Under The Dome – May 8, 2017

Call To Action!!!

The Chamber needs your help now!  Please contact your State Representative and State Senator to tell them you OPPOSE the passage of H.5413 and S.290.  These bills would mandate businesses to provide the most generous paid leave benefit in New England, (it is more generous than any other state law) to their employees. 

H.5413 and S.290 require the following:

  • Every employer, regardless of size, must give employees one hour of paid leave for every thirty hours worked up to a maximum of fifty-six hours a year (seven days paid leave)
  • Employees are required to give reasonable notice if they can do so.  The language is the same as the Massachusetts law which has led to the problem of “no call, no show, no problem.”  Employers cannot ask an employee about the absence until that employee has been out for seventy-two (72) hours.  If the employee chooses not to alert the employer to his/her absence, the employer must wait three days and hold the job for the individual should he/she return on the fourth day.
  • Employees can take paid time off for their own medical needs, family members or anyone with a family type “affinity” to the employee.  This means the employer will have to attempt to determine who the employee is close to in order to make a decision as to whether the leave was appropriate.

Time can also be taken for domestic violence issues, if a school is closed for a health emergency or if the employee or someone with affinity is being stalked.

Please contact your State Representative and State Senator and report any response back to the Chamber.  Thank you!!!


 Phase Three of Legislative Session Underway

As stated previously in UTD, the legislature has entered phase three of the legislative session.  A majority of the hearings have taken place, and negotiations between the House, Senate and Governor’s office have begun over bills that may pass during session.  This process requires both leadership teams to determine which bills have general support from the members of the legislature.  The Revenue Estimating Conference ends this week, meaning all three branches will agree on a final revenue number for the 2018 fiscal year budget and negotiations on the budget will accelerate as well.  All of this flurry of activity signals the legislature’s desire to adjourn sometime in mid to late June.  Whether they achieve that goal is largely based on the ability to resolve differing budget priorities.


Senate Labor Committee Schedules Vote on Lien Bill – Wednesday

S.192, An Act Relating to Labor and Labor Relations – Payment of Wages is scheduled to be voted on Wednesday, May 10th in the Senate Labor Committee.  This bill would allow employees to place a lien on an employer’s property if he/she believes wages have not been properly paid.  The process is as follows:

  1. Employee sends letter to employer stating the amount owed in wages and the address of the employer’s property that the employee intends to place a lien against
  2. The employer has 30 days to file a complaint in Superior Court in order to stop the lien. If no complaint is filed within the 30 days, the employee can file the lien in the land evidence record of the city/town where the property is located.
  3. If the employer files the complaint and the court finds for the employee, the lien can be filed in the land evidence record and the employer must pay the employee’s attorney fees and court costs.
  4. If the employer files the complaint and prevails in court, no lien can be filed. If the employee is found to have filed a frivolous suit or for harassment only then the employee can be ordered by the court to pay the employer’s attorney fees and court costs.

S.192 provides little due process rights for employers and encourages employees to use the process because the employee has no costs associated with sending a letter, and very little cost for filing a lien.  Additionally, even if the employer believes no wages are owed, it will be cheaper to pay the employee the amount demanded than to pay court fees and attorney fees to fight and unfounded or misunderstood claim.  It is important to note that the Department of Labor and Training supported the concept of the bill.

The Chamber opposes the passage of S.192.  Please contact your Senator to express your opposition to this bill.


Senate Environment Amends Bill to Double Tax

S.442, An Act Relating to Waters and Navigation – Climate Change Coastal Adaptation Trust Fund, was amended last week and is headed for the Senate floor.  In the original form, S.442 called for a doubling of the petroleum per barrel that was first adopted in 1989.  The 5 cents per barrel fee was adopted to create a fund to allow DEM to quickly react to any petroleum spill in the coastal waters of RI.  However the fund has been “raided” over the years for other projects.  S.442 would have doubled the tax to 10 cents per barrel – raising an additional $1.8 million a year for projects made necessary due to rising tides and flooding.  The Senate Committee passed S.442SubstituteA creating the Climate change coastal Adaptation Trust Fund, but eliminated the new 5 cent per barrel fee.  The new version allows for money to be designated out of the general revenue fund at the legislature’s discretion, allows for the receipt of grant money and donations.


The following new bills were filed:

House Bill No. 6184AN ACT RELATING TO PUBLIC UTILITIES AND CARRIERS — PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION (Precludes electric distribution companies from including their gas transmission contracts or cost of facilities in the rate base for electricity customers.)

House Bill No. 6192AN ACT RELATING TO TOWNS AND CITIES (Exempts both the land and building of the Stadium Theatre Performing Arts Centre in Woonsocket and as identified by street address and plat and lot number.)

House Bill No. 6193AN ACT RELATING TO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES (Prohibits individuals from completing alcohol-server training requirements from online or Internet sources.)

House Bill No. 6198AN 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.)


The Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce Coalition is the voice of business at the Rhode Island State House. We advocate for and against issues of importance to our members. If you have any concerns, questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact the Chamber of Commerce Coalition coordinator and lobbyist at (401) 334-1000 or by email at advocacy@nrichamber.com

The Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce Coalition is coordinated by the Northern Rhode Island Chamber of Commerce.