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Under the Dome New Law 2021 Wrap Up

Labor Laws

Senate Bill No. 1  as amended  Chapter 016,  Quezada, Ruggerio, McCaffrey, Goodwin, Cano, Miller, Gallo, Goldin, Valverde, Seveney,; and House Bill No. 5130  SUB A Chapter 015, Bennett, Williams, Solomon, Ranglin-Vassell, ACTS RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- MINIMUM WAGES, increase the minimum wage from $11.50 per hour to $12.25 January 1, 2022; $13.00 January 1, 2023; $14.00 January 1, 2024; and $15.00 January 1, 2025.

Senate Bill No. 270  SUB A  Chapter 168, Goldin, Ruggerio, Gallo, Coyne, Goodwin, Valverde, Mendes, DiMario, Mack, Miller and House Bill No. 5261  SUB A

Chapter 169, Donovan, Williams, Alzate, Blazejewski, Speakman, ACTS RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- FAIR EMPLOYMENT PRACTICES, also known as the “pay equity” law, comprehensively addresses wage discrimination.  This new law takes effect on January 1, 2023.  A detailed summary will be forthcoming soon.

Senate Bill No. 273  SUB A  Chapter 173, F Lombardi, Lombardo, Felag, de la Cruz, E Morgan and House Bill No. 5585  SUB A  Chapter 172, Amore, J Lombardi, Potter, Giraldo, Alzate, Morales, ACTS RELATING TO HOLIDAYS AND DAYS OF SPECIAL OBSERVANCE -- WORK ON HOLIDAYS AND SUNDAYS, rescinds the director of the Department of Labor and Training’s authority to exempt certain classes of employees from receiving overtime pay for Sunday and holiday work.  Exemptions granted prior to July 1, 2021, remain in full force and effect.

Senate Bill No. 297  SUB A  Chapter 188, Lombardo, Ciccone, Picard, Gallo, Sosnowski, Archambault and House Bill No. 5856  SUB A Chapter 189, Hawkins, Costantino, BiahACTS RELATING TO PUBLIC PROPERTY AND WORKS -- LABOR AND PAYMENT OF DEBTS BY CONTRACTORS, relieve regulatory burdens by allowing contractors to submit certified payroll using federal forms for all public works projects or to provide actual payroll records. This law is now in effect.

Senate Bill No. 434  SUB A  Chapter 151, Goodwin, McCaffrey and House Bill No. 6011  SUB A  Chapter 153, Batista, S RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- HEALTHY AND SAFE FAMILIES AND WORKPLACE ACT, grants paid sick leave and safe leave benefits to construction employees who work under multi-employer collective bargaining agreements, provided that certain conditions are met.  The new law takes effect immediately.

Senate Bill No. 688  SUB A  Chapter 179, Lawson, Lombardo, Seveney, Quezada, Miller, Sosnowski, Cano, Pearson, Euer, Burke and House Bill No. 6090  SUB A

Chapter 178, Kazarian, ACTS RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- TEMPORARY DISABILITY INSURANCE – BENEFITS, increase temporary caregiver benefits to 5 weeks in a benefit year starting January 1, 2022 and increase temporary caregiver benefits to 6 weeks in a benefit year beginning January 1, 2023.

Senate Bill No. 550  Chapter 393 Kallman, DiMario, Euer, Acosta, Ciccone, Seveney, Mack, Coyne, Miller, Quezada and House Bill No. 5855  Chapter 394, Morales, Alzate, Kazarian, Ranglin-Vassell, Felix, Batista, J Lombardi, PotterACTS RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- THE RHODE ISLAND WHISTLE BLOWERS' PROTECTION ACT, prohibit an employer from reporting (or threatening to report) the immigration status of an employee, prospective employee, applicant or independent contractor.  A notice of this law must be posted in a prominent location in all languages known to be spoken by employees.  Damages for violating the law is injunctive relief, treble damages or both.  A civil action can be brought within three years of the violation. This new law is in effect now.

