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     March 19, 2010 - Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner Issues Order on Small Group Rating Practices by Blue Cross - Insurer agrees to restitution and fine based on its application of the Health Status Factor, read press release.

    Feb. 15, 2010 OHIC and its Health Insurance Advisory Council will accept written and oral public comment on the proposed large and small group rate factors at the February 16, 2010 HIAC meeting at The RI Dept of Labor and Training bldg 73-1 at 4:30 pm. http://www.ohic.ri.gov/documents/Insurers/Regulatory%20Actions/2010_Rate_factor_review/1_Public%20Comment%20Solicitation.pdf
    Jan. 20, 2010 - The Office of the Health Insurance Commissioner has posted all written testimony filed and received for the BCBSRI Direct Pay hearing. To see the filing click here.  
     

     

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  • For additional information, please also see Rhode Island Business Group on Health website ; also RIBGH's 12/31/09 Issue Brief
  • November 16, 2009 - RI-SHRM & RIBGH Health Care Reform Breakfast with U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse - press release - Cost Containment seen as Health-Reform Priority.

    Tracking of Proposed House & Senate Bills



    Click here: ‘E-Verify’ bill back on House calendar | Rhode Island news | projo.com | The Providence Journal


    February 12, 2009

    R.I. jobless to benefit from federal stimulus bill, Providence Journal

    More than 35,000 out-of-work Rhode Islanders could soon start receiving an extra $25 in their weekly unemployment benefit as a result of the federal economic stimulus bill that is close to approval. Read entire article.

    Effect of R.I. waiver on stimulus share vexed the governor, Providence Journal

    Governor Carcieri was far more worried about the federal stimulus package’s effect on his unprecedented Medicaid plans than he ever let on publicly, according to correspondence that surfaced yesterday. Read entire article.

     


    States Enact Broad Range of Employment Laws in 2008   

     

    2/11/2009  By Joanne Deschenaux 

    Minimum wage, equal employment opportunity, immigration protections, time off, wages paid and worker privacy were among the most active areas for state legislatures in 2008, according to a report published in the January issue of the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Monthly Labor Review.

    According to the three Department of Labor researchers who prepared the report, however, the states enacted fewer labor and employment laws in 2008 than in 2007. The decrease was due in part to the fact that only 44 states and the District of Columbia met in regular session during 2008, while all 50 states met in regular session in 2007.

    Minimum Wage Increases

    In 2008 as in 2007, the minimum wage was the “hot-button” issue, with at least 27 states and the District of Columbia raising the rate. This was due to several factors, the report noted.

    First, a number of states have laws that require them to keep their minimum wage rates equal to or greater than the federal rate. Because the federal minimum wage was increased to $6.55 per hour on July 24, 2008, those had to put into effect an increased minimum wage of their own. Second, some states have laws that require them to implement an increase in the minimum wage once a year, based upon the cost-of-living increase reported in various consumer price indexes. Finally, regular minimum wage legislative activity can occur during any particular year.

    States that raised their wage floor in 2008 include Arizona, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and West Virginia.

    Equal Employment Opportunity

    A number of states passed a variety of equal employment opportunity measures in 2008.California now requires that all contractors and subcontractors engaged in construction provide equal employment opportunity, without discrimination, under an expanded list of factors. The District of Columbia requires employers to provide reasonable daily unpaid break periods and a sanitary location so that breast-feeding mothers can express milk. The District also broadened the definition of “discrimination” to include gender identity or expression.

    The Kansas Department of Labor is now permitted to establish the rules and regulations necessary to enforce state laws that prohibit employment discrimination against victims of domestic violence or sexual abuse. New Jersey made it unlawful for employers to discriminate against employees because of religious practices.

    Immigration Measures

    States continued in 2008 to pass laws requiring certain employers to verify the work eligibility of job applicants.

    In Arizona, state or local agencies responsible for issuing licenses are now required to verify that the applicant is lawfully present in the United States. In addition, the state expanded the scope of identity theft to include knowingly accepting the identity of another person when hiring that individual, if the person doing the hiring knows that the prospective employee is not the person identified.

    Prospective contractors in Colorado must certify that they are not knowingly employing or contracting with an illegal alien who will perform work under the contract. The Minnesota governor ordered the state to implement measures to ensure that all newly hired executive branch employees are legally eligible to work. Mississippi enacted the Mississippi Employment Protection Act, which requires employers in the state to hire only legal citizens or legal aliens of the United States.

    In South Carolina, a new law requires every agency or political subdivision of the state to verify the lawful presence of any person 18 years or older who has applied for public employment. Utah now prohibits a public employer from entering into a contract with a contractor for the physical performance of services within the state, unless the contractor registers with, and participates in, the federal employee verification system. Virginia now permits the State Corporation Commission to terminate the corporate existence of a corporation for actions that constitute a pattern or practice of employing unauthorized aliens in the commonwealth.

