2022 Legislative Principles
We believe that a vibrant, pro-business economic environment is the path to
prosperity for all Rhode Islanders in every neighborhood from every community.
The Chamber's focus is to help create jobs so people can find satisfying work, provide for their families and give back to the community. While COVID-19 continues to have an impact on the local economy, we are equally committed to workforce development programs that advance diversity, equity and inclusion.
Our vision is to establish Rhode Island as a national leader for private sector job growth and a premier state in which to live and work.
Nurture an Inviting Business Climate
A critical piece of strengthening Rhode Island’s economy is reducing the burden on businesses, at both the state and municipal levels. From health care costs and energy to taxes and wages, we need certainty and efficiency in Rhode Island’s business climate to encourage businesses to grow, create jobs, and relocate in Rhode Island.
Drive Consistency and Simplicity for Job Creation
We will continue to monitor and oppose any legislative actions related to employment mandates that would make Rhode Island an outlier relative to other states’ labor and employment laws or create state law that is redundant with Federal law and support legislation which would preempt municipal workplace mandates and create uniformity on employment law in Rhode Island.
Support a Competitive Tax Code
A fair, equitable and predictable tax system promotes private sector growth and makes Rhode Island more competitive. We believe that people should keep more of what they earn and oppose any broad-based tax increases on corporations, individuals or industry-specific taxes. This is especially true when revenues are already at historic levels and significant Federal resources are available.
Spend Pandemic Funding Wisely
Rhode Island’s pandemic recovery funds create the opportunity to make meaningful investments that could improve life for generations of Rhode Island. Public officials should use a long-term, investor mind set when determining spending of unprecedented resources from a variety of Federal sources and should weigh which initiatives have the greatest promise for improving the lives among those most directly impacted by the pandemic without adding ongoing, legacy costs to the state budget. This includes prioritized funding for key infrastructure and transportation projects. All funding should be distributed with maximum transparency and accountability. Replenishing the unemployment insurance fund – which was depleted by the pandemic – should be a priority.
Invest in our Children
The Chamber continues to support investments and innovation in elementary & secondary education and child care, a long-term commitment to education reforms and work-based learning opportunities to prepare all our young people, especially those from disadvantaged circumstances, for not only careers but fulfilling futures. From pre-k through college, our students need accessible, equitable and high-quality educational experiences to fully prepare them for productive lives and good citizenship. This includes providing them with safe, healthy schools and vibrant environments that facilitate the development of 21st century skills, strengthen our communities and allow our young people to reach their full potential.
Prepare and Train our Workforce
Increased investments in higher education are essential for Rhode Island to be competitive and support the state’s overall workforce needs. The chamber supports initiatives and appropriate funding aimed at achieving Rhode Island’s goal of 70% attainment by 2025 including continuing education for nontraditional adult age students as well as preparing traditional students for careers of the future. Our workforce should reflect the diversity of our state and we believe that everyone should have opportunities to maximize their personal potential and be full stakeholders in the success of our state.
Drive Economic Development with Public Private Partnerships
Maintaining economic development incentives is vital to ensuring that Rhode Island remains competitive with other states in attracting and retaining businesses in our state. This includes support for the businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic including minority-owned businesses and incentives to both locate and expand in the state as well as access to capital for start-up and small businesses. Support the extension of the sunset provisions of existing Commerce Corporation economic development incentives.
Jumpstart our Blue and Green Economies
We support industry-led efforts to move to a greener economy including creating sustainability goals and promoting greater environmental responsibility and efficient use of natural resources. As “The Ocean State”, we support leveraging our unique, natural advantages to create a dynamic blue economy and position the state for significant growth opportunities spanning multiple industry sectors ranging from aquaculture and defense to ocean engineering and offshore energy. These efforts will add resiliency to both our environment and our economy. Support legislation that expands climate protections without creating a burden for compliant businesses.
Ensure Vital Workplace Safety
Reinforcing that businesses can set appropriate workplace guidelines relative to recreational marijuana use is of the utmost importance for the business community and the rights of businesses to have a healthy, safe workplace for employees and customers must be maintained in the development of any legalization framework.
Chamber President Laurie White spoke with Rick Metters, Vice President, RI Regional Public Affairs & Corporate Community Relations at Fidelity Investments. Rick is a Chamber Board member and Chair of the Government Affairs Committee. Rick and Laurie discussed the Chamber's 2022 Legislative Principles focused on a vibrant economy as the path to prosperity for all Rhode Islanders.