• Under The Dome

    Final 2024 Legislative Wrap-up
    In this last 2024 edition of Advocacy in Action, we provide you with a list of bills that have become law in 2024, along with the effective dates of the new laws.  Your Chamber was very engaged, tracking just over 400 pieces of legislation, and providing testimony on many of them verbally or in writing.  This year is an election year.  We encourage you to register and to vote in the September 10th Primary (early voting begins August 21st) and in the November 5th General Election (early voting begins October 16th). Thank you for reading this publication each week and for responding to “Calls to Action” when asked.  We will see you at the next Chamber event!

    New Laws Passed During the 2024 Legislative Session
    Labor Issues:
    Employee Retirement Program - S.2045 as amended/H.7127 as amended – Public Law Chapters 351 and 350 create the RI Secure Choice Retirement Savings Program within the Treasurer’s office.  The Treasurer may engage a third-party entity to administer the program.  Any company with more than 5 employees that does not have an existing retirement program for employees must allow those employees to participate in the State program by establishing a payroll deduction and deposit arrangement on behalf of each employee that chooses to opt in to the program.  The effective date is tiered.  Once the program is created, the Treasurer’s office must provide all necessary information to businesses.  Within 12 months of the creation of the program, all companies with 100+ eligible employees (that do not have another retirement program offered to employees) must offer this option to employees.  Within 24 months, companies with 50+ eligible employees must participate.  All companies with 5+ eligible employees are required to offer the program within 36 months of the implementation date of the program.  The laws specifically states that this program is a State program; therefore the employer has no legal liability for the performance of the program sponsor nor for an employee’s decision to opt in or out.   An employer that provides an employer-sponsored retirement plan, such as a defined benefit plan or a 401(k), 403(b), 457(b), simplified employee pension (SEP) plan, or savings incentive match plan for employees (SIMPLE) plan, or that offers an automatic enrollment payroll deduction IRA, is exempt from the requirements.  The link to the Public Law is not yet available.  The final version of the bill can be viewed at:  https://webserver.rilegislature.gov/BillText/BillText24/SenateText24/S2045aa.pdf 

    Temporary Caregiver Benefits - S.2121 SubA as amended/H.7171 Sub A as amended – Public Laws Chapters 333 and 332 make changes to the state’s temporary caregiver insurance (TCI) benefit law.  The TCI dependent’s allowance benefit will increase from $10 to $20 per month beginning January 1, 2025.  The law lengthens the benefit weeks available to employees from six weeks to seven weeks beginning January 1, 2025, and to eight weeks beginning January 1, 2026.  No change was made to the definition of eligibility for benefits.  The link to the public law is not yet available, however the final version of the bill can be viewed at:  https://webserver.rilegislature.gov/BillText/BillText24/SenateText24/S2121Aaa.pdf 

    Minimum Wage Study - S.2124 – Senate Resolution 235 creates an 11-member study commission to make a comprehensive study of Rhode Island’s minimum wage including a comparison and analysis of neighboring states practices and provide recommendations.  The commission, once named, will meet at the call of the Senate President.  https://webserver.rilegislature.gov/BillText/BillText24/SenateText24/S2124.pdf  

    New Poster Requirement for Businesses - S.2128/H.7058 – Public Law Chapters 196 and 195 require employers with 50 employees or more to display a poster containing information on veterans’ benefits available.  The Department of Labor and Training is charged with creating the poster and providing it to employers.  The new requirement takes effect January 1, 2025.  https://webserver.rilegislature.gov/PublicLaws/law24/law24196.htm 

    General Business Operation Issues:
    Outdoor Dining - S.2028 SubA/H.7064 SubA – Public Law Chapters 4 and 3 require municipalities to allow outdoor dining.  Communities may place limits on capacity, adopt barrier requirements, ban outdoor dining from 10:00pm to 7:00am, enforce noise ordinances and building codes.  Otherwise, food service establishments may operate outside all year.  https://webserver.rilegislature.gov/PublicLaws/law24/law24003.htm 

    Customer Paper Receipts and Invoices - S.2278 SubA/H.7940 SubA – Public Law Chapters 92 and 91 add a new action to the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.  Beginning January 1, 2025, it is illegal for businesses to charge any fee to a person 65 years of age or older for a hard-copy paper bill, statement, or invoice.  Anyone doing so, is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine of $500.  https://webserver.rilegislature.gov/PublicLaws/law24/law24092.htm 

