Rhode Island’s ranking on the Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) held at 47th for March 2018, but one of the three subfactors of the index worsened. On the Freedom Factor, which measures employment and jobs against welfare enrollment, Rhode Island fell one spot to 42nd in the country.

Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), March 2018: A Slip in the Freedom Factor

Rhode Island’s ranking on the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) held at 47th for March 2018, but one of the three subfactors of the index worsened. On the Freedom Factor, which measures employment and jobs against welfare enrollment, Rhode Island fell one spot to 42nd in the country. Six of the 12 datapoints of the index changed for this iteration.

Employment was up from the first-reported number for February, by 737, while labor force was up 677. RI-based jobs, however, decreased by 600. Medicaid enrollment improved a little from the previously reported number, with a decrease of 103, but SNAP (food stamps) more than made up for the difference, jumping about 2%, or 3,300 enrollees, perhaps for reasons having to do with the state’s problematic Unified Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP).

Meanwhile, federal taxation in Rhode Island was up some $310 million, or 2%.

The first chart shows Rhode Island still in the last position in New England, 47th in the country. Regional leader New Hampshire is still in 2nd place, nationally, behind Wyoming. Maine improved one spot, to 18th, while Vermont slipped one, to 21st. Massachusetts also fell one, to 34th, while Connecticut jumped six places forward, to 37th, leaving RI alone as a New England state in the bottom 10, nationally. (CT’s story may not be a good one; almost every datapoint was negative, except gross federal income taxes, which dropped 8.5%.)

The second chart shows the gap between RI and New England and the United States on JOI. In both cases, the Ocean State lost a little ground. On the official unemployment rate, RI saw the opposite trend, closing the gaps modestly.

Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI held on to 18th.
  • Freedom Factor (the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI dropped to 42nd.
  • Prosperity Factor (the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI remained 47th.
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RhodeMapRI is back! Once again the social equity extremists are trying to prohibit the free-choice and rights of property owners to make business decisions that are in their own best interests. This time with bills H7528 & S2301 the so-called Fair Housing Practices act.

Progressive BAD BILLS of the Week: H7528 / S2301 So-called Fair Housing Practices

RhodeMapRI is Back!

Once again the social equity extremists are back, those who believe that their views of society should prohibit the free-choice and rights of property owners to make business decisions that are in their own best interests. Once again, RhodeMap Rhode Island and HUD (the federal department of Housing and Urban Development), and its local surrogate, the RI Housing authority, are at it again.

Co-sponsored by multiple progressives House bill #7258 and Senate bill #2301, these so-called Fair Housing Practices which mirrors leftist-inspired legislation introduced in other states, have already been heard in the House and Senate Judiciary Committees this year. The legislation claims it seeks to end discriminatory housing practices by certain landlords. In the progressives’ social-equity land of make believe, any Section-8 lessee applicant (those whose rents are subsidized by the federal government) who are not accepted as a tenant, must have been discriminated against.

According to their progressive fantasyland logic, since people receiving Section-8 vouchers are typically low-income; and because many low-income individuals and families are minorities, then saying ‘no’ to a Section-8 applicant must be because of racism, and therefore must be discriminatory. The actual effect of this legislation, which seeks to extend government control into even more aspects of our personal and business lives, would be to subject landlords to lawsuits or other penalties by automatically assuming that discrimination was the motivating factor.

According to federal guidelines, acceptance of Section-8 vouchers are supposed be voluntary. Yet these Fair Housing Practices would impose a defacto state mandate on landlords to accept any Section-8 application they receive. Even if the landlord makes a legitimate and nondiscriminatory business decision otherwise, they would be at legal risk of being prosecuted for discriminatory actions … or, for being a racist.

We can all agree that any such genuine discrimination is wrong, but there already exists multiple state and federal laws that protect against discrimination. Additionally, there are multiple other reasons for making alternative business decisions.

This legislation is a back-door RhodeMap RI type scheme to advance a social equity agenda that will only tear at the fabric of our society … by making innocent private property owners appear to be bigots.

Based on conversations with landlords and with home and facility based child-care business owners I know, there is a major, legitimate, and non-racial reason why some business prefer not to accept clients subsidized by public money and all the red-tape they would have to go through. In this case, once a landlord accepts a federally subsidized Section-8 tenant, that business is now subject to a whole new array of mandates, red tape, and risks that otherwise, it would not have to worry about.

