Legislative Testimony

Throughout the legislative session, the Economic Progress Institute tracks the budget and other bills being considered by the Rhode Island General Assembly affecting the economic well-being of low- and modest-income Rhode Islanders. We present policy information and data-based testimony to committees in the General Assembly.


2021 Testimony

Testimony on House Bill 5686  (Payday Lending) 5/25/2021
The Institute supports Representative Barros’s bill , which would eliminate the harms of deferred deposit transactions that drive the payday loan industry in Rhode Island.

Testimony on Senate Bill 453  (Payday Lending) 5/20/2021
The Institute supports Senator Quezada’s bill, which would eliminate the harms of deferred deposit transactions that drive the payday loan industry in Rhode Island.

Testimony on House Bills 5215 and 6072 (Estate Tax) 5/6/2021
The Institute opposes House Bills 5215 and 6072 which aim to erode Rhode Island’s already narrow Estate Tax, resulting in the loss of tens of millions of dollars in much-needed revenue.

Testimony on House Bill 5013 (EITC) 5/6/2021
The Institute supports Representative Slater's bill (H5013), which would raise the state credit from 15% to 20% of the federal EITC. This legislation would help supplement the federal EITC, one of the nation’s most effective tools for boosting the incomes of low-paid working families.

Testimony on Senate Bill 837 (Paid Medical and Family Leave) 5/5/2021
The Institute supports Senator Pearson's bill (SB837), which would introduce economic equality into these programs by requiring employers to contribute to the TDI/TCI fund at an equal amount to their workers’ contributions.

Testimony in Support of Senate Bill 326 (Tax on Top 1%) 5/3/2021
The Institute supports
Senator Murrays bill (S326) to create a new tax bracket for Rhode Island taxpayers in the top 1% and to raise an estimated $128.2 million in annual revenue. This would impact only approximately 5,000 taxpayers, those with Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) above $475,000. Furthermore, the 8.99% rate of this new tax bracket is a marginal rate, meaning it will apply only to any income above the threshold. All income below it will continue to be taxed at current rates.

Testimony on Senate Bill 221 (EITC) 5/3/2021
The Institute supports Senator Felag's bill (S221), which would raise the state credit from 15% to 20% of the federal EITC. This legislation would help supplement the federal EITC, one of the nation’s most effective tools for boosting the incomes of low-paid working families.

Testimony in support of HB6121 - Budget Article 2, and in Opposition to Senate Bill 815 (Paycheck Protection Program) 4/15/2021
The Institute supports the Governor’s proposal in Article 2 of HB6121 (the Supplemental Budget for FY2021) to decouple partially from federal tax rules for the Paycheck Protection Program, and we think the proposal could be made even stronger. For the same reasons, we oppose SB815 which would keep Rhode Island fully coupled to the federal rules.

Testimony in support of Budget Article 12, Sec. 8 (Doula Services and Community Health Workers) and House Bill 5929 (Doula Services) 4/14/2021
The Institute writes in support of H-5929 which would require the Medicaid program and other health insurers to cover perinatal doula services. We also support Budget Article 12, Section 8 which provides EOHHS with authorization to amend the 1115 waiver to cover doula services for Medicaid participants. Long standing racial and ethnic disparities persist in maternal and child health outcomes in Rhode Island. In general, Whites and Asians have better maternal and child health outcomes than other racial/ethnic groups. Doula services have been shown to help improve maternal health outcomes, especially among Black women. EPI also supports the proposal to amend the 1115 waiver to authorize use of Medicaid funds to support and expand the network of Community Health Workers. It is now well-understood that it is critical to address the social determinants of health including adequate nutrition and safe housing not only to improve the health of our residents, especially people of color, but to help bring down health care costs.

Testimony in support of Budget Article 12, Secs. 4 and 8 (Long Term Care Services) 4/14/2021
The Institute writes in support t of Budget Article 12, Section 4 and these proposals in Section 8: Increase the Maintenance of Need Allowance, increase rates paid to shared living providers, increase rates for some direct care workers, increase rates for assisted living providers. These changes will accomplish 3 important goals: increase opportunities for seniors and people with disabilities who need long-term care services to live safely at home or a home-like environment, recognize and more adequately compensate the direct care workers who are critical to ensuring the care and safety of seniors and people with disabilities, and improve services for individuals living in nursing facilities. Testimony is submitted on behalf of Voices for Better Health (VBH), a partnership among EPI, the RI Organizing Project and the Senior Agenda.

