State Legislative Updates

2024 Republican State of the State Response

House Minority Leader Mike Chippendale delivered this response to the Governor's State of the State Address on January 16, 2024.

Some of the 2024 Bills We Support

House Bill 7675 

The sunset bill for the Rhode Island meal and beverage tax, sponsored by Representative Brian Rea (District 53, Glocester/Smithfield), implements incremental decreases to the tax rate until it is eliminated, giving municipalities time to adjust to the reduction in revenues. The bill authorizes an annual 0.25% reduction of the local meals and beverage tax effective January 1, 2025; ending January 1, 2029. The impact inflation is having on full service meal prices, compounded with the state’s meal and beverage tax, may be a disincentive to patrons from dining out—this on top of the recent transportation hurdles Rhode Islanders are facing with the Washington Bridge closure. These circumstances are hurting businesses as well as local economies. 

House Bill 7622

This act would require the department of health (DOH) and the executive office of health and human services (EOHHS) to collaborate with community health centers, specifically to establish new programs designed to attract federal funds, with a focus on Medicaid funding and the utilization of Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education programs.

House Bill 7392

This act would create a new additional post-election risk-limiting audit of voted mail ballots, focusing on voter signature verification. This act would take effect upon passage.

House Bill 7429

This is an act relating to public utilities and carriers, the Ratepayers Advisory Board of the Public Utilities Commssion. It would change the requirements of quarterly meetings of the board to monthly meetings. The chairperson of the board would be the commissioner or acting commissioner of the office of energy resources.

House Bill 7763

In response to inconsistent and less than timely responses for public information from the State of Rhode Island, House Representative Brian C. Newberry submitted legislation to update and reform the Access to Public Records Act (APRA). The legislation will:

- Centralize all APRA records request handling and management, compliance, training, and agency education, for agencies which report to the Governor and all quasi-public agencies, within the Department of Administration;

- Encourage DOA to make all reasonable efforts to post records which would be public under APRA in an online, searchable database and/or website, to prevent those records from having to be requested in the first place;

- Require all records that are not emails, text messages, police reports, or police body worn camera footage, to be provided at no cost to the records requester, unless DOA determines a cost is required to fulfill the request; the requester can appeal the cost estimate to the Attorney General's office, and this shall follow the appeal procedures currently laid out in the APRA law. There will be a presumption that any request cost in excess of $500 shall be deemed excessive unless the agency can demonstrate an actual cost of that amount;

- Notwithstanding the foregoing, all records are to be provided electronically, to the extent possible, and at no cost, other than the cost of labor, unless the requester specifically requests paper copies of records. Further, DOA shall make all efforts to use the resources available to it in existing budgetary authority, including public information officers and other communications personnel at state agencies, to fulfill records requests at no additional labor cost to requesters;

- DOA will provide a uniform set of fees to be applied across all state agencies and quasi-public agencies for fulfilling APRA requests.

House Bill 7814

Leader Michael Chippendale submitted legislation to revisit the 2021 Act on Climate. The ambitious targets set are turning out to be not only unreachable but also excessively costly for our state's ratepayers. The minor adjustments proposed in this bill still honor these objectives, but introduce practical measures to shield Rhode Islanders from the devastating financial impacts we’re already seeing.

House Bill 7810

PUC Study on Electrification: This act would require the public utilities commission (PUC) to produce a report by January 1, 2025, and each January 1 thereafter, on the ability of the current electric grid to handle the electrification load needed to power cars, buildings, and heating of homes within the state and provide the report to the speaker of the house, the senate president and the governor.

House Bill 7683

Real Estate Conveyance Tax: Imposes a conveyance tax on purchasers, of single-family residential properties, who are for-profit entities with over $15,000,000 in assets, at a rate of $6.90/$500, to be collected for housing production fund established in § 42-128-2.1.

House Bill 7778

This act would expand the duties of the small business ombudsman, by also having the ombudsman serve as the Rhode Island commerce corporation's small business advocate.

House Bill 7563

This act would establish the organic farming and certification program to be administered by the department of environmental management.

House Bill 7673

Establishes the first time home buyer savings program act. Allows modifications to federal adjusted gross income for $50,000 in contributions and $150,000 of interest and dividends included in federal adjusted gross income.

House Bill 7680

Estate Tax Reform: This act would phase in an annual increase of the net taxable estate exemption by ten percent (10%) per year until the state exemption equals the federal exemption.

Senate Bill 2348

Establishes the Office of Inspector General as an independent, administrative agency charged with the responsibility to investigate, detect, and prevent fraud,

waste, abuse, and mismanagement in the expenditure of public funds.

Senate Bill 2049

This act would reduce the sales tax rate to five percent (5%).