Last month, Rhode Island’s General Assembly adjourned for 2022. Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the legislative session has finally returned to a familiar pace and structure. In contrast, the continued flow of federal funds into state coffers has allowed the General Assembly to work without the traditional pressures stemming from budget deficits. Below is a brief overview of important laws that passed or failed to pass in the 2022 session that may be of interest to you and your business.
H 7123 Sub Aaa— As part of the budget, the General Assembly made a key injection of $100 million into the Unemployment Trust Fund. With the Fund’s value having fallen to less than $200 million in total in recent months, this replenishment will effectively reduce the unemployment tax rate imposed on employers.
S 2775— This law has not been adopted. As drafted, the bill would have attached criminal penalty penalties to an employer’s failure to pay wages on time, upon termination, or to the intentional misclassification of an employee as a independent contractor.
S 2345—Companies with “large” parking lots (100 or more) will now be required to designate dedicated parking spaces for cars carrying children under the age of three. These spaces are intended to allow families a dedicated secure area when entering or exiting their vehicle with young children. Certain exemptions apply, including industrial areas, single-family homes and multi-family residences.
H7440— This law has not been adopted. As written, the proposed bill would have added a new income tax bracket, at a rate of 8.99% for those with taxable income above approximately $500,000.
H7510—Following the passage of this law, employers can no longer withhold any portion of an employee’s tips, except for credit card charges associated with card tips.
S 2430 Sub A—The passage of the Cannabis Act will legalize the possession and use of up to one ounce of marijuana by adults over the age of 21, 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 year in a row, the General Assembly has appropriated funds for the historic tax credit program, this time with an allocation of $28 million. This program helps encourage private investment, which results 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 enters its second year, by permanently allowing Class B liquor licensees and breweries to sell wine, beer and mixed drinks with takeout orders.
H 8220 Sub A“This legislation prevents real estate on which renewable energy resources are located from being reclassified, reassessed or reassessed due to energy production. An exception is agricultural land, which can only be reclassified if more than 20% of the total agricultural land area is converted for use as a renewable energy system. Lands designated as dual-use will not be included in this calculation.
H8346—This legislation changes credit bureau disclosure practices in relation to applicants’ requests for credit reports. A credit bureau may release a credit report to a third party only if the name and social security number on the report matches the identity of the person being investigated.
As with any new legislation affecting business and employment practices, it is important to review all long-standing policies to ensure compliance with new laws and to best position your business for success.
Thanks to Stephan Maranian, Summer Partner 2022, for his important contributions to this Legislative Summary.