Senate passes bills to boost trades


STATE HOUSE – The Senate today approved three bills to strengthen Rhode Island’s trades.

The first, sponsored by Senate President Pro Tempore Hanna M. Gallo (D-Dist. 27, Cranston, West Warwick) would direct a portion of funds from commercial and residential building permits toward contractor training programs.

The bill (2022-S 2855) raises an assessment on residential building permits from .1 to .2 of total construction costs, capped at $100, and directs the new portion to the Department of Labor and Training’s contractor training account. It would then be used for contractor training grants for minority business enterprises, state and local building officials and more.

Another bill (2022-S 2841) that passed today, also sponsored by Senator Gallo, would give school committees responsibility for incorporating career and technical education programs into kindergarten through grade 12 curricula, including knowledge of careers and all types of employment opportunities and registered apprenticeships, and emphasizing the advantages of completing school with marketable skills.

“Having a workforce that is very well-trained in construction trades — and encouraging young people to enter those trades — will benefit all segments of Rhode Island’s economy. Development depends on workers who are ready to build, and the trades will provide rewarding, family-sustaining careers well into the future,” said Senator Gallo.

A third bill (2022-S 2551Aaa), sponsored by Sen. Meghan E. Kallman (D-Dist. 15, Pawtucket, North Providence), would require projects that are awarded tax credits through the Rebuild Rhode Island Program to adhere to the same wage and payment standards for construction workers required under state contracts, including paying prevailing wages and issuing paychecks weekly.

“When the state is investing resources into development, we have a responsibility to ensure that those funds are used in a way that is consistent with the labor standards we’ve laid out for how our state does business. Construction workers are Rhode Islanders, and they deserve to be paid fairly, especially when the state is a partner on their project,” said Senator Kallman.

All three bills now go to the House of Representatives, where Rep. Brandon Potter (D-Dist. 16, Cranston) has introduced companion legislation (2022-H 7985) to the Rebuild Rhode Island bill.