    Time Off

    Laws requiring employers to provide paid and unpaid time off passed in several states in 2008. The District of Columbia established requirements for certain employers to provide paid sick leave to qualified employees. Employers in Florida now must grant an employee up to three working days of leave during a 12-month period if the employee or a family or household member of the employee is the victim of domestic violence or sexual abuse.

    Iowa employers may not penalize an employee due to the employee’s service as a witness in a criminal proceeding. In Nebraska, employers may not terminate or take any other disciplinary action against any employee who is a voluntary emergency responder if the employee is absent or reports late to work because of responding to an emergency. Employers in New York are required, at their option, either to grant a three-hour leave of absence every 12 months to an employee who seeks to donate blood or to allow their employees to donate blood during work hours at least two times per year, without using any accumulated leave time.

    Rhode Island employers of more than 50 employees must provide up to 30 days of unpaid family military leave during the time federal or state orders are in effect, as long as the employees meet certain requirements. Employees in Vermont shall have the right to take unpaid leave from employment to attend a town meeting, as long as they notify the employer at least seven days before the date of the meeting.

    Wages Paid

    Several states also chose to regulate in the area of the wage payment. California has made it a misdemeanor for an employer to require an employee, as a condition of being paid, to execute a statement of the hours the employee may have worked during a pay period when the employer knows the statement to be false. Iowa law now states that, upon written request by an employee, an employer must send any wages due to the employee by mail.

    Employers in Maryland are required to give each employee, at the time of hiring, notice of the employee's rate of pay, the regular paydays set by the employer and leave benefits. Upon meeting certain requirements, employers in West Virginia are now permitted to pay the wages that are due employees via the utilization of a payroll card and a payroll card account.

    Worker Privacy

    Finally, a number of state laws passed in 2008 addressed employee privacy. Colorado employers may no longer require, as a condition of employment, that employees not disclose their wages or require employees to sign a waiver or other document that purports to deny them the right to disclose information about their wages. Missouri prohibits employers from requiring personal identification microchips to be implanted into employees for any reason. New York employers may not publicly post or display an employee's Social Security number, visibly print a Social Security number in files with unrestricted access or communicate an employee's personal identifying information to the general public.

    Joanne Deschenaux is SHRM’s senior legal editor.

     


    February 4, 2009
    R.I. would gain 13,000 jobs, Mass. 83,300 under Obama plan
    WASHINGTON – Rhode Island could expect to create or retain 13,000 jobs under President Barack Obama’s financial stimulus plan, while Massachusetts could gain 83,300 jobs, according to state-by-state data released by the White House. Read entrire PBN article.

    January 29, 2009 Union membership rises in R.I.

    Union membership in Rhode Island increased by 3,000 workers in 2008, according to data released today by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Read entire PBN article.


    December 28, 2008 - Update 2008: E-Verify proposal faces uncertain future in Senate - The controversial “E-Verify” bill, requiring private employers to check the immigration status of new hires, had been approved by House members weeks before. But it still hadn’t made it to the Senate floor. Read entire Projo article here.

     


    December 3, 2008 - Testimony regarding the Executive Order 08-01 that requires certain Rhode Island employers to use the Federal Government’s E-Verify program to check the work-eligibility of new hires to Division of Purchases, Department of Administration, by Cindy Butler, SPHR on behalf of RISHRM.

     


    Update August 11, 2008

    On August 11, 2008 the Rhode Island State Council for the Society for Human Resource Management and HRM-RI submitted comments  to the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) opposing a proposed rulemaking mandating the use of E-Verify by government contractors and subcontractors issued on June 12, 2008. (See www.Regulations.gov FAR-FAR-2008-0001-0003 to read the Rule)

    It is very important that the GSA hear from HR organizations on the need to ensure a federal electronic employment verification system works before mandating its use by employers and that they understand how this rule would impact the workplace.

    Please read entire letter, click here.

     


    New Rhode Island Law Grants Military Family Members Unpaid Leave

    On June 23, 2008, Gov. Donald Carcieri signed into law the Family Military Leave Act, Rhode Island General Laws sections 30-33-1 to 30-33-6. The act, effective when signed, offers a new right to unpaid leave for the family of service-members. Under the new law, spouses and parents of persons called into military service must be allowed time off and restored to an equivalent position at the conclusion of their leave.

    The act applies to all Rhode Island employers with more than 15 employees and covers both employees and independent contractors. In order to qualify for leave under the act, an employee must satisfy the same eligibility requirements as required under the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA). The act calls for leave for spouses and parents of persons called to military service, but not for children of service members.

    For more details: click here.


     Updated September 3, 2008

     

    On March 27, 2008, Gov. Donald Carcieri signed an executive order that requires certain employers to use an electronic verification system, E-Verify, to check on the eligibility of new hires and to validate their social security numbers. The entire executive order is available here.
    Frequently Asked Questions regarding the RI Governor's Executive-Order for certain employers to comply with E-Verify - click here.

