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State Report: E-Licensing, Lawmakers Address Autism + Gun Safety

Saturday, January 04, 2014

 

This week’s State Report centers on business in Rhode Island. Not only did Governor Lincoln Chafee launch a new eLicensing System, but also Secretary of State Ralph Mollis released fourth quarter data for new business entity creations. Aside from business, we’ll also preview the General Assembly’s upcoming 2014 legislative session, which starts on Tuesday, January 2.

RI Launches New Licensing + Permitting System

On Thursday, Governor Lincoln D. Chafee, the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation (DBR) Director Paul McGreevy and Office of Digital Excellence Chief Digital Officer Thom Guertin rolled out the State's new eLicensing System at the Rhode Island Association of Realtors' headquarters in Warwick.

"This type of streamlined process is a key project that ensures government is more productive, and sends a message beyond our borders that we are working toward creating a simpler and easier environment for businesses," Governor Chafee said. "I congratulate the Department of Business Regulation, the Office of Digital Excellence and the Division of Information Technology for forging a strong and successful partnership that ensured this important initiative came to fruition."

Making it easier to do business

Streamlining and updating the process of working with government is part of an overall strategy by the Office of Digital Excellence, the Division of Information Technology (DoIT) and the Department of Business Regulation to make all forms of licensing and permitting simpler and more convenient. Together they have developed a full-service, one-stop around-the-clock opportunity to make doing business in Rhode Island seamless.

The Office of Digital Excellence and DoIT are in the process of preparing for the roll out of similar projects in other parts of government, including an ePermitting solution which can be adapted to individual municipalities.

"We're continuing to look for new ways to make the licensing process more efficient. The Department of Business Regulation was able to consolidate a number of the processes to save time and implement a system that is easy to use," Thom Guertin, Chief Digital Officer, Rhode Island's Office of Digital Excellence (ODE), said. "We're looking forward to reviewing the results, and continuing to introduce improvements with the input of Rhode Island businesses." "Now Rhode Islanders who need this service have up-to-date technology that saves time and is easy to use," John E. Landers, Rhode Island's Chief Information Officer, Division of Information Technology (DoIT), said. "We moved quickly on completing this project so licensees have access to everything they need."

Licensing at your fingertips

With the Department of Business Regulations online project up and running, the public and business owners now have 24/7 access to obtaining and renewing licenses offered by DBR. The eLicensing resource is located at www.dbr.ri.gov.

"One of the primary objectives of this project was to enhance customer service," Paul McGreevy, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation, said. "By understanding the needs of our license holders and the public, we now have an eLicensing system to meet the expectations of our customers."

The new DBR website covers more than 43,000 licenses for appraisers, architects, auctioneers, auto body shops, Board of Accountancy, charitable organizations, professional fundraisers, franchises, liquor, mobile home parks, professional engineers, landscape architects, land surveyors, racing and athletics, real estate, time shares and upholstery. Every one of the licenses for either an individual or a company is now located online in one account.

"In the real estate field, eLicensing has brought efficiency and simplicity to procedures previously unavailable and time-consuming," Susan Arnold, Chief Executive Officer for the Rhode Island Association of Realtors, said. "Real estate professionals can now do everything they need for their business in one bucket.

Check out more news from the past week below.

 

Related Slideshow: RI State Report: More News of the Week - 1/4/14

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Lawmakers to Reconvene

The General Assembly will open its 2014 session on Tuesday, January 7. The House of Representatives and the Senate will convene in their respective chambers at 4 p.m. to begin the work of the new legislative year.

Speaker of the House Gordon D. Fox (D-Dist. 4, Providence) and President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D-Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) will gavel their chambers to order. Opening day of the General Assembly is, per Rhode Island Constitution, the first Tuesday in January. House and Senate floor sessions are typically held Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays.

General Assembly sessions are open to the public and are also televised by Capitol TV – Channel 15 for Cox Communications and Full Channel, Channel 34 for Verizon.

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Small Business Creation

On Friday, Secretary of State Ralph Mollis released fourth quarter data for new business entity creations, which illustrated that businesses continue to file at the same rate as last year.