Senate Bill No. 808  F Lombardi, Ciccone, Raptakis, Lombardo, Archambault, Picard, and House Bill No. 6218  Fenton-Fung, ACTS RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- EMPLOYMENT SECURITY -- BENEFITS -- RHODE ISLAND BACK TO WORK INCENTIVE PROGRAM, provide incentive benefits for persons collecting unemployment benefits who return to work in the amount of $150 per week for 13 weeks based on a 40-hour workweek (with prorated benefits for persons working less than 40 hours). Upon completion of the 13-week period, additional compensation up to a maximum of $1,950 would be paid on a prorated basis.  These benefits expire on January 1, 2022.

Senate Bill No. 858  as amended  Chapter 017, Goodwin, Ciccone, Ruggerio, and House Bill No. 6249  SUB A  Chapter 018, McEntee, Carson, Felix, Cortvriend, Phillips, Costantino, Giraldo, Fogarty, Caldwell, Kazarian, ACTS RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- EMPLOYMENT SECURITY -- GENERAL PROVISIONS, increase partial unemployment benefits.  For weeks starting May 23, 2021, and continuing through June 30, 2022, an employee would be deemed “partially unemployed” in any week of less than full-time work if they fail to earn wages for that week in an amount equal to or greater than 150% of the weekly benefit rate for total unemployment to which they would be entitled if totally unemployed and eligible.  This is meant to serve as an incentive for employees to return to work.

Senate Bill No. 937  SUB A  Chapter 402, Ciccone, F Lombardi, McCaffrey and House Bill No. 6376  SUB A  Chapter 403, WilliamsACTS RELATING TO LABOR AND LABOR RELATIONS -- WORKERS COMPENSATION – BENEFITS, create a new formula for determining a totally and partially disabled injured workers' weekly benefit entitlement. For injuries sustained after January 1, 2022, rendering the person partially incapacitated, the person will receive 62% (instead of 75%) of the difference between his or her average weekly base wages, earnings, or salary before the injury as computing, and his or her weekly wages, earnings, salary, or earnings capacity after that, but not more than the maximum weekly compensation rate for total incapacity as set forth in § 28-33-17. For all injuries on or before December 31, 2021, while the incapacity for work resulting from the injury is partial, the employer shall pay the injured employee a weekly compensation equal to 75% of the difference between his or her spendable average weekly base wages, earnings, or salary before the injury, and his or her spendable weekly wages, earnings, salary, or earnings capacity after that, but not more than the maximum weekly compensation rate for total incapacity, as set forth in § 28-33-17.  The bills also eliminate the current ambiguity in an injured workers' entitlement, when the person suffers a recurrence of disability.  These bills were put forward by the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council which is comprised of labor and business members.

Environmental Laws

Senate Bill No. 78  SUB A  Chapter 001, Euer, Ruggerio, McCaffrey, Goodwin, Sosnowski, Coyne, Cano, Murray, Valverde, Kallman and House Bill No. 5445  SUB A  Chapter 002, Carson, Cortvriend, Blazejewski, Kazarian, Ruggiero, Donovan, Speakman, Knight, McEntee, Alzate, ACTS RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT -- 2021 ACT ON CLIMATE, speed up the reduction of greenhouse gas emission targets to 45% reduction over 1990 levels by 2030, 80% reduction over 1990 levels by 2040 and net zero emissions by 2050.  The new law allows the Rhode Island Executive Climate Change Coordinating Council (EC4) to require agencies to promulgate rules necessary to reach the targets.

Senate Bill No. 155  SUB A  Chapter 202,  McCaffrey, Goodwin, Ruggerio, Miller, Euer, Kallman, Lombardo, Valverde, DiMario, DiPalma and House Bill No. 5131  SUB A  Chapter 203, Bennett, ACTS RELATING TO FOOD AND DRUGS -- SINGLE-USE PLASTIC STRAWS, prohibit a food service establishment from providing a consumer with a single-use plastic straw unless the consumer requests such a straw.  The penalty for a first and second violation is a notice of violation.  Subsequent violations are subject to a $25 fine up to $300 annually.  This new law takes effect on January 1, 2022.