Under this legislative mandate, landlords would be subject to unfair rules by HUD, which we know from the RhodeMap RI debate years ago, does not care about private property rights. HUD has corrupted its mission of putting low-income people into appropriate housing to the point where it routinely tramples on the rights of other private property owners.

Landlords would be forced to endure annual state inspections, they otherwise would not be subject to, and could even be at potential criminal risk if they did not appropriately “police” their own tenants and report to the state any potential violations Section-8 eligibility guidelines.

This legislation, avidly supported by Rhode Island Housing is a clear extension of the HUD and RhodeMap RI anti property-owner agenda.

Consider that this legislation automatically presumes that our neighborhood brothers and sisters are guilty of discrimination. Our Center recently hosted a luncheon where the nationally acclaimed Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, spoke of the “solidarity of brotherhood”, where we should work together to help “start up” the lives of those in our community. But how can it possibly be “solidarity” to automatically and divisively claim that legitimate business decisions by business owners in our community are based on bigotry?

Private business owners should be free to make the business decisions that they feel are best for them. Just because some on the progressive-left see inequities in every aspect of our society, does not mean that government should be stepping-in to tell people how to run their businesses.

Already suffering from one of the most hostile business and legal climates in the country, and with a known affordable housing shortage, Rhode Island would become an even more dangerous place to operate as a landlord. Small ‘rental property’ business owners could be forced to spend money unnecessarily to become lawyered-up like a major corporation if they were to be sued … an expense and time most cannot possibly afford. In other states where similar legislation has already been enacted, property owners are indeed being sued, and they are routinely losing in court battles, even though they may have committed no wrong.

Our state would suffer greatly if this unintended consequences of this legislation might drive some landlords out of business, or out of state, and lead to fewer available housing units.

Once again, we ask lawmakers to consider the real-world impacts of such presumptive and intrusive legislation, and to understand that the left’s land of make believe scenario.

Building off the successful “Justice Reinvestment” reforms that were enacted in by Rhode Island lawmakers in 2017, the state’s asset forfeiture laws should next come under scrutiny, as they can often lead to the unfettered government seizure of cars, cash, and other private property.

Asset Forfeiture Reform in Rhode Island: Summary of 2018 Legislation – H7640 and S2681

Building off the successful “Justice Reinvestment” reforms that were enacted in by Rhode Island lawmakers in 2017, the state’s asset forfeiture laws should next come under scrutiny, as they can often lead to the unfettered government seizure of cars, cash, and other private property. While many policymakers might assume that such laws are directed at criminals, in reality, simply being accused of a crime or violating a regulation may be sufficient for the state to take your property.

Rhode Island was recently graded at a D- in a national report by the Institute for Justice for its weak civil forfeiture laws, which, nationally, have led to some of the most egregious infringements of private property rights in the U.S. today. In the past 12 years, over $17 million of private property has been seized in our state.

While the original good intent of forfeiture laws cannot be disputed — removing the illegal gains, resources, and instruments of those committing crimes from their reach — decades of experience has made obvious the need for statutory reforms, long overdue if Rhode Island is to keep pace with criminal justice reforms being made in other states across America.

Current Law: Rhode Island law sets a very low bar on the front-end by allowing the government to seize property on the mere basis of criminal suspicion and for non-criminal regulatory violations. If you don’t hire a lawyer and file a lawsuit to reclaim your own property, you soon lose it. On the back-end, Rhode Island also sets a very high bar for innocent property owners to reclaim what is rightfully theirs. Further, state law allows the government agency that seized your property to keep the majority of it as a means to supplement their own budgets, creating a perverse incentive to violate due process and property rights.

In its January 2018 report, Right To Earn a Living, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity advocated that civil asset forfeiture reforms would improve the State’s poorly ranked business climate, by raising the bar for asset forfeiture from businesses and individuals as well as to adopt better forfeiture administration. The Hopkins Center has researched best practices in the other states that have adopted reforms, and drafted language new criminal forfeiture law that every Rhode Island legislator could support.

