Coming up in Committee: Seventeen Sets of Bills Scheduled to be Heard by the RI General Assembly, May 8 – May 10
Local Impact: Barrington, Central Falls, Coventry 2, Exeter, I’m pretty sure, Middletown, Newport, North Providence 2 3, Providence, Smithfield, Warren, West Greenwich.
17. H8084/S2905: In the same week, both chambers of the state legislature will hear a bill to approve $250,000 in new “Promotional Points” for the state’s slot parlors (H Finance; Tue, May 8 & S Special Legislation and Veterans’ Affairs Wed, May 9). Why is this a priority?
16. H7801: Provisions for the removal of derelict and abandoned vessels in state waterways (H Finance; Wed, May 9). Are we sure we don’t have something in the law for this already? And why did this bill get moved from Environment and Natural Resources to Finance?
15. S2670: The weirdest bill yet in this session’s continuing battle to impose strange new regulations on the rental of motor vehicles. This one says that “examiners, field investigators, hearing officers, regulatory inspectors, and other employees of the Public Utilities Commission “designated by the administrator” will be granted “all powers of police officers” with respect to the sections of Rhode Island law pertaining to motor carriers of property, towing storage, motor passenger carriers, taxicabs, and public motor vehicles (H Corporations; Tue, May 8).
14. Auto body shop and insurance company bills (S2661, S2662, S2664, S2665, S2667, S2674, S2686). Also new regulations for being allowed to remove motor vehicles from accident sites (S2514) and a lift on the ban on mobile automobile glass repair (S2663) (S Judiciary; Tue, May 8).
13. S2878: Organizations “established and licensed by the department of behavioral healthcare, developmental disabilities and hospitals for the purpose of providing either employment, vocational supports, residential and/or day support services for adults with developmental disabilities” would be allowed to join together to form their own health insurance company for “employees, retirees and other beneficiaries” (S Health and Human Services; Wed, May 9). But if this is a good idea for some organizations, why isn’t it a good idea for the rest of us?
12. Various taxation changes. H8057 is a capital gains tax exemption for “new investments in Rhode Island businesses” that meet certain conditions; H7969 changes how farmland is assessed for estate-tax purposes and H7198 requires “corporations doing business in the state of Rhode Island shall add back into their taxable income any amount deducted under the federal “domestic production deduction” (H Finance; Tue, May 8).
11. H7910: Requires monitoring for the Johnston landfill, specifically for “the presence of odorous contaminants from landfill gas” (H Environment and Natural Resources; Tue, May 8).
10. S2606: Prohibition on price gouging of essential commodities; price gouging would be prohibited not only during a “a declaration of a state of emergency by the governor, or federal disaster declaration by the president”, but also during any “actual or anticipated market emergency or economic emergency” (S Corporations; Tue, May 8). Do the past several years count as an economic emergency that would trigger this bill?
9. H7341: Sales-tax permits that retailers must obtain in order to do business in Rhode Island would be valid in perpetuity, instead of having to be renewed annually (H Finance; Tue, May 8).
8. H7456: On its face, this bill appears to lower the minimum corporate tax in Rhode Island from $500 to $50… (H Finance; Tue, May 8) … but in reality, this bill, by itself, will have no impact on the taxes that businesses pay. It impacts only the minimum income tax and not the franchise tax, which with the way that RI law is currently structured, means that business owners who pay this tax still owe the state $500, $50 in corporate minimum tax and $450 in franchise tax.
7. H7072: Creates a position of Inspector General for the state of Rhode Island “charged with the purpose of preventing and detecting fraud, waste, abuse and mismanagement in the expenditure of public funds” (H Finance; Wed, May 9).
6. H7237: A $75,000,000 bond question “to provide funds to the Housing Resources Commission to be allocated to finance the cost of the Neighborhood Opportunities Program” to be placed on the November ballot (H Finance; Wed, May 9).
5. S2307, to paraphrase the official description, repeals the section of the law allowing pay-day lending; S2832 creates new regulations governing pay-day lenders (S Corporations; Thu, May 10).
4. H7132: Restores and freezes the regionalization bonus in the state education aid “funding formula” at 2% (H Finance; Wed, May 9).
3. H7454: Creates a new 10.09% tax-bracket on “head of household, unmarried individuals, married individuals filing separate returns and bankruptcy estates” making more than $200,000 per year and on “married individuals filing joint returns and qualifying widow(ers)” making more than $250,000 per year (H Finance; Tue, May 8).
2. S2251: Authorizes the use of a system “(1) Consisting of an electronically automated scanner and sensor; and (2) Capable of producing one or more digital images of the registration plate of a motor vehicle” (presumably linked to an appropriate database) for detecting automobile owners who do not have insurance (S Judiciary; Tue, May 8).
1. H8056: Foundation for a single-payer health insurance system in Rhode Island (H Finance; Wed, May 9), containing such intriguing phrases as…
- “EOHHS [The executive office of health and human services] shall maintain enrollment and expenditures to ensure that expenditures do not exceed amounts available in the fund, and if sufficient funds are not available to cover the estimated cost of program expenditures, EOHHS shall institute appropriate measures to reduce costs”,
- “EOHHS is authorized to seek appropriations from the general fund in the form of loans to the healthy Rhode Island program trust fund”, and
- “In the event that EOHHS reasonably expects that the cost of healthy Rhode Island program will exceed the available funds, coverage for eligible individuals shall continue until the annual redetermination of each eligible individual, after which time EOHHS shall immediately transfer the eligible individual to coverage in the state’s health insurance exchange.” (i.e. when this program proves too expensive to manage, we’ll transfer people to a magic exchange where magic money will appear to pay their costs).