Health Insurance Related Laws

A number of health insurance mandates were passed into law in 2021. Rhode Island has a high number of health care mandates which affects insurance premium costs.  The following is a list of new items that must be covered or changed.

Senate Bill No. 3  SUB A Chapter 089, Sosnowski, McCaffrey, Goodwin, Gallo, Felag, Coyne, Lawson, Cano, Acosta, DiPalma and House Bill No. 5763  Chapter 088, Kazarian, Kislak, Fogarty, Alzate, Potter, Casimiro, Henries, Handy, Felix, McGaw,  ACTS RELATING TO INSURANCE -- ACCIDENT AND SICKNESS INSURANCE POLICIES, prohibit health insurance companies from varying the premium rates charged for a health coverage plan based on the gender of the individual policyholder, enrollee, subscriber, or member.  This new law takes effect on January 1, 2023.

Senate Bill No. 4  SUB B as amended  Chapter 184, Miller, Goldin, Valverde, Goodwin, Felag, Coyne, Burke, Cano, Seveney, Lawson and House Bill No. 6032  SUB A as amended  Chapter 199, Casey, Kazarian, Filippi, Edwards, Kennedy, Kislak, Cassar, C Lima, Solomon, Fogarty, ACTS RELATING TO INSURANCE -- THE TELEMEDICINE COVERAGE ACT, require insurers to cover medically necessary and clinically appropriate services provided through audio, video, remote monitoring or other online adaptive interviews.  Telemedicine does not include email messaging or fax transmissions.  In-network primary care providers, registered dietitian nutritionists, and behavioral health providers must be reimbursed at rates not lower than services delivered by the same provider through in-person methods.  Prior authorizations must be no more stringent than those required for in-person appointments.  Dentists providing telemedicine are subject to the same standard of care that would apply to the procedure in an in-person setting.  The law takes effect immediately.

Senate Bill No. 170  SUB B  Chapter 163, Murray, McCaffrey, Miller, Goodwin, Mack, Lawson, Kallman, Bell, Valverde, Goldin, and House Bill No. 5196  SUB A as amended  Chapter 110, Kennedy, Azzinaro, Bennett, Vella-Wilkinson, Solomon, Diaz, Morales, ACTS RELATING TO INSURANCE -- PRESCRIPTION DRUG BENEFITS, limit health insurance carriers that provide coverage for prescription insulin drugs used to treat diabetes to $40 for a copayment for a 30 day supply of medically necessary insulin.

Senate Bill No. 383  as amended  Chapter 007, Goodwin, Ruggerio, McCaffrey, Miller, Coyne, and House Bill No. 5432  SUB A  Chapter 008, Ackerman, Chippendale, Hawkins, Baginski, McNamara, ACTS RELATING TO INSURANCE -- ACCIDENT AND SICKNESS INSURANCE POLICIES -- THE MARYELLEN GOODWIN COLORECTAL CANCER SCREENING ACT, require insurance coverage for prostate/colon cancer screening.

Senate Bill No. 877  SUB A  Chapter 161, DiMario, Valverde, Sosnowski, Acosta, Lawson, Mendes, Anderson, Kallman and House Bill No. 6208  SUB A  Chapter 145, Morales, Williams, Kazarian, Potter, Nardone, McGaw, Solomon, Hull, Kislak, Caldwell, ACTS RELATING TO INSURANCE, prohibit insurance carriers from charging out-of-pocket expenses to the insured for expenses related to the COVID-19 pandemic and mandates that all COVID-19 testing or vaccination is free.