Also supported by business groups, the RI ACLU, the RI Families Coalition, and civil society leaders, the bi-partisan legislation (H7640 & S2681) represents a total rewrite of existing statutes and which includes the following key features:

  1. Raised the bar for seizures: Avoids government taking for civil violations and from non-defendant property owners and co-owners, while also building-in legal protections before the state seizes property.
  2. Lowered the bar for due process: Provides less-burdensome, prompt, and streamlined legal procedures for innocent property owners to reclaim seized assets.
  3. Increased transparency: Greater transparency around forfeiture actions so that public officials and citizens have the data to provide appropriate oversight. The 4-pages of new reporting provisions include keeping track of and reporting how much the government seizes, whether property owners are ever convicted of a crime, and how much money comes in from those seizures, as opposed to the 4-lines of reporting in current law.
  4. Enhanced administration: Improves administration of forfeiture programs in order to increase the credibility of law enforcement as they conduct permitted seizures; including prohibition of sale of assets for any person’s gain and a streamlined process for returning property.
  5. Budget accountability: Unelected bureaucrats in state and local agencies should not be empowered to manage profits from asset forfeitures or be free from public accountability. Legitimately seized moneys go to the state’s general fund where duly elected officials decide if and how to redistribute them.

The RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity is the Ocean State’s leading voice against the wreckage caused by our state’s progressive agenda.

As the state’s leading research organization, advancing family and business friendly values… the mission of our Center is to make Rhode Island a better place to call home – to raise a family and to build a career.

While progressives value government-centric, taxpayer-funded dependency… our Center believes in the value of hard work and the free-enterprise system.

We understand that in order for more Rhode Island families to have a better quality of life, that more and better businesses are needed to create more and better jobs.

Your donation will help us fight the union-progressive movement and, instead, advocate for pro-family, pro-business policies and values.

Please make a generous, tax-deductible gift to support our Center today!

Hateful progressive intolerance

STATEMENT on Church Protest: Progressive Hateful Intolerance of Speech is Divisive to Society

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 20, 2018

Protest at Church Latest in String of Intolerance; Fuels Hate and Divides Communities

“Solidarity of Brotherhood” Approach Recommended

Providence, RI — Having recently hosted a luncheon where the unifying theme presented in the keynote address was that of the “solidarity of brotherhood,” the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity decries the intolerance recently exhibited by the progressive-left against those they disagree with.

Hateful progressive intolerance

The hate-filled protest by progressive activists Thursday evening at a Providence church is the latest in a string of at least five known incidents where mainstream conservative views have been attacked by extremists from the left, who represent a minority view.

On April 10, Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, provided an inspirational speech at the Center’s leadership luncheon. With “life entrepreneurship” as his central theme, Brooks encouraged the bipartisan group of lawmakers and civic leaders in the audience to advance a “start up your life” attitude; that by supporting the unique abilities – and weaknesses – of each person, society can benefit from such solidarity.

“Conversely, the hate from the progressive-left, and which is cheered-on by the media, is corrosive to society. Thankfully the Providence police were on site last night to quell hostilities,” said Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “In keeping with Arthur Brooks’ message, and in what our Center is attempting to accomplish with its RI Families Coalition, civil society leaders must call for an end to these reflexive and combative over-reactions, and instead advocate for a more reflective and collaborative approach. Open and respectful debate is the cornerstone of our great American democracy.”

In just the past few months, in addition to the church protest, two meetings of the state’s leading millennial organization, the RI chapter of America’s Future Foundation, a student Resident Assistant at Providence College, and committee testimony by Stenhouse, have been disrupted or threatened by progressive extremists.

The RI Family Prosperity Initiative, the latest initiative of the Center, demonstrates strong familial and societal cultural unity are inextricably intertwined with economic prosperity.

Arthur Brooks Inspires Audience at Center’s Leadership Luncheon

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: April 11, 2018

One of America’s Leading Conservative Thinkers, Arthur Brooks, Inspires Over 60 Local Leaders

Speaks of “Life Entrepreneurs” with a “Start Up Lives” Culture

Providence, RI — In front of over 60 political, business, civil society, and veteran leaders, Arthur Brooks, the President of the American Enterprise Institute, provided an inspirational speech at a leadership luncheon hosted by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity.

