There were several pieces of legislation introduced to dramatically increase the minimum wage.
However, due to the strong lobbying efforts of RIHA and other groups, none of this legislation moved forward.
Elimination of the tipped wage - Defeated
Due to the advocacy efforts of RIHA, none of the proposals to increase and eliminate the tipped minimum wage moved forward this year. Several servers from local businesses came to the State House to testify against the proposal, telling lawmakers that the elimination of the tipped wage would actually result in a substantial pay cut for them.
Medicaid Assessment - Defeated
RIHA, along with a coalition of other business groups, worked to defeat a proposal in the Governor's budget to implement a tax of up to $1,500 per employee that are on Medicaid. The proposal did not exempt part time workers.
Under 21 Legislation - Passed
The General Assembly approved legislation that will allow Class B liquor licenses to prohibit people under the age of 21 from entering the business after 10:00 p.m. The legislation now goes to the Governor for her signature.
This legislation was introduced as a result of a conflict in law, where Class B licenses are told by the police that they cannot admit anyone under the age of 21 into their establishments at all, but it is also considered discriminatory to ban someone based on their age.
Fake Service Animals - Passed
Legislation that would ban the misrepresentation of service animals passed the General Assembly. Introduced on behalf of RIHA, this legislation defines service animals as dogs that have been or are being specifically trained to assist an individual with a disability, including guide dogs and hearing dogs. The bill makes it a civil infraction to misrepresent an animal as a service animal to gain a privilege reserved for them and makes violations punishable by up to thirty hours of community service for an organization that serves disabled people.
Food Donation Liability Expansion - Passed
Donating food just got easier with the final passage of a bill that expands protections for businesses, farmers and schools donating wholesome food.
RI joins CA with one of the most forward-thinking laws in the country.
Hotel Tax - Defeated
RIHA defeated three attempts to increase the state and local hotel tax. The Governor's original budget proposal requested a 1% increase in the state hotel tax, with the revenue going into the General Fund. Although this proposal was not included in the final budget, a small group of legislators tried to increase the state hotel tax by .5% to fund a housing program. This was also defeated.
The City of Newport requested that the local hotel tax be increased by 1% as well, but this was never introduced.
RIHA worked with coalition of groups, including the local tourism regions, to defeat this legislation.
Minimum Wage Increases - Defeated
There were several pieces of legislation introduced to dramatically increase the minimum wage. However, due to the strong lobbying efforts of RIHA and other groups, none of this legislation moved forward.
Increase in the overtime salary threshold - Defeated
The legislation that would have increased the overtime salary threshold from $413/week to $1,036/week did not pass out of the House or Senate Labor Committees.
RIHA testified against the legislation, stating that this proposed increase was over $100 more than what was proposed by USDOL in 2016 and was later delayed by a federal Court for being too aggressive.
Meals Tax - Defeated
Legislation that would allow Middletown and Newport to increase the Meals & Beverage tax to 2% failed in both the House and the Senate.
RIHA argued that this tax would be on the shoulders of Rhode Island residents and harm one of the largest industries in the State.
After a multi-year effort from RIHA, the General Assembly extended the Food Safety Manager's license from three years to five years. The Governor signed the legislation, part of the FY19 Budget, into law on June 20, 2018.
Mandated Paid Leave ‐ Compromise
After months of negotiation between RIHA and other stakeholders, the General Assembly approved legislation that will require companies to give employees paid sick leave.
Although RIHA is generally opposed to mandates that impact the employer-employee relationship, we believe that if a paid sick leave policy is to be implemented in Rhode Island, the final legislation version of the legislation addresses many of the concerns voiced by the hospitality industry. It is important to note how far this legislation has come from the original bill. As originally introduced, the legislation would have been the most extreme paid leave mandate in the country and would have impacted every single employer in the state – even those who already have generous paid leave policies. RIHA was a leading voice in the RI Business Coalition’s work on this legislation and played a key role in the negotiations surrounding the legislation.
Minimum Wage - Compromise
From the beginning of the 2017 legislative session, the Governor, Speaker and Senate President made it clear that there would be a minimum wage increase in 2018.
RIHA asked that any increase be spread out over several years, to ensure that businesses had a predictable business model and were able to plan for the increases. The House and Senate agreed to this compromise. The minimum wage will increase to $10.10 on January 1, 2018 and $10.50 on January 1, 2019.
Tipped Wage Increase/Elimination ‐ Defeated
Several pieces of legislation would have increased and/or eliminated the tipped wage. Due to RIHA’s strong advocacy efforts, the General Assembly did not move the legislation forward.
Wage Liens ‐ Defeated
The legislation that would allow employees to file a lien against a business for unpaid wages with no showing of cause did not pass the House, although it did pass the Senate.
Mandated Paid Leave ‐ DEFEATED
Legislation would have required employers to provide paid sick and safety leave time up to a maximum of fifty‐six hours a year.
RIHA led a business‐backed coalition against this legislation, citing the administrative burdens to small businesses and the vague and overly broad language of the legislation.
Minimum Wage ‐ DEFEATED
H7285/S2389 would raise the minimum wage to $10.50 in 2017 and $11.00 in 2018. Article 13 of the Governor's budget would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 in 2017. RIHA testified that businesses need time to adjust to the four previous minimum wage increases before the state implements another one.
Scheduling Mandate ‐ WITHDRAWN BY SPONSOR
H7515/H7634 would have required employers to give out a written schedule 14 days in advance to all employees. If an employee had to change that schedule, the employer would face costly penalties. Due to the strong opposition of RIHA and other business groups, this legislation was withdrawn by the sponsors.