Name: Rep. Patricia Morgan
January 27, 2016
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Morgan Introduces Bills to Improve Jobs Climate
RI Needs Strong Foundation of Business-Friendly Policies
We Shouldn't Have to Pay Businesses to Come. They Should Come Because RI is a Great Place to Grow
STATE HOUSE - Representative Patricia Morgan (R-District 26, Coventry, Warwick, West Warwick) has introduced a package of bills aimed at improving the business climate in Rhode Island.
"Over decades, Rhode Island lawmakers and bureaucrats have placed strong impediments on our job creators," said Morgan. "We have created a hostile environment for businesses willing to invest in our state. Burdensome regulations seem to increase each year. Too many politicians view companies as convenient ATM machines. Simply, our state policies encourage business to expand elsewhere. These factors have depressed Rhode Island’s employers’ ability to grow both jobs and futures for our workers."
Continued Morgan, "As a result, our average household income is shrinking and our young graduates and experienced professionals are leaving the state for better opportunities. We can't solve this overnight, but we need to start healing our sick economy now. These bills are intended to repair the foundational policies on which our economy is built. If we have a good foundation; good policies and a good, business friendly climate, not only will our existing businesses thrive and grow jobs, but new companies will find Rhode Island an attractive place to locate. Businesses create jobs and Rhode Island needs more of them, in all sectors with opportunity for raises and promotions."
Morgan said that while tax incentives are in vogue, the most important piece of a thriving business climate is its foundation; good policies, sensible and transparent regulation, fair tax treatment, and honest, helpful government.
“We want businesses to come to Rhode Island, not because we pay them to come, but because it's a good place to grow," she said.
The bills include:
1) Direct the Commerce Corporation to facilitate the development of industrial parks located in any city or town by using its successful pre-approval process: Legislation instructing the Commerce Corporation to expand its successful model of regulatory streamlining to industrial parks. The Quonset Industrial Park has been a shining example of the job growth that can occur when government works with businesses as a partner. The Quonset Corporation has not only streamlined the permitting process, it works with interested companies in developing the resources they need to thrive. There are Industrial parks throughout Rhode Island run by our cities and towns that could benefit from replicating the model. I'm asking the Commerce Corporation to facilitate with this development and increase business opportunities.
2) Estate Tax Reform: Although many small companies may seem to be worth a lot, their value mostly represents buildings and equipment. When a primary owner dies, many companies do not have the necessary cash to pay crushing estate taxes. Unfortunately, the company is left with few options, sell equipment or take out unwanted loans. Both of these options weaken the company and can lead to its collapse. These small companies don't have the resources for complicated estate planning and costly insurance. This bill would align Rhode Island with the federal estate tax structure, which would exempt from the state estate tax business property up to the value of $5 million. This provision will allow small businesses to stay open and employ Rhode Islanders after an owner’s death.
3) Health Insurance Availability Reform: Large employers receive better health insurance rates because their experience or claims rating is moderated over a larger group of employees. This bill would permit insurers to allow small businesses to group together to purchase their health insurance plans. Health insurance is one of their highest operating expenses. This will help companies provide good coverage to employees at a cheaper cost. Employees win through better plan opportunities and employers win with reduced premium costs.
4) Tort Reform: This bill brings to Rhode Island legal reform that a majority of states have already adopted. Joint and several liability has been also referred to as 'deep pocket' lawsuits. In Rhode Island, if an involved party is judged to be only 1 % liable, they can be required to pay the total costs of any judgment. This makes businesses reluctant to locate in Rhode Island. Lawyers seek to draw any company into a lawsuit knowing that these firms could pay all damages if found liable. Joining other states with this reform, Rhode Island will now have a threshold of 51% liability.
"These are common sense and needed reforms that will begin repairing the damage that over-regulation and poor policies have done to our job climate,” said Morgan. “Although some special interests may object, we must consider the welfare of the majority of our hard-working families. They need well-paying jobs with a future. These bills are a first step on the path towards prosperity."