    Data Privacy Requirements - S.2500 SubA as amended/H.7787 SubA as amended – Public Law Chapters 430 and 453 require any person or entity that processes personal data to (1) identify all categories of information the controller collects, (2) disclose such information in specific ways, (3) provide a customer with information relating to a process to exercise their customer rights, (4) disclose the purpose for processing the personal data, (5) publicly list the categories of personal data shared with a third party, and (6) provide a means to contact the controller. Entities that control or process personal data of not less than 35,000 customers or at least 10,000 customers and derive more than twenty percent (20%) of gross revenue from the sale of personal data are subject to additional disclosure requirements and must allow customers the right to opt out of the collection of personally identifiable information. There is an exemption for entities subject to the federal Gramm Leach Bliley Act. Language was also added to ensure businesses with rewards type programs can still collect the data needed to continue the programs. Any violation of this act would constitute a violation of the general regulatory provisions of commercial law and constitute a deceptive trade practice; however, no private right of action was included in the legislation.  This law does not become effective until January 1, 2026, giving the business community time to digest the many changes in the bill and to recommend further amendments next year.   The link to the public law is not yet available, however the final version of the bill can be viewed at: https://webserver.rilegislature.gov/BillText/BillText24/SenateText24/S2500Aaa.pdf 

    Arbitration Clauses - S.2671/H.7952 – Public Law Chapters 446 and 445 create new notice provisions and rights of a party to an arbitration that is not related to a collective bargaining agreement.  A party may serve notice of a demand for arbitration upon another party. If the served party fails to apply to stay the arbitration within 20 days of service, that party is barred from objecting that a valid agreement WAS NOT made or has not been complied with and loses the ability to assert a limitation of time claim in court.  The law includes a right to representation by an attorney during an arbitration.  If there are multiple parties seeking arbitration against a business, then the proceeding can be brought to court. In an employment or consumer arbitration, the drafting party of the clause (the business) must pay fees or costs to initiate an arbitration before the arbitration can proceed.  Mutual agreements to divide the cost is permitted.  The law also outlines penalties for a breach of agreement as well as court sanctions related to breaches. The law is now in effect.  The link to the public law is not yet available, however the final version of the bill can be viewed at:  https://webserver.rilegislature.gov/BillText/BillText24/SenateText24/S2671.pdf  

    Business Filing Requirements - S.2739 SubA as amended/H.7424 as amended – Public Law Chapters 335 and 334 centralize the filing, administration, and regulation process of trade names (currently called an “assumed name”) to the secretary of state instead of the local city or town. This act would also require an annual renewal of the trade name for a fee of $20. Failure to complete this registration does not impair the validity of any contract and shall not prevent such person or from defending any suit in court. The law takes effect January 1, 2025.  The link to the public law is not yet available, however the final version of the bill can be viewed at: 

    Uniform Commercial Code - S.2781/H.7210 SubA – Public Law Chapters 66 and 65 provide amendments to the Uniform Commercial Code for emerging technologies. This 112-page law took effect June 10, 2024.  https://webserver.rilegislature.gov/PublicLaws/law24/law24066.htm

    Taxation Issues:

    Delinquent Tax Filings - S.3056/H.8055 – Public Law Chapters 150 and 148 allow the Division of Taxation to share certain information with the Secretary of State’s office.  If an entity fails to pay its business corporation taxes or fees, the Division can notify the Secretary of State and the Secretary can, after notice, revoke the corporate charter or authorization to conduct business.  The law takes effect January 1, 2025.   https://webserver.rilegislature.gov/PublicLaws/law24/law24150.htm 

    Taxation of S.3152 SubA/H.7927 SubA – Public Law Chapters 159 and 158 allow a financial institution to elect to be taxed under the combined reporting single sales factor test like many another multi-jurisdictional businesses in Rhode Island.  https://webserver.rilegislature.gov/PublicLaws/law24/law24159.htm 

    Government Economic Development Issues:

    Economic Development Plan - S.2043 SubA/H.7246 SubA – Public Law Chapters 194 and 193 add climate change, sea-level rise, and coastal resiliency to the analysis of data of the strategic plan for economic development policy. This act would also change the number of members of the economic development planning council from 17 to 19 by adding the director of the department of environmental management and the executive director of the coastal resources management council.  https://webserver.rilegislature.gov/PublicLaws/law24/law24193.htm 

    Abandoned Property Publication - S.2992 SubA/H.7986 SubA as amended – Public Law Chapters 246 and 245 require each municipality to create and publish a list of all abandoned properties within the city or town.  The list must be placed on their websites starting April 2, 2025.  The law also makes changes to the procedure for the sale of abandoned property.  https://webserver.rilegislature.gov/PublicLaws/law24/law24246.htm 

    Industry Specific Issues: 

