Database tracks legislation affecting cost of business in R.I.

The Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council and the R.I. Commerce Corporation announced the relaunch of the database Tuesday for tracking business-related legislation introduced in the General Assembly. (Updated, 1:16 p.m.) More

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Database tracks legislation affecting cost of business in R.I.

THE RHODE ISLAND Public Expenditure Council and the R.I. Commerce Corporation, also known as Commerce RI, will jointly maintain a database monitoring legislation related to the state’s tax structure, regulatory climate and workforce policies, the two organizations announced Tuesday.
Posted 2/4/14

(Updated, 1:16 p.m.)

PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Public Expenditure Council and the R.I. Commerce Corporation announced the relaunch of the database Tuesday for tracking business-related legislation introduced in the General Assembly.

The database, first launched jointly by RIPEC and Commerce RI last year, aims to assist business leaders and legislators by identifying which proposed policies may affect the cost of doing business in Rhode Island.

“If the state is to improve its competitive position there must be a thorough examination of how the state fares on economic competitiveness and business climate policies, and tracking pertinent legislation is an important step in this endeavor,” said John Simmons, executive director of RIPEC, in a release.

Specifically, the database includes legislation related to the state’s tax structure, regulatory climate and workforce policies, and details each bill’s respective title, sponsor, intent, relevant companion bills, legislative subcommittee and any recent action taken on the legislation.

Two separate documents – one for Senate legislation and one for House legislation – will be updated bi-weekly and posted to RIPEC’s website at www.ripec.org/publications/2014-Business-Climate-Legislation.

“The collaboration between the R.I. Commerce Corporation, RIPEC, the governor’s office and the General Assembly highlights the importance of helping the business community by providing quality service through access to timely and useful information,” said Marcel A. Valois, executive director of the R.I. Commerce Corporation. “We want to ensure that businesses are aware of what legislation is impacting them and how, and this database will be an important one-stop resource for issues that affect Rhode Island’s business climate.”

RIPEC and Commerce RI, together with the General Assembly, will seek input and suggestions from the business community regarding the inclusion of legislation in the database, but it will be limited to bills with a clear, direct impact on business to prevent the database from becoming cumbersome, said Kelly Rogers, manager of policy and public affairs for RIPEC.

“A lot of proceedings up at Statehouse are not exactly very accessible in some cases, and this made it more accessible,” said Rogers. “Last year’s project had lots of industry groups, trade associations and individuals comment that they found it helpful in terms of how bills are moving through the General Assembly.”

This year, Rogers said, RIPEC hopes to set up a forum for review and analysis of the legislation included in the database at the end of the General Assembly’s session, something that was not done after the database’s inaugural launch last year.

Gov. Lincoln D. Chafee said the database directly aligns with his transparency and accountability initiative, and Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed and Speaker of the House Gordon D. Fox both stressed the importance of transparency as the General Assembly enters a legislative session that will focus on improving Rhode Island’s economic competitiveness and business climate.

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