Testimony Neutral on HB6122 - Article 9 (Extension of Sunset Dates for Economic Development Programs) 4/13/2021
The Institute takes a neutral position on Article 9 of the Governor’s FY2022 Budget which proposes extending the sunset dates for 14 economic development programs coordinated and managed by the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation. For the Rebuild RI Tax Credit, Tax Increment Financing, and 12 other programs, the Institute urges the General Assembly to undertake serious evaluation of these programs before extending the deadlines beyond 2022.

Testimony on House Bill 5672 (Child Care is Essential Act) 4/8/2021
The Institute writes in strong support of Rep Diaz’s bill, The Child Care is Essential bill, H5672. This bill has four important pieces – two that will work to shore up the child care system in Rhode Island as it reels from the impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic and two that will support families with low-incomes that are struggling to access affordable, quality child care.

Testimony on Article 13, Section 5 and 6 (Child Care) 4/8/2021
The Institute supports the child care provisions included in Article 13 of the Governor’s proposed budget that would invest $6 million to increase reimbursement rates for center-based child care providers and would allow parents enrolled in higher education to access CCAP subsidies.

Testimony on H-5683 and H-6122, Article 13, Sec. 5 (RI Works) 4/8/2021
This testimony is submitted by the Institute on behalf of The Raising RI Coalition. The Coalition strongly supports H-5683, sponsored by Representative Art Handy and Budget Article 13, Section 5 which propose changes to the RI Works program, our state’s cash assistance and work-force readiness program for low-income children and their families. While both include changes that will strengthen the current and future economic security of families, H-5683 is far stronger by requiring an increase in the monthly benefit paid to families.

Testimony in support of HB6121 - Budget Article 2, and in Opposition to House Bill 6170 (Paycheck Protection Program) 4/7/2021
The Institute supports the Governor’s proposal in Article 2 of HB6121 (the Supplemental Budget for FY2021) to decouple partially from federal tax rules for the Paycheck Protection Program, and we think the proposal could be made even stronger. For the same reasons, we oppose SB815 which would keep Rhode Island fully coupled to the federal rules.

Testimony on Budget Article 11 and Senate Bill 568 (Cannabis Legalization) 4/2/2021
Read the Institute's testimony arguing why the legalization of cannabis, if enacted, must be accompanied by strong provisions to advance racial equity, as an appropriate response to decades of inequitable policies and practices undertaken through the war on drugs. Although both Budget Article 11 and Senate Bill 568 provide some equity measures, neither piece of legislation goes far enough. We also suggest that alternative taxation mechanisms be considered, in order to provide a more stable source of revenue to fund programs advancing racial equity.

Testimony on House Bill 5261 (Fair Pay) 3/17/2021
Read the Institute's testimony on House Bill 5261 which, if enacted, would provide critical protections against employer-imposed wage differentials based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of origin.

Testimony on House Bill 5802 (Payday Lending) 3/11/2021
Read the Institute's testimony on House Bill 5802 which, if enacted, would limit the harms of deferred deposit transactions that drive the payday loan industry in Rhode Island. This bill would cap payday loans with APRs of 28 percent, in contrast to the 260 percent rates charged currently. This bill also helps by extending the repayment period and limits excessive fees.

Testimony on House Bill 5115 (Home Cost Sharing) 3/4/2021
Read the Institute's testimony in support of House Bill 5115, which would increase the income eligibility limit for the Home Cost-Share program from 200% of the federal poverty level (FPL) to 250% FPL. The bill would enable more elderly Rhode Islanders to remain in their homes when they need daily support to do so and would promote the state’s long-standing promise to “rebalance” long term care services by increasing investments and opportunities in community-based care vs. care in a facility.

Testimony on House Bill 5012 (Nursing Home Staffing) 3/4/2021
Read the Institute's testimony in support of House Bill 5012, which addresses critical issues that are necessary to ensure that seniors who need the 24-7 care provided by nursing facilities live safely in those environments. By establishing minimum staffing standards, we ensure that residents will receive the quality care that they deserve.