With “life entrepreneurship” as his central theme, Brooks encouraged the lawmakers and civic leaders in the audience to advance a “start up your life” attitude among the people of Rhode Island. That by taking the risk of investing love, time, and commitment to the important people and self-improvement opportunities in one’s life, that this “start up your life” attitude will bring happiness, prosperity, and overall returns on that investment many times over.

“The feedback from the bipartisan attendees, whether liberal or conservative, was overwhelmingly positive,” said Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “As only Arthur Brooks can do, he challenged us intellectually to consider the kind of moral, family, and work culture we want to have in our state.”

Brooks’ powerful message supports the RI Family Prosperity Initiative that the Center has recently focused on … that strong familial and societal cultural factors are inextricably intertwined with economic prosperity.

Photos from the event, and a brief biography of Brooks can be viewed here.

Progressive lawmakers are once again seeking to hand out “free stuff”, this time to wealthy-out of staters, in a misguided attempt to bribe them to move to Rhode Island. The legislation, House bill H8018 is an extension of the state’s failed corporate welfare strategy.

Progressive Land of Make Believe Bad Bill of the Week: $10K Pays The Way (H8018)

Progressive lawmakers are once again seeking to hand out “free stuff”, this time to wealthy-out of staters, in a misguided attempt to bribe them to move to Rhode Island. The legislation, House bill H8018, has been named the “Progressive Land of Make Believe Bad Bill of the Week” by the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity, and is an individual-level extension of the state’s failed corporate welfare strategy.

“If we have to pay families, students, and businesses to move to or remain in Rhode Island, to survive our state’s oppressive tax and regulatory climate, then something is very wrong,” said Mike Stenhouse, the Center’s CEO. “Worse than the obvious face-value inanity of the bill, the ignorant belief of how an economy and family dynamics actually work is what is most troubling. The legislation openly acknowledges the negative economy in our state, yet, as with other progressive policies, it tries to band-aid the symptom rather than cure the core illness. ”

Dubbed by the Center as the #10kPaysTheWay Act, the legislation, sponsored by Representative Carlos Tobon, a progressive-Democrat from Pawtucket, pretends that taxpayer funded government hand-outs would be incentive-enough for upper-middle income people to relocate their lives to the Ocean State. It is the false premise of the progressive ideology that more government dependency is what people want; in this case, in desperate hope of increasing our state’s population so as to avoid losing one of its two U.S House of Representative seats after the 2020 national census is tabulated.

While it is unclear how much of a population increase Rhode Island might need to preclude losing a Congressional seat, the legislation seeks to pay up to 30,000 new families. The cost to state taxpayers for this program, estimated at $300 Million, at the proposed handout rate of $10,000 per family … but only to wealthier families that make over $100,000 per year.

There are so many make-believe assumptions underlying this bill that do not exist in the real world, that it is difficult to know where to begin to enumerate them:

  • Families have left Rhode Island not because of deficient government programs, but because of sub-standard job and educational opportunities. Until we can break away from the self-imposed budgetary constraints and special interest influences that impede reforms in our state, Rhode Island’s bottom-10 business climate and family prosperity rankings, will continue to make Rhode Island a relatively inhospitable place to build a career and raise a family.
  • This regressive ‘wealthy-welfare’ scheme is unfair.  Not only would all current Rhode Island residents, including low-income families, be taxed more so that wealthy out-of-state families can be given our money, but those in-state families that have worked hard to become successful will receive nothing. This is similar to how existing Ocean State businesses have to pay for corporate tax credit handouts to other companies, often their own competitors.
  • People not want to be dependent on government. Current and would-be Rhode Islanders want to live productive, soul-fulfilling, self-sufficient, and prosperous lives … even though progressives like to pretend this that more government programs define success.
  • A government hand-out is not enough to overcome the “long-term and short-term negative economic trends” that the legislation itself admits are currently plaguing our state. Already damaged by too many current job-killing progressive policies, more progressive policies cannot possibly make our state more attractive to families and entrepreneurs.
  • Rhode Island’s population would not likely increase. As with most tax schemes, progressives pretend that there will be no adverse economic impact or other unintended consequence to their simple-minded and purely emotional-based policies. In the real world, tax policy drives behavior. In this case, the increased taxes that will be heaped on every family and business will cause even more people to flee our state.
  • Most importantly, progressives pretend that the obvious solution to Rhode Island’s economic and population stagnation is not staring them directly in the face. Proving that the theoretical benefits of the tax and regulatory reductions that our Center have espoused since its inception in 2011, and which is the foundation of conservative economic policy, the recently implemented federal tax and regulatory reductions have led to unprecedented economic optimism and renewed economic growth across America.

