House passes Kennedy bill to facilitate business response during declared state emergencies

 

STATE HOUSE — The House of Representatives today passed legislation introduced by Speaker Pro Tempore Brian Patrick Kennedy (D-Dist. 38, Hopkinton, Westerly) that would help out-of-state businesses to respond in a rapid manner during declared emergencies in Rhode Island.

The Facilitating Business Rapid Response to State Declared Disaster Act of 2024 (2024-H 7087A) would exempt out-of-state businesses and their employees performing services during declared state or federal disasters or emergencies from state or local business requirements, as well as state or local taxes or fees. This updates legislation that was sponsored by Representative Kennedy and first passed by the General Assembly in 2012.

“This bill would curb requirements that impede the ability of businesses, such as the wireless industry, to rapidly respond to a declared disaster or emergency,” said Representative Kennedy. “At the same time, this could even apply to the distribution of our electrical system if, for instance, we had to bring in individuals from out of state to help rebuild the grid.”

The bill acknowledges that during times of storm, flood, fire, earthquake, hurricane or other disaster or emergency, many businesses bring in resources and personnel from other states throughout the country on a temporary basis to expedite the often enormous and overwhelming task of cleaning up, restoring and repairing damaged buildings, equipment and property or even deploying or building replacement facilities in the state.

For example, wireless providers need the flexibility to bring out-of-state employees into the state temporarily without having to subject those employees to state or local tax withholding payments or subject them to state licensing or registration requirements during a declared disaster.

The legislation also declares that during such time of operating in the state on a temporary basis solely for purposes of helping the state recover from the disaster or emergency, these businesses and individual employees should not be burdened by any requirements for business and employee taxes as a result of such activities in the state for a temporary period.

“The National Conference of State Legislatures adopted the bill as model legislation,” said Representative Kennedy, who serves as president of the organization. “It also has been endorsed by the Multistate Tax Commission.”

The measure now moves to the Senate, where similar legislation (2024-S 2214) has been introduced by Sen. Mark P. McKenney (D-Dist. 30, Warwick).

 

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