Last month, the Rhode Island General Assembly adjourned for 2022. Two years removed from the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislative session finally returned to a familiar pace and structure. In contrast, the ongoing flow of federal funds into state coffers has allowed the General Assembly to work without the traditional pressures stemming from budget shortfalls. Below is a brief overview of noteworthy legislation that was passed, or did not pass, in the 2022 session that may be of interest to you and your business.
H 7123 Sub Aaa—Within the budget, the General Assembly made a key $100 million infusion into the Unemployment Trust Fund. With the value of the Fund having declined to under $200 million total in recent months, this replenishment will effectively reduce the unemployment tax rate imposed upon employers.
S 2775—This legislation did not pass. As written, the proposed legislation would have attached felony criminal penalties to an employer’s failure to pay wages on time, at the time of termination, or for the intentional misclassification of an employee as an independent contractor.
S 2345—Businesses with “large” parking lots (100 or more) will now be required to designate parking spots dedicated to cars transporting children under the age of three. These spaces are intended to allow families a dedicated safe area when entering or exiting their vehicle with small children. Some exemptions apply, including industrial zones, single-family homes and multi-family residences.
H 7440—This legislation did not pass. As written, the proposed bill would have added a new income tax bracket, at a rate of 8.99% for those with taxable income over approximately $500,000.
H 7510—Following passage of this legislation, employers are now prevented from keeping any portion of an employee’s tips, with an exception for credit card charges associated with card-based tips.
S 2430 Sub A—Passage of the Cannabis Act will legalize the possession and use of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults over 21 years of age, with regulated sales beginning in December 2022. This is a comprehensive bill, and Rhode Island businesses and employers should review their existing employee handbooks and related policies.
H 7123 Sub Aaa—For the second straight year the General Assembly directed funds into the Historic Tax Credit program, this time with a $28 million allocation. This program helps incentivize private investment, resulting in efficient use of historic spaces and increased property values.
S 2153aa—This legislation supports Rhode Island’s restaurant industry, as the COVID-19 pandemic stretches into its second year, by permanently allowing Class B liquor license holders and brewpubs to sell wine, beer, and mixed drinks with takeout food orders.
H 8220 Sub A—This legislation prevents real property on which renewable energy resources are located from being reclassified, revalued, or reassessed due to energy production. An exception is farmland, which may only be reclassified if more than 20% of the total acreage of farmland is converted for use as a renewable energy system. Land designated for dual use will not be included in this calculation.
H 8346—This legislation amends credit bureau disclosure practices in connection with requests for credit reports by applicants. A credit bureau may disclose a credit report to a third party only if the name and social security number listed in the report matches the identity of the person who is the subject of the inquiry.
As with any new legislation effecting business and employment practices, it is important to review any longstanding policies to ensure compliance with new laws and to best position your business for success. Readers are encouraged to contact Kyle Lynch at email@example.com or 401.427.6148 for a more detailed discussion or review.
Thanks to Stephan Maranian, 2022 Summer Associate, for his significant contributions to this legislative summary.