General Business or Industry Specific Laws

Senate Bill No. 133  SUB A  Chapter 143, Coyne, Seveney, DiMario, Murray, DiPalma, Euer and House Bill No. 6237  SUB A  Chapter 144, Knight, Kislak, Newberry, Batista, Felix, McEntee, ACTS RELATING TO COURTS AND CIVIL PROCEDURE -- SMALL CLAIMS AND CONSUMER CLAIMS -- PROCEDURE IN PARTICULAR ACTIONS, increase the maximum amount to be recovered in civil court action as small claims from $2,500 to $5,000.  This new threshold is effective immediately.

Senate Bill No. 198  SUB A  Chapter 120, Raptakis, Murray, Felag, E Morgan, Lawson and House Bill No. 6409  Chapter 119, Azzinaro, Casey, McLaughlin, Knight, Serpa, Fellela, Vella-Wilkinson, Kennedy, ACTS RELATING TO MOTOR AND OTHER VEHICLES -- REGISTRATION OF VEHICLES, allow business vehicles which are owned by an entity which a veteran owns, and is registered and authorized to conduct business in Rhode Island, to register the business vehicles with veteran plates.  The law takes effect immediately.

Senate Bill No. 264  SUB A  Chapter 074, Coyne, Sosnowski, Valverde, Burke, Seveney, Euer and House Bill No. 5642  SUB A  Chapter 073, Solomon, ACTS RELATING TO FINANCIAL INSTITUTIONS -- THE ELDER ADULT FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION PREVENTION ACT, require employees of regulated financial institutions to report suspected financial exploitation of elder adults to the institution which, in turn, must assess the situation and notify the Office of Healthy Aging within 2 days if the institution believes exploitation may have occurred.  The new law provides authority to the regulated financial institution to place a temporary hold on transactions.  The new law takes effect immediately.

Senate Bill No. 268  SUB A  Chapter 157, Sosnowski, Lombardo, Picard, Seveney, Gallo, and House Bill No. 5768  SUB A  Chapter 152, McEntee, Craven, Cardillo ACTS RELATING TO BUSINESS AND PROFESSIONS -- ROOFING CONTRACTORS, amend the registration and licensure requirements of roofing contractors.  The new law takes effect immediately.

Senate Bill No. 555  SUB A as amended  Chapter 129, Gallo, Euer and House Bill No. 5105  SUB B  Chapter 130, Baginski, Noret, CasimiroACTS RELATING TO ALCOHOLIC BEVERAGES - RETAIL LICENSES, authorize a holder of a Class B liquor license to sell alcoholic beverages with take-out food orders. The law sunsets on 3/1/2022.

Senate Bill No. 580  Chapter 295, Picard and House Bill No. 6039  Chapter 294, Cardillo, Hull, Solomon, Hawkins, Noret, Kazarian, Potter, Costantino, Vella-Wilkinson, WilliamsACTS RELATING TO TAXATION -- PROPERTY SUBJECT TO TAXATION, extend the manufacturing machinery and equipment exemption by eliminating the requirement the machinery and equipment be new and that it must be purchased after December 31, 1974. To qualify, the equipment now needs only be acquired or used by a manufacturer after December 31, 1974.  This change is now in effect.

Senate Bill No. 654  SUB A  Chapter 333  DiMario, Valverde, Kallman, Raptakis, Murray, Pearson, Quezada, Mendes and House Bill No. 6119  SUB B  Chapter 332  McEntee, Costantino, Caldwell, Cortvriend, Phillips, Carson, Cassar, Giraldo, Casimiro, Slater, ACTS RELATING TO TOWNS AND CITIES -- SMALL BUSINESSES -- ZONING ORDINANCES, impose a moratorium on enforcement of a municipal ordinance or a zoning requirement that penalizes owners of foodservice establishments/bars for modifications/alternations to their premises in response to an emergency declaration.  This is meant to allow restaurants to continue to “take it outside.”  The moratorium remains in effect until April 1, 2022.

