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.)
Hub Digital Marketing is offering another online class with special pricing for Chamber members!
Blogging is one of the MOST effective things you can do online to help grow your business, engage your customers and increase sales without spending thousands of dollars on advertising. Click to get access to "Stop Whining, Start Blogging" and learn all of our top tips to make blogging easier and more effective.
Use the code "CHAMBER" for a special Chamber member price starting 2/14/17.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org 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.