    Home Inspectors - S.2120 SubA/H.7015 SubA – Public Law Chapters 210 and 209 ban anyone, other than a licensed electrician, from testing wires, conduits and apparatus which includes fixtures, lighting, etc. This new law means, a potential buyer’s home inspector is no longer able to inspect switches, lights, or look at a panel to alert the buyer to potential problems.  However, there is conflicting law that states an electrical inspection may be undertaken by a home inspector.  The Department of Labor and Training will have to decide whether to rescind a home inspector’s license for conducting such inspections.  If the answer is yes, buyers, should they wish to have the dwelling’s electrical system included in an inspection, will need to hire a licensed electrician to perform the inspection – within the customary ten-day inspection period.  The law takes effect January 30, 2025.  https://webserver.rilegislature.gov/PublicLaws/law24/law24210.htm 

    Independent Contractor Filing - S.2472 SubA/H.7837 SubA – Public Law Chapters 198 and 197 clarify existing law.   The law calls for independent contractors to file annually with the Department of Labor.  A similar law passed last year and became effective January 1, 2024.  The court reviewed the statute and determined the language required further revision to clarify the intent of the Act.  This new law specifies that independent contractors must file annually for each client in order to be legally considered an individual contractor.  The process is simple.  To file DWC-11-IC form online, go to:  https://dlt.ri.gov/workers-compensation/independent-contractors  If you are a company that hires independent contractors, the Chamber encourages you to verify the form has been filed.  The link to the public law is not yet available, however the final version of the bill can be viewed at: https://webserver.rilegislature.gov/BillText/BillText24/SenateText24/S2472A.pdf 

    MBE Bonding Requirements - S.2902 as amended/H.7057 SubA – Public Law Chapters 229 and 228 allow the state chief purchasing officer to waive the bonding requirement for a certified minority business enterprise (MBE) or women owned business enterprise (WBE) prime contractor or subcontractor on a public works project for up to $250,000.  https://webserver.rilegislature.gov/PublicLaws/law24/law24229.htm

    Governor vetoes bills:

    The Governor vetoed two bills of particular interest to the business community.  To override the veto, the legislature must come back into session (anytime prior to the beginning of the 2025 session) and garner a 3/5 affirmative vote in both the House and Senate.  At this time, no session has been scheduled.

    S.2436 SubA/H.8059 SubA – Acts Relating to Labor and Labor Relations – Rhode Island Noncompetition Agreement Act.  These bills ban the use of most non-compete clauses.  Rhode Island’s existing law that passed in 2019, places limitations on the use of noncompete agreements such as their duration, geographic scope or limiting their use with lower-wage workers.  As drafted, H.8059 SubA and S.2436 SubA could result in the need to rewrite thousands of contracts in the state of Rhode Island impacting employers of all sizes.  Both bills extend the prohibition of the use of noncompetes to all employees unless it is signed in connection with the purchase and sale of a business.  The bills do allow an employer to enter into an agreement with an employee “not to share any information, including after the employee is no longer employed by the employer, regarding the employer or the employment that is a trade secret, customer lists, including the names, addresses, identities of customers, or future business plans.”  https://webserver.rilegislature.gov/BillText/BillText24/SenateText24/S2436A.pdf https://webserver.rilegislature.gov/BillText/BillText24/HouseText24/H8059A.pdf 

    Still In Limbo:

    Decarbonization of Buildings - H.7617 SubA was amended from its original form to a comprehensive study to be conducted by the EC4 committee.  It was passed by the Senate in concurrence but has not been transmitted to the Governor yet.  The committee is charged with collecting data on buildings – public and privately-owned – with 25,000 square feet or more.  Information to be collected includes:  1. A summary of the State's building sector emissions using the best available data on what is known about the energy use intensity and emissions from large buildings;  2. An inventory of properties that would be subject to benchmarking and building performance standard requirements, including building type and size; 3. A summary of the best available data on current energy sources for large buildings, including delivered fuels such as oil, coal, and propane, natural gas, grid electricity, district energy systems, and on-site renewable energy; 4. The estimated costs pertaining to expected retrofits, alterations, and repairs that may be required to comply with the benchmarking program standards; 5. Identification of the State agency or agencies with relevant roles and responsibilities to develop and implement benchmarking and performance standards for large buildings; 6. An estimation of the staff and other resources, and associated annual budget, needed to develop and implement benchmarking and performance standards for large buildings; and 7. A recommended timeline for establishing and implementing benchmarking and performance standards for large buildings.  The original bills banned building permits for new or renovated buildings unless those building are designed to be all-electric ready or all electric, depending upon the building.  S.2952 SubA as amended does not match the final version of H.7617 SubA.  It was not turned into a study, although many of the data collection points from the House bill are contained in the Senate version.  S.2952 SubA retained the requirements to switch new large buildings and renovated buildings to electric-ready status.  The final fate of H.7617 SubA is unclear.

    Leave a Comment
    * Required field
  • Chamber Events