Similarly, if Rhode Island were to abandon its government-centric corporate-welfare and wealthy-welfare agenda, and instead start working on creating a reality-based and improved economic climate, where businesses and families can thrive on their own and without costly government assistance, the Ocean State might soon be able to regain the Congressional seat that progressive policies have likely already doomed us to lose.

In February 2018, Rhode Island’s ranking on the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) moved not at all, remaining 47th. Although six of the seven datapoints that changed for this iteration were positive, they were apparently driven by national trends that affected other states, as well.

Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), February 2018 Slow and Steady Stays in Place

As 2018 got its footing in February, Rhode Island’s ranking on the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI) moved not at all, remaining 47th. Although six of the seven datapoints that changed for this iteration were positive, they were apparently driven by national trends that affected other states, as well. Rhode Island’s relative position therefore stayed the same.

Employment was up from the first-reported number for January, by 528, while labor force was up 738. RI-based jobs increased by 1,200. SNAP (food stamps) also improved, with a reduction of 4,288 enrollees, although complications with the state’s Unified Health Infrastructure Project (UHIP) may be affecting this datapoint for technical reasons unrelated to the economy.

Total personal income in Rhode Island (including various forms of investment) increased 1.95%, or $852 million. However, total state and local taxation increased 2.11%, or $69 million.

The first chart shows Rhode Island still in the last position in New England, 47th in the country. Regional leader New Hampshire is still in 2nd place, nationally, behind Wyoming, and Maine held its 18th position. Vermont regained the spot it lost last month, returning to 20th. Massachusetts held on to its position of 33rd, while Connecticut’s descent paused at 43rd.

The second chart shows the gap between RI and New England and the United States on JOI. In both cases, the Ocean State closed the gap a little. On the official unemployment rate, RI again lost ground against both regions.

Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI held on to 18th.
  • Freedom Factor (the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI remained 41st.
  • Prosperity Factor (the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI remained 47th.

Ocular Telemedicine Ban: Progressive Bad Bill of the Week

In blocking technological innovation, by seeking a virtual ban on the emerging and promising “ocular tele-medicine” industry, Senate bill S2404 and its House companion, H7608, have been dubbed the Progressive Land of Make Believe Bad Bills of the Week.

One reason why Rhode Island has such a dismal business climate and reputation is precisely bills like these that stifle innovation and increase costs on patients, all because existing national and local optometry associations and practitioners are asking for protectionist policies that block competition.

Perhaps even worse, Senate committee chairman, Joshua Miller, who oversaw the hearing on the legislation, said he would “dismiss” the testimony of the Center’s CEO, Mike Stenhouse. It is a common tactic of progressives like the Honorable Senator Miller to seek to shut down open and honest debate, because they believe their views, and only their views, deserve discussion.

See Stenhouse’s video commentary here.

See the video of Stenhouse’s actual committee testimony  – and multiple interruptions – here.

Read the GoLocalProv article, where even Common Cause RI criticizes the Senator for his intolerance.

Red below for Stenhouse’s 2017 OpEd on the issue …

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2017 OpEd: Rhode Island Should Encourage Eye Care Innovation, Not Protectionism

Every Rhode Island family should have multiple choices to select the affordable, high-quality health care that’s best for them. And as new federal healthcare laws are debated in Washington, D.C., Rhode Island needs to have its own debate about insurance mandates and other protectionist policies.

In the case of eye care, Rhode Islanders often pay above market rates for glasses and contact lenses. However, new technology has the power to change this inefficiency by lowering prices and increasing convenience for consumers – that is, unless new protectionist legislation is passed into law.

Optometrists are unique in that they are some of the only medical professionals that sell what they prescribe. Oftentimes, they conveniently forget to provide copies of vision prescriptions to patients, or they advise them to purchases lenses directly from eye care offices at inflated prices. The prescriptions that optometrists write are often brand specific – usually for Johnson & Johnson’s Acuvue lenses. The reason is simple: Johnson & Johnson produces over 40 percent of the world’s contacts, and as a way of furthering a monopoly, they give eye care professionals kickbacks on every sale made within their offices.