Senate Bill No. 684  SUB A  Chapter 206, (Attorney General) Archambault, Lombardo, Sosnowski, Coyne and House Bill No. 6142  SUB A Chapter 329, (Attorney General) C Lima, Phillips, Carson, Caldwell, Serpa, Fellela, Fenton-Fung, CaseyACTS RELATING TO COMMERCIAL LAW -- GENERAL REGULATORY PROVISIONS -- DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICES, expand the Attorney General’s authority to bring charges of deceptive trade practices against any business, unless the business can show that its activities are subject to regulation by a state or federal agency and the activity is in compliance with orders, including insurance bulletins, or rules of a statute administered by a federal or state government agency.  Prior to the passage of this law, the AG could not bring an action against a business if it was deemed to be regulated by a state or federal agency, even if the “regulated” activity was only a granting of a license.  This law takes effect immediately.

Senate Bill No. 686  SUB A as amended  Chapter 187, Felag and House Bill No. 5437  SUB A as amended  Chapter 186, Edwards, ACTS RELATING TO BUSINESSES AND PROFESSIONS – ELECTRICIANS, allow 288 hours of trade school training to qualify for the journeyperson "B" electrical exam. The law also increases the period of indentured apprenticeship with the Department of Labor and Training and a licensed electrician master to 4 years.

Senate Bill No. 718  SUB A  Chapter 210, McCaffrey and House Bill No. 5573  SUB A  Chapter 323, NoretACTS RELATING TO PROPERTY -- RESIDENTIAL LANDLORD AND TENANT ACT, require a landlord to obtain and have in full force and effect a general liability policy of at least $100,000 to compensate persons injured on the premises due to the negligence of the landlord.

Senate Bill No. 736  SUB A  Chapter 387, Archambault, McCaffrey and House Bill No. 5867  SUB A  Chapter 388, Craven, ACTS RELATING TO COURTS AND CIVIL PROCEDURE -- PROCEDURE GENERALLY -- CAUSES OF ACTION, eliminated the complete defense to product liability for manufacturers or sellers of a product that was subsequently altered by a purchaser. The remedy is now covered under a comparative negligence standard.  If the alteration is deemed to have caused 40% of the injury, then the manufacturer or seller would pay 60% of the damages.

Senate Bill No. 770  DiPalma and House Bill No. 6055 Barros, ACTS RELATING TO COMMERCIAL LAW -- GENERAL REGULATORY PROVISIONS -- DECEPTIVE TRADE PRACTICES, create a law designed to limit in-application payments for software applications and purchases.  A proprietor of a digital application distribution platform for which cumulative gross receipts from sales on the digital application distribution platform to residents of Rhode Island exceed $10,000,000 in the previous or current calendar year may not: (1) Require a developer to use a digital application distribution platform or digital transaction platform as the exclusive mode of distributing a digital product, (2) Require a developer to use an in-application payment system as the exclusive mode of accepting payment from a user to download a software application or purchase a digital or physical product through a software application., or (3) Retaliate against a developer for choosing to use an alternative application store or in-application payment system.  The new law is now in effect.

Senate Bill No. 789  SUB A  Chapter 137, (Secretary of State) Archambault, Pearson and House Bill No. 5984  SUB A  Chapter 138, (Secretary of State) Shallcross Smith, ACTS RELATING TO CORPORATIONS, ASSOCIATIONS AND PARTNERSHIPS -- RHODE ISLAND BUSINESS CORPORATION ACT, require annual reports of domestic and foreign business corporations, nonprofit corporations, and limited liability companies be filed with the secretary of state between February 1 and May 1 of each year. The effective date is January 1, 2022.

Senate Bill No. 981 Chapter 303, Picard and House Bill No. 6446  Chapter 302, ShekarchiACTS RELATING TO HEALTH AND SAFETY -- STATE BUILDING CODE, establishes E-permitting for construction permitting.

House Bill No. 5214  SUB A  Chapter 309, Phillips, Caldwell, Serpa, Hawkins, S LimaAN ACT RELATING TO TAXATION -- SALES AND USE TAXES -- ENFORCEMENT AND COLLECTION, eliminate the ten dollars ($10.00) fee requirement for the sales tax permit.