2019 Legislative Agenda

 Business Climate
A critical piece of strengthening Rhode Island’s economy is reducing the burden on businesses, at both the state and municipal levels. There must be certainty and efficiency in Rhode Island’s business climate to encourage businesses to grow and relocate in Rhode Island. 

Actions:

  • Monitor and oppose any legislative actions related to employment mandates that would make Rhode Island an outlier relative to other states’ labor and employment laws or create state law that is redundant with Federal law.

  • Support legislation which would preempt municipal workplace mandates and create uniformity on employment law in Rhode Island.

  • Support legislation which would eliminate state requirement for Sunday and Holiday premium pay

  • Defend the business community against unfair or unnecessary mandates, particularly those related to:

Restrictive scheduling mandates

Restrictions on data usage for online transactions (so-called “data privacy” bills)

Independent contractor classification – inconsistent state standard

Net neutrality

Mandatory state-run retirement plans

Health insurance mandates when not accompanied by a cost analysis

Expanding legal liability for businesses, particularly regarding immediate liens for alleged unpaid wages and allegations for workplace bullying

  • Advocate for continued predictability for minimum wage.

  • Support initiatives to update laws and regulations to better reflect innovative uses for Blockchain technology.

  • Work with stakeholders to identify common sense solutions to address workplace issues such as gender pay inequity and human resource training.

Competitive Tax Code
A fair and equitable tax system promotes private sector growth and makes Rhode Island more competitive.

Actions:

  • Defend recent tax reforms which have made Rhode Island more attractive for investment.

  1. Corporate tax rate reduction

  2. Personal income tax rate reduction

  3. Unemployment insurance tax reforms

  4. Motor vehicle excise tax reforms

  5. Property tax rate cap reforms

  • Reform existing estate tax law to ensure Rhode Island remains in line with other states

  • Support legislative proposals which would reduce the property tax on businesses

  • Create limits on rate classifications (business v. commercial).

  • Create limits on tangible property tax rates.

Unemployment Insurance Reform

The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce would like the unemployment insurance system to provide benefits to unemployed workers, but only when the loss of employment is unforeseeable. 

Action:

  • Support legislation that would allow seasonal employers to be exempt from the unemployment insurance system, similar to existing Massachusetts law.

Education and Workforce Development
Investments in workforce training are vital to ensuring that employers have access to the talent they need in Rhode Island and that residents have greater employment opportunities. The Chamber continues to support investment in education and workforce development.

Actions:

  • Support increased funding for career and technical education.

  • Support K-12 education reforms which will materially improve the outcomes of our public education system to assure employers have access to the talent they need and that residents have greater employment opportunities.

Temporary Disability Insurance Reform
Rhode Island is one of a handful of states that still requires private sector workers to pay into a Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) fund, even when their employers offer private temporary disability insurance.

Action:

  •  Allow employees who are covered by an employer-sponsored disability program to opt out of the state TDI program.

Legalization of Marijuana – Rights of Employers

Ensuring that businesses have the ability to set appropriate workplace guidelines relative to recreational marijuana use is of the utmost importance for the business community.

Actions:

  • Draft and propose amendments which will clarify that employers are not required to permit or accommodate the use, sale or possession of marijuana in the workplace and will preserve the right of employers to enforce policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees and protect employers from legal liability for exercising their rights.

  • Draft and propose amendments to Rhode Island’s restrictive statute regarding drug testing in the workplace.