Federal legislation has attempted to bandage the problem by making it illegal for eye doctors to hold back prescriptions, but, as we all know, there is only so much that government enforcement can do to stop cronyism.

Fortunately, the free market has recently developed a new solution whereby optometrists’ office visits can often be bypassed. New technology accurately allows consumers to measure their prescription strength from the comfort of their own homes, a process known as “ocular telemedicine,” via their smartphones or computers, whereby they can take an eye-test approved by a board-certified ophthalmologist.

Patients can then use that e-prescription to purchase lenses or glasses wherever they choose, typically at much lower prices. With this technology, healthy adults only need to visit a brick-and-mortar eye doctor once every two years for a full eye health exam (as recommended by the American Optometric Association) instead of every time a lens refill is needed, or for specific eye problems.

Although this innovation is saving consumers time and money, it is causing quite an uproar in the optometry industry. Like the hair-styling and cosmetology protectionists who are trying to block natural hair-braiders like Jocelyn DeCouto from practicing their harmless trade, the vision industry is hoping to see through a usage ban on this new technology.

Washington lobbying groups like the American Optometric Association (AOA) are pressuring state legislatures to introduce bills that will ban most uses for ocular telemedicine. On the national level alone, this group is spending nearly $2 million a year in lobbying.

In banning a technology that can provide affordable, high quality eye care for Rhode Islanders – particularly for poor and rural residents – these two bills are an assault on the free market, innovation, and common sense.

Thankfully, this type of legislation has fared poorly in other states. In the past year, similar protectionist bills that kill competition and cost eye care customers more time and money have been shot down across America; New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez issued a veto as did then-Governor of South Carolina Nikki Haley, who stated the bill, “uses health practice mandates to stifle competition for the benefit of a single industry … putting us on the leading edge of protectionism, not innovation.”

Rhode Island lawmakers need to see through the optometry cartel’s attempts to kill innovation and competition. At-home vision testing technology can empower Rhode Island families and individuals to get the prescription vision-aids they need at lower cost and with more ease than ever before.

 

In response to a call from the Rhode Island Speaker of the House, and following the lead of the executive branch, the Rhode Island Center for Freedom & Prosperity, in a new report, calls on lawmakers to enact regulatory reform to the state's overburdensome mandates.

Center to Testify for HAIR BRAIDER FREEDOM Against International Special-Interest Lobby

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 20, 2018

Hair Braiders Should Have the #RightToEarn a Living

National Hair Salon Chain Lobbies to Protect Profits

Providence, RI — A prominent local lobbyist has been hired by a national hair salon chain to preserve ridiculous protectionist laws that inhibit natural hair braiders from earning a living.

The Toni and Guy Hairdressing Academy, an international corporation with a location in Cranston, RI, has retained prominent area lobbyist, Andrew Annaldo, to maintain the myth that natural hair braiding provides some kind of public safety risk that requires thousands of hours of training and hundreds of dollars of fees to obtain permission from the government to work. Conversely, the RI Center for Freedom & prosperity believes every Rhode Islander should be afforded every opportunity to engage in gainful work.

“There are no chemicals or sharp tools involved in this twisting of hair art form,” commented Mike Stenhouse, CEO for the Center, who will testify at House and Senate hearings this week. Without any evidence of actual consumer harm, this licensing burden is prohibitive to many people who would prefer to start new careers and earn paychecks instead of receiving welfare checks. “It is clear that established hair salons are seeking to preserve crony policies that protect their profits by thwarting potential competition. Does anyone really think that this international chain is truly interested in protecting the safety of Rhode Islanders?”

After many states have acted in recent years to remove similar licensing burdens for natural hair braiding, Rhode Island remains among the vast minority of states that still maintain such onerous laws; most likely because of special-interest lobbying by the hair salon industry.

The Center believes that every Rhode Islander has the #RightToEarn a living in a vocation of their choice, without undue interference from government. In a major report by the Center – The RIght to Earn a Living – issued in January, Rhode Island was cited as ranking