Testimony on Senate Bill 226 (RI Works) 2/25/2021
Read the Institute's testimony in support of Senate Bill 226, which will provide short-term economic support to families that rely on the RI Works program when they have no other source of income. It will also improve long-term economic stability for families and help break the cycle of poverty by providing parents with an opportunity to gain the skills they need to secure a well-paying job and to support them as they enter the workforce.

Testimony on Senate Bill 270 (Wage Discrimination & Fair Pay) 2/24/2021
Read the Institute's testimony in support of Senate Bill 270, which would provide critical protections against employer-imposed wage differentials based on race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, age, or country of origin.

Testimony on Senate Bill 138 (Overtime Wages) 2/24/2021
Read the Institute's testimony in support of Senate Bill 138, which if enacted, would raise the exemption threshold for employers paying their salaried employees overtime wages. By setting the exemption threshold above $1,000 per week, as SB138 would codify, employers would be less able to take advantage of low-salaried and even moderate-salaried workers to work beyond their contracted hours for no additional pay.

Testimony on Senate Bill 195 (Wage Theft) 2/24/2021
Read the Institute's testimony in support of Senate Bill 195, which would increase the penalties for wage theft and employee misclassification.

Testimony on Senate Bill 323 (Domestic Service Wages) 2/24/2021
Read the Institute's testimony in support of Senate Bill 323, if enacted, would end the exclusion from the legal definition, in Rhode Island statute, of an “Employee” those individuals who work as domestic workers or who work in or about the homes of other people. By classifying these individuals as employees, these individuals would qualify for being paid the state’s minimum wage.

Testimony on House Bill 5263 (Domestic Service Wages) 2/24/2021
Read the Institute's testimony in support of House Bill 5263, if enacted, would end the exclusion from the legal definition, in Rhode Island statute, of an “Employee” those individuals who work as domestic workers or who work in or about the homes of other people. By classifying these individuals as employees, these individuals would qualify for being paid the state’s minimum wage.

Testimony on House Bill 5130 (Minimum Wage) 2/24/2021
Read the Institute's testimony in support of House Bill 5130, which which would place Rhode Island on a path to a $15/hour minimum wage.

Testimony on House Bill 5257 (Lawful Source of Income) 2/11/2021
Read the Institute's testimony in support of of House Bill 5257, which would prohibit discrimination in housing based on a person’s receipt of a lawful source of income.

Testimony on House Bill 5158 (Early Childhood Education) 2/10/2021
Read the Institute's testimony in support of Representative Casimiro’s bill, the “Rhode Island Early Educator Investment Act”, which requires the state to develop goals and a plan to improve the recruitment, development, compensation, and retention of effective early educators.

Testimony on Senate Bill 137 (Minimum Wage) 2/3/2021
Read the Institute's testimony in opposition to the Senate Bill 137 which, if enacted, could result in a revenue loss to the state of Rhode Island in the hundreds of millions of dollars per year.

Testimony on Senate Resolution 136 (Minimum Wage) 2/3/2021
Read the Institute's testimony in opposition to the Senate Resolution creating a commission to study RI’s Minimum Wage. The General Assembly and the public already possess adequate information to increase the minimum wage and match our neighbors in MA & CT.

Testimony on Senate Bill 1 and 143 (Minimum Wage) 2/3/2021
The Institute supports both Senator Quezada’s bill SB1 which would place Rhode Island on a path to a $15/hour minimum wage and Senator Ciccone’s bill SB143 which would accomplish the same thing as well as enact a number of additional, positive changes.

Testimony on Senate Bill 3 and 5 (ACA Consumer Protections) 1/14/2021
The Protect Our Health Care Coalition writes in support of S-3 and S-5 which enshrines in our state law the consumer protections included in the ACA to ensure that the coverage that residents are required to buy will truly meet their needs.

Testimony on Senate Bill 2 (Nursing Home Staffing and Quality Care Act) 1/21/2021
The Institute writes in support of S-2 which addresses critical issues that are necessary to ensure the safety of seniors who need the 24-7 care provided by nursing facilities. By establishing minimum staffing standards, we ensure that residents will receive the quality care that they deserve.  The Protect Our Health Care Coalition also testified in support of S-2.

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