According to the data, nearly 1,616 new business entities registered with the Secretary of State’s Business Services Division for the fourth quarter, which runs between October 1st through December 31st, 2013.

From January 1 through December 31st, 2013, there were a total of 7,199 new entity filings processed by the Business Services Division, which is an increase of 1.015% from last year’s year-end totals.

“I am pleased to see that we are continuing to grow new business opportunities here in Rhode Island. This is positive news for our business community,” said Mollis.

In 2007, Secretary Mollis implemented an online filing system designed to improve customer experience and make the process more efficient.  As of year end 2013, 58% of all annual report filings were filed electronically, as opposed to a paper filing.

Most newly formed business entities in Rhode Island choose a corporate structure that requires registering with the Secretary of State. More than 70,000 limited liability companies and for-profit and non-profit corporations are currently registered.

The Secretary of State’s Business Services Division also works with start-ups and oversees recording commercial liens, registering notaries public and protecting corporate trademarks.

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Autism Commission

The Special Joint Commission to Study the Quality of Life and Create Positive Outcomes for Individuals with Autism in Rhode Island will meet at noon Thursday, January 9, in Room 135 of the State House.

Thursday's gathering will be an organizational meeting that will include electing a Chairperson, reviewing legislation, discussing goals and objectives, and setting a next meeting date.

In related news, Sen. Adam J. Satchell (D-Dist. 9, West Warwick) recently called upon local artists and members of the public to submit designs for a special license plate supporting the Autism Project of Rhode Island.

The senator, whose bill authorizing the creation of the special license plate passed the General Assembly this year, said he is excited to offer local artists a chance to compete for their own unique designs for a good cause.

The submission deadline was Jan. 1 and submissions are currently being reviewed. For more information visit the project's Facebook page.

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Firearms Task Force

The Joint Behavioral Health and Firearms Safety Task Force is scheduled to meet next week with a representative of the federal Department of Justice and a Connecticut State Police official in charge of firearms licensing.

The task force is scheduled to meet Thursday, Jan. 9, at 4:30 p.m. in Room 313 on the third floor of the State House.

Scheduled to make presentations are Jeanne E. Miller, senior attorney for the United States Department of Justice; and Lt. Eric Cooke, commanding officer, special licensing and firearms, for the Connecticut State Police.

Created by legislation sponsored by its co-chairwomen, Rep. Deborah Ruggiero and Sen. Catherine Cool Rumsey, the task force is a key element of the package of legislation introduced this year in the General Assembly to address gun safety following the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The 20-member task force is to weigh the rights of those with behavioral health problems to own guns with the risks. The panel is to conduct a review of current law and make recommendations on legislation to improve public safety by developing a more comprehensive approach addressing the nexus between behavioral health and firearms safety.

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Fox Fundraiser

House Speaker Gordon D. Fox will hold his first fundraiser of the year on Wednesday, January 22 from 6:00pm - 8:00pm at the Providence Marriot.
 
Fox (D – Dist. 4, Providence) has confirmed his intentions to run for re-election in 2014. The Speaker won re-election in 2012 when he defeated Independent Mark Binder.
 
Fox is serving his third term as Majority Leader, as elected by his Democratic colleagues. He has served as a member of the House of Representatives since January 1993.
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Johnston Groundbreaking

On Monday, Sen. Frank Lombardo III (D-Dist. 25, Johnston) joined town officials for a groundbreaking ceremony of the new 28,000-square-foot complex, located adjacent to TD Bank North and Walgreens.

According to Lombardo, the groundbreaking of the new mixed residential-commercial building on Atwood Avenue is just another example of the economic revival occurring in Rhode Island.

“I think there is a feeling, particularly in Johnston, that we are finally turning a corner,” said Lombardo. “The town has drawn in about 140 new businesses this year. People are excited to get back to work and explore new possibilities in development and entrepreneurship. We are getting back on track.”

Lombardo is the deputy majority whip of the Rhode Island Senate. He is also the secretary of the Senate Committee on Labor, and a member of the Senate committees on commerce and rules.

 
 

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