programs that target STEM fields to encourage innovation and economic growth. Government agencies have followed, and we are seeing the National Science Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts working together.
STEAM is becoming an emerging industry in Newport County with high-tech jobs and growth opportunities that are backed by workforce development initiatives.
As a voice for local businesses, the Newport County Chamber of Commerce seeks to highlight the importance and breadth of our emerging STEAM industries and their innovative capabilities. It is important that we align our efforts with the state’s focus, so we are an active partner in our state’s future success.
We plan to showcase the innovative work taking place in Newport County and provide our members with the opportunity to see first-hand the exciting new capabilities in our community. The Newport County Chamber of Commerce’s STEAM Before Hours series will offer an interactive experience for our members to see such exciting innovators as FabNewport and the capabilities of Community College of Rhode Island cyber range and the International Yacht Restoration School of technology and trade. We are hoping to visit Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, and some of our area’s top technology companies as well.
We encourage our members to join with us for our upcoming STEAM Before Hours series, which will be announced in our Chamber Spotlight, e-news, and at newportchamber.com. We also hope that all members of the community embrace the importance of STEAM as a catalyst for our future.
Erin Donovan-Boyle is executive director of the Newport County Chamber of Commerce. Commerce Spotlight appears every third weekend of the month in The Daily News and online at Newport DailyNews.com.