    Updated July 29, 2008
    States Pass Varied Employment-Related Immigration Measures
    By Joanne Deschenaux
    NEW ORLEANS—From Jan. 1 until June 30, 2008, 198 employment-related immigration bills were introduced in state legislatures around the country. Eighteen new laws were enacted in 15 states, according to a report released by the Immigrant Policy Project of the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) July 24 at the NCSL’s annual Legislative Summit.
    These laws, as well as the more than 150 immigration bills not pertaining to employment enacted during the same period, “show that state legislatures are tackling immigration in a variety of ways, at an unprecedented rate,” said State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, in introducing the report. “We recognize the challenges related to immigration, including security and economic issues, but keep in mind our history as a country of immigrants.”
    Citing the failure of the federal government to enact immigration reform, Van de Putte added that “there is widespread agreement that the immigration system is broken” and that “the states are our laboratories.”
    The employment-related laws take a variety of approaches in tackling immigration issues.
    Arizona House Bill (H.B.) 2745, signed May 1, 2008, and effective immediately, revisits legislation the state passed in 2007, adjusting the prohibitions against intentionally employing an unauthorized alien and eliminating independent contractors from the definition of employee. The act provides that companies can be punished only for unauthorized workers they hired after Jan. 1, 2008, and that a violation at one location of a company shuts down only that location, not the entire corporation.
    Colorado H.B. 1325, signed June 5 and effective Aug. 6, creates a pilot guest worker program to expedite the approval of foreign workers under the federal H-2A visa program. Colorado Senate Bill (S.B.) 193, signed May 13 and effective Aug. 6, creates a program to allow a contractor to verify employment eligibility of all employees under a public contract and requires future participation in the Federal Electronic Employment Eligibility Program (E-Verify) or the department program to verify the employment eligibility of certain employees. Colorado S.B. 139, signed May 20 and effective Aug. 6, requires that the state Department of Labor and Employment web site provide information about the state laws regarding the hiring of unauthorized immigrants and requirements for participating in E-Verify.
    Mississippi S.B. 2988, signed March 17, requires every employer in the state to use the E-Verify program to verify the employment authorization status of newly hired employees. No contractor or subcontractor can hire any employee unless it is registered and participating in the system. State agencies and employers with at least 250 employees must comply by July 1, 2008; employers with 100 to 249 employees must comply by July 1, 2009; employers with 30 to 99 employees must comply by July 1, 2010; all employers must comply by July 1, 2011. Penalties include loss of public contracts for up to three years, loss of licenses for up to one year, or both. Additionally, the law makes it a felony for unauthorized workers to knowingly accept or perform work in the state, and it creates a private cause of action for legal U.S. residents laid off and replaced by unauthorized workers.
    Virginia H.B. 926/S.B. 782, signed March 12, provides for various disciplinary actions including revocation or cancellation of a certificate of authority, certificate of organization or certificate of trust of any domestic or foreign corporation, limited liability company, limited partnership or business trust conducting business in the state, for a violation of state or federal law prohibiting the employment of illegal aliens. Virginia H.B. 1298/S.B. 517, signed March 12, requires public contractors to sign a statement that they will not knowingly employ unauthorized aliens on public contracts.
    The laws passed in Alaska, Florida, Idaho, Maryland, Missouri, Tennessee, Washington and West Virginia are more limited in scope. Alaska’s law (S.B. 120, signed May 28 and effective immediately) concerns the confidentiality of information related to the immigration status of individuals claiming unemployment benefits.
    West Virginia’s law (H.B. 4255, signed March 27) authorizes the state Division of Labor to promulgate a legislative rule relating to verifying the legal employment status of workers.
    The measure passed in Missouri (H.B. 2058, signed June 11) says any employer that purposely and directly employs unauthorized aliens forfeits tax credits earned while the unauthorized individuals were employed.
    Idaho’s law (H.B. 445, signed March 3) applies only to public works projects. Florida (H.B. 601 and S.B. 1702) and Washington (H.B. 2779) regulate only certain industries, and Maryland’s law (S.B. 650) is related to penal bonding requirements by employment agencies.
    Tennessee’s law (S.B. 4069, signed April 29 and effective immediately) modifies the state’s previously enacted immigration law by permitting an employer to obtain the name of a person filing a complaint regarding the hiring of an illegal immigrant. A second law passed in Arizona (S.B. 1125, signed May 12, 2008) concerns unemployment benefits, and an additional law passed in Virginia (H.B. 1386, signed March 10) pertains to veterans’ benefits.
    Joanne Deschenaux is SHRM’s senior legal editor.
    Related Article:
    More States Take on Immigration Reform, HR Magazine, January 2008

     

    E-Verify Testimony

    Updated May 13, 2008
    Summary of the Testimony recently submitted to the RI Senate Labor Committee by RI SHRM opposing S. 2091 which would mandate that all RI Employers participate in the Federal E-Verify Program: click here.
    Frequently Asked Questions regarding the RI Governor's Executive-Order for certain employers to comply with E-Verify - click here.