We are now in the third month of the 2023 General Assembly (GA) session, and finally the GA is in full speed. To date, almost 1600 pieces of legislation and resolutions have been introduced, and we are told to expect more than 1000 additional bills. If so, we will be reviewing many bills and taking bill positions for probably the next week or two. As usual, there are more bills of concern than to support. Many are familiar with issues such as wage theft, employee misclassification, minimum wage, taxes, workers compensation, and so on. However, so much more focus is now being placed on environmental issues and on increasing costs including taxes and earmarking the added revenue for different programs.
Recently, legislation was introduced (H-5159) entitled “An Act Relating to Motor and Other Vehicles – Parking Facilities and Privileges.” This bill would require large employees (defined as having 100 plus employees at a location) to install the necessary equipment (Level 2 or DC fast charges) to support auto charges in both new and existing parking undergoing a 50% plus parking expansion. The mandate also applies to big box stores, grocery stores, hotels, and housing developments with 20 or more units. Not factored in is the cost of compliance especially for “affordable housing.” For example, electrical conduits may have to be upgraded. The cost could be as much as $45,000 – $50,000 per port for a fast charging station. A DC fast charging unit costs between $28,000 – $140,000. Your Association realizes that electric vehicles are the future and encourages voluntary, but not a blanket mandate, for installation of electric vehicle chargers. While there are exceptions allowed, financial burden cannot be considered
Another not well thought out piece of legislation if H-5600 entitled “An Act Relating to Public Property and Works – All Electric Building Act.” If enacted , cities and towns would be prohibited from issuing building permits to new commercial, mixed use and residential units unless the building is all-electric ready. The bill includes exemptions such as for medical facilities, biological research labs, “restaurants” and some other exemptions. However, financial burden is again not permitted to be considered. In addition, the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) would be required to submit a report with recommendations for policies and to ensure electricity costs for residential consumers does not exceed 6% of a consumer’s income. This could infer that the financial burden of this mandate would shift from residential to industrial and commercial customers.
Recently, both (H-5990) and Senate (S-145) Labor Committees heard testimony on expanding the Rhode Island Parental and Family Leave Act (applies to employers with 50 or more employees). These identical bills would expand the number of weeks of parental or family leave from 13 weeks to 24 weeks in any two calendar years. Employers who provide paid leave would not be required to provide paid leave for the additional 13 weeks but would have to rehire the employee upon return to work. This bill is effective “upon passage.”