• Under The Dome

    Do You Want to Run For Office?
    The Chamber is looking for people who have an interest in running for office, but time is running out.  Declaration Forms must be filed with your local board of canvassers on June 24th, 25th or 26th.  The form can be found at https://vote.sos.ri.gov/Forms/elections/Forms/24DeclarationofCandidacy.pdf  It must be filed out and filed with an ORIGINAL signature.  After the declaration form is filed, a candidate must collect signatures from other registered voters in the same district.  To run for state senate, you need 100 signatures.  To run for state representative, you need 50 signatures.  If you have an interest in running, please contact the Chamber.
    Action Needed – Contact Your State Senator and Representative
    We continue to ask you to contact your state representative and state senator concerning four bills (H.7171/S.2121 – expansion of temporary care giver benefits and H.7793/S.2467 – expansion of family leave benefits). 
    H.7171 and S.2121 Acts Relating to Labor and Labor Relations – Temporary Disability Insurance
    Expand the TCI benefit to cover employees who wish to take time to care for a sibling (including half-siblings and foster siblings), a grandchild or a “care recipient.”  A “care recipient” is defined as “a person for whom the employee is responsible for providing or arranging health or safety related care, including, but not limited to, helping the person obtain diagnostic, preventive, routine, or therapeutic health treatment.” 
    Increase the benefit provided to twelve (12) weeks in a benefit year beginning January 1, 2025.  This benefit was first extended to employees in 2014 at four (4) weeks.  The legislature increased it to five (5) weeks in 2022 and to six (6) weeks in 2023.  The employer is required to hold the job for the employee that is on leave.  
    H.7793 and S.2467, Acts Relating to Labor Relations – Rhode Island Parental and Family Medical Leave Act, increase the number of benefit weeks provided to employees from thirteen weeks every two years, to twenty-four weeks every two years.  While the Chamber understands that this is unpaid leave, the employer must still keep the employee’s job waiting for the person’s return.  
    In a state like Rhode Island, standing up for your business can seem like a daunting task. But that is exactly why we need voices like yours to tell lawmakers the real-world impact of certain policy choices. If they do not hear your story, they cannot be expected to understand the impacts legislation can have on your business.
    This Week At the State House
    Tuesday, May 21st 
    Financial Institution tax changes will be heard in the Senate Finance Committee at 3:00 in room 211.  In 2015, the Chamber was heavily involved in a debate that resulted in the General Assembly adopting a major change in the way it taxes businesses operating in multiple states.  While some businesses are taxed based on the proportion of sales in Rhode Island versus the sales in other states (referred to as a single sales factor test), financial institutions are taxed based on a calculation that considers the payroll generated in the state, the property valuation in the state and the sales generated in the state (referred to as a three-factor test).  The single sales factor was chosen for most businesses because the three-factor test penalizes businesses that increase the number of employees in the state and that add to their physical footprint here.  At the time of adoption, the use of the three-factor test made sense for financial institutions given the other economic programs available to this industry.  However, those programs are no longer in use, creating a much different landscape for some financial institutions.
    The Governor’s Amendment #19 request to the budget allows a banking institution to choose to continue the use of the three-factor test, or to choose the single sales factor test.  Once chosen, the institution must stick with that test for five years.
    Massachusetts recently passed legislation adopting the single sales factor test and included financial institutions. This change creates a strong economic incentive for these businesses to move across the border.  The House Fiscal Analysis estimates the revenue loss at $7.7 million for FY2025 and $15.4 million for FY2026.  However, that must be considered along with the potential revenue loss in income and corporate taxes should a financial institution choose to relocate.  Twenty-six states have adopted the single sales factor apportionment for banks.
    Wednesday, May 22nd
    H.8242, An Act Relating to Health and Safety – The Rhode Island Comprehensive Health Insurance Program, will be heard in the House Finance Committee at the Rise (approximately 5:00) in Room 35.  This chapter creates the Rhode Island comprehensive health insurance program (RICHIP), as an independent state government agency with a Director, and authority to hire staff as necessary.  RICHIP would annually establish benefits package for participants, including a formulary and a list of other medically necessary goods, as well as a procedure for handling complaints and appeals relating to the benefits package.  The agency would have the authority to establish RICHIP provider reimbursements and a procedure for handling provider complaints and appeals and review budget proposals from providers.  Except for emergency and urgently needed service, RICHIP would not pay for healthcare services obtained outside of Rhode Island unless the out-of-state provider agrees to accept the RICHIP rate for out-of-state providers and the services are considered medically necessary care. H.8242 declares it unlawful for a private health insurer to sell health insurance coverage to qualified Rhode Island residents that duplicates the benefits provided under this legislation.  How is this program funded?  It begins with a 10% payroll tax where employers are responsible for 80% and employees are responsible for 20% (the employer may choose to pay up to 100%).  The tax is calculated using a prior three-year average for the wages.  Self employed individuals pay 100%.  After the initial rate is utilized, the Director may readjust the rates to require higher income individuals to contribute more and reduce the tax on lower income individuals.  The bill also calls for “a progressive contribution based on unearned income, i.e., capital gains, dividends, interest, profits, and rents.”  The bill can bill reviewed in its entirety at https://webserver.rilegislature.gov/BillText/BillText24/HouseText24/H8242.pdf  If you wish to submit testimony, send the letter to HouseFinance@rilegislature.gov by 1:00 Wednesday.  
    Thursday, May 23rd 
    The Treasurer’s Baby Bond Trust Fund is scheduled for hearing in the Senate Finance Committee at the Rise in room 211.  After January 1, 2025, upon birth of an uninsured child or a child that qualifies for Rite Care, the Treasurer would transfer $3000 from the General Funds to a trust fund for that child.  The funds would gain interest over time and could be used for higher education or trade school, apprenticeship program, ownership of a home in Rhode Island, purchase of a vehicle from a Rhode Island dealer or ownership of a business.  
    The following new bill was filed last week:
    House Bill No. 8274  J. Lombardi, Hull, Potter, Stewart, Morales, Felix, Tanzi, Ajello, Handy, Sanchez, AN ACT RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- WORKPLACE PSYCHOLOGICAL SAFETY ACT (Protects bullying/psychological abuse in workplace inflicted upon employees by employers/co-employees/provides civil remedies to affected employees/fines against employers/imprisonment/fines against co-employees.)  http://webserver.rilin.state.ri.us/BillText/BillText24/HouseText24/H8274.pdf 
    House Bill No. 8279  Diaz, Cortvriend, Handy, Fogarty, Shallcross Smith, Ajello, Slater, Kennedy, Azzinaro, Perez, AN ACT RELATING TO COMMERCIAL LAW -- GENERAL REGULATORY PROVISIONS -- CONSUMER ENFORCEMENT OF ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY DEVICE WARRANTIES (Requires manufacturers of assisting technology devices to make available to independent repair providers/the owner of the device, any documentation/parts, software/other items intended for use with the equipment/parts, including updates to software.)

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