Rhode Island Small Business Victories


  • Small Claims (Senate Bill 143)This bill increases the jurisdictional limit on counterclaims from $1,500 to $2,500 for small claims and consumer claims. It provides a lower cost method for business owners to resolve small legal disputes.

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  • Bi-Weekly Pay (House Bill 6065/Senate Bill 980)The legislation allows companies with average payrolls of 200% of the minimum wage to pay their workers bi-weekly. After decades of struggling to reform the nation’s most restrictive law on weekly pay, the Rhode Island business community was able to win the right for most Ocean State employers to pay workers less frequently than every week. A bi-weekly pay bill without restrictions was approved by House leaders as part of their economic development package, but met resistance in the Senate. The compromise with specific parameters (allowing bi-weekly pay for all employers with average payrolls of 200% of the minimum wage) was approved. The employer must also provide a surety bond for the highest biweekly pay period of the preceding year. Instead of the most restrictive law in the nation, Rhode Island probably now has about the fortieth most restrictive. And frankly regulations promulgated by the state Division of Labor and Training makes it more difficult to use bi-weekly pay by making companies renew their applications every five years. After so many years, this huge step in the right direction needs additional changes to improve the state’s business climate and to bring Rhode Island law into the mainstream with other states with which business competes.

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  • Apprenticeship Ratios and Public Works Bidding (House Bill 5472/Senate Bill 293)This legislation would effectively preclude small businesses, whether union or non-union, from bidding on most all public construction contracts. Big labor seeks to set apprentice ratios in statute with which small businesses could not comply. In addition to unfairly excluding most Rhode Island construction companies from work on public construction projects (such as schools, public safety buildings, state office buildings, etc.), the law increases the overall cost of public construction by reducing competition in the bidding process. This bill is opposed strongly by NFIB and the business community and the League of Cities and Towns.

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  • Independent Contractor Definition (House Bill 6153/Senate Bill 368)NFIB vigorously fights efforts to redefine independent contractors. The legislation would eliminate the long-established federal IRS 20-point test to determine whether a worker should be classified as an employee or an independent contractor in Rhode Island. The legislation would create a new Rhode Island standard based on the interpretation of a particular worker’s compensation court judge applying a common law definition. The ambiguity of the law and inconsistency in enforcement would make it virtually impossible for a small business owner to be certain about classification issues and a mistake can be very costly to the business owner. NFIB works hard every year to prevent this bill or similar bills from becoming law and small business owners in Rhode Island can continue to use the historically standard and predictable IRS 20-point test when making worker classification determinations.

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