Coming up in Committee: Nineteen Sets of Bills Scheduled to be Heard by the RI General Assembly, April 3 – April 5, Part 2
8. H7592: Creates a board called the “East Bay Energy Consortium”, with members selected by East Bay town councils and granted the power, amongst others, “to fix, charge and collect rents, fees, rates, and charges for the use of any project or the electricity generated or delivered thereby and to make assessments and impose reasonable and just user charges” (H Environment and Natural Resources; Thu, Apr 5). Apparently the legislature thinks things are going too smoothly between East Bay residents and the Bristol County Water Authority, so they want to throw another regional body with revenue collecting powers into the works.
7. H7735: Detailed procedures for dealing with and possibly altering a patient’s “medical order for life sustaining treatment” (MOLST). A MOLST is defined as a “request regarding resuscitative measures that directs a health care provider regarding resuscitative and life sustaining measures” (H Health, Education and Welfare; Wed, Apr 4). The basic question about this bill is whether it is intended to make it easier or harder to end life-sustaining treatment for a patient who cannot make decisions for him or herself, relative to existing law.
6. S2737: 100% of “new revenues from either new and/or expanded forms of gambling shall be deposited into a restricted receipt account to fund elementary and secondary education on a state and local level” — and the state is not allowed to reduce education funding from other sources, as a result of the new revenue (S Special Legislation and Veterans Affairs; Wed, Apr 4).
5. S2406: Changes the ratio of 40% state/60% local for the employer contribution to the public school teacher retirement system, currently fixed in state law, to a state/local split that will be “each year determined by the Rhode Island department of elementary and secondary education” (S Finance; Wed, Apr 4).
4. H7388: Requires the state legislature to disregard the choice for President made by Rhode Island voters, and assign Presidential electors to the winner of the popular vote as determined by other states (H Judiciary; Tue, Apr 3). Supposedly this bill is motivated by a desire to have Presidential candidates pay more attention to Rhode Island, but that goal could be achieved — in time for the 2012 election — by honoring the choice made by Rhode Island voters, and only awarding electors on a winner take-all basis to a candidate who receives 62.5% of the state’s popular vote. Full explanation here.
3B. Proposed changes in the motor vehicle tax “exemption” and corresponding reimbursement. H7253 Raises the motor vehicle tax “exemption” back to $6,000 in distressed communities. H7350 sets the exemption at $3,000 in all RI communities and adds “the mileage of the vehicle” to the list of factors used to determine vehicle value (H Municipal Government; Thu, Apr 5).
3A. H7224: Mandates that car tax valuations be set according to “Kelley Blue Book values…for new vehicles for the year and vehicle model in question”, plus this formula:
Relative to the manufacture year of a vehicle, the excise tax paid on the vehicle or trailer shall be on one hundred percent (100%) of the vehicle’s presumptive value. Thereafter, in the sixth (6th) year, the vehicle shall be taxed at a rate of ninety-five percent (95%) of the presumptive value, and shall be reduced in each subsequent year by five percent (5%) until years fifteen (15) through nineteen (19), at which time the vehicle shall be taxed at a rate of fifty percent (50%) of the presumptive value. Thereafter in year twenty (20), the vehicle shall be taxed at a rate of forty-five percent (45%) of the presumptive value, and shall be reduced five percent (5%) per year in each subsequent year until years twenty-three (23) and twenty-four (24), in which the vehicle shall be taxed at a rate of thirty percent (30%) of the presumptive value.The bill also says that vehicle owners dissatisfied with the formula appraisal can submit an individual appraisal from a licensed RI appraiser. However, the law doesn’t say that the vehicle value commission has to do anything with that appraisal; it just adds an outside appraisal to the list of items that can be considered in the appeal process that is already on the books, but rarely if ever used to modify a valuation (H Municipal Government; Thu, Apr 5). Not having consulted with anyone about this bill, and speaking only for myself, I don’t think this is going to satisfy the Warwick Car Tax Revolters and others who have been active in this issue.
2. H7603: State Constitutional amendment (requiring approval by the voters) making clear that Ethics Committee jurisdiction extends to the state legislature (H Judiciary; Tue, Apr 3).
1B. H7859: An attempt to bring independent electioneering expenditures under a campaign-finance regime. Anyone — including individuals, not just corporations — who wants to independently spend more than $250 in a calendar year supporting/opposing a candidate for office or a position in a referendum would have to register with the Board of Elections (H Judiciary; Tue, Apr 3).
1A. H7899: Resolution asking Congress to begin the process of amending the Constitution to roll-back First Amendment protections and allow government restriction of both corporate and individual political activity (H Judiciary; Tue, Apr 3).