Rhode Island General Assembly

Office of the House Minority Caucus

 

Rep Quattrocchi Submitting RI Business Regulatory Reform Act

 

State House, Providence – Today, Rhode Island House Representative Robert Quattrocchi submitted legislation to strengthen the small business owner voice in the Ocean State. Rhode Island consistently ranks at the bottom of business-friendly state rankings and the Rhode Island Business Reform Act seeks to create meaningful change for small business owners.

The CNBC 2022 Survey, which measures 85 different metrics, ranked Rhode Island 45th, a slight improvement from the 46th slot in the 2021 survey. In both years, Rhode Island scored particularly low in “The cost to do business category” and the “business friendly (regulatory climate)” categories. The cost to do business in Rhode Island also makes the state less competitive and increases the probability of first year business failure. Other than the General Assembly, there are very few avenues and mechanisms for small businesses to improve the regulatory climate in Rhode Island, and this bill seeks to change that practice.

Rhode Island small businesses never fully recovered from the pandemic and continue to struggle with the cost to do business in Rhode Island. One of these costs, is the regulatory scheme and legal requirements for a particular business (depending upon the nature of the business or the license required).  Due to the diverse array of businesses and regulatory schemes, it is hard to craft broad regulatory reforms that can provide relief to every type of business licensed in Rhode Island.

The proposed legislation by Rep Quattrocchi, seeks to empower small businesses by creating meaningful avenues for them to directly address regulatory changes that exist in their particular line of business. The first avenue is to establish a full-time small business ombudsman to assist and work on behalf of small businesses to address regulatory and enforcement issues. The legislation combines this new ombudsman role with an existing small business advocate and gives the position more authority, while streamlining the bureaucracy.

Secondly, the proposed legislation improves and clarifies the process for businesses to petition both regulatory and licensing agencies for rulemaking. This will particularly help small businesses, giving them the ability to participate in the regulatory process.

Further, the proposal would require a petitioned state agency to justify in writing any denial of a petition and publicly post any changes made due to a petition request.

“Rhode Island consistently ranks near last in national ratings for small business friendliness,” said Representative Bob Quattrocchi.  “Our often overlooked “mom and pop” businesses are the backbone of Rhode Island’s economy and face many challenging regulatory burdens. State government should not be a challenge nor a burden. In 2009, legislative efforts were enacted, which attempted to ease some of the hurdles experienced by our small businesses, to no avail. This bill would give a much needed, stronger voice to small business owners and provide avenues for them to address their regulatory concerns."

 

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