2018 GENERAL ASSEMBLY SESSION RECAP
The Rhode Island General Assembly recessed their 2018 session on Sunday, June 24th shortly after midnight. The two big issues of the 2018 session – the PawSox stadium-financing plan and the $9.6 billion FY19 state budget had already passed days prior to the final night.
Throughout the 2018 legislative session, no other issue garnered as much attention as the PawSox stadium-financing legislation. Even after a series of public Senate hearings conducted around the State, the House and Senate could never finally agree on a bill. Ultimately, even with a finance bill passed by the House in the final days, the PawSox will be moving to Worcester pending all necessary approvals by the City of Worcester.
As in previous years, the most significant bill enacted was the state budget legislation: H 7200 Sub A As Amended. Signed by Governor Gina Raimondo on June 22nd the bill increased funding by $316 million to $9.6 billion. Among some of the noteworthy provisions in the state budget legislation are the following:
- Authorized a five-year plan to implement sports betting—operated by IGT, a gaming company—at two casinos owned by Twin River. The state will collect 51 percent of revenue, IGT would receive 32 percent, and Twin River 17 percent. The provision was projected to raise $23.5 million in fiscal year 2019.
- Approved a ballot measure asking voters to approve $367.3 million in bonds. About $250 million would finance the first phase of a $1 billion school reconstruction plan, $70 million would go towards higher education initiatives at the University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College, and $47.3 million would go toward environment, recreation, and water infrastructure projects.
- Raised the fee for medical marijuana licenses from $5,000 to $250,000.
• Increased Medicaid payments to 59 nursing homes by 2.5 percent in exchange for dropping a lawsuit against the state. Lawmakers estimated the increase would cost $9 million.
- Continued the phase out of excise tax on automobiles.
Aside from the budget legislation, other noteworthy bills passed by the General Assembly in 2018 include the following:
Mobile food truck registration: Provides for the consolidation of food truck registration within the department of business regulation to streamline the registration process and reduce the burden on small businesses.
Post mastectomy reconstructive surgery coverage: Requires individual or group policy insurance to cover mastectomies.
Influenza immunizations for 65+: Requires hospitals to offer flu vaccinations to all inpatient individuals sixty-five (65) years of age or older unless the person has a condition that would not allow such vaccination or if the vaccine is in short supply.
Municipal tax increment financing: Amends provisions of the tax increment financing act in order to encourage municipalities to use tax increment financing to facilitate economic development.
Tanning facilities: Prohibits the use of tanning facilities by persons less than eighteen (18) years of age.
Parity of cost sharing requirements for mental health providers: Includes behavioral health counseling visits and medication maintenance visits as primary care visits for patient cost-sharing requirements under the provisions of a health plan.
Finally, out of concern for the effect on small businesses, the General Assembly did not include the Governor’s proposal to increase the cigarette tax by twenty-five (.25) cents per pack, nor the proposal to increase taxes on electronic cigarettes and vaping products.
Below is the link to the 2018 Public Laws List from the General Assembly’s Web site, which will provide you with an updated look, by subject matter, of those bills which have joined the State of Rhode Island General Laws.
As the 2018 session is officially wrapped up and those bills which passed the General Assembly have been transmitted and signed by the Governor, our focus as a Government & Legislative Strategies team has shifted to the upcoming general election scheduled for Wednesday, Tuesday, November 6.
PLDO has extensive experience as a legislative advocate for clients in the private and public sectors. Our experience and deep understanding of our clients' operations and the issues facing them enables us to communicate effectively to legislators and state agencies. For more information about PLDO's government relations capabilities and services, please contact our firm at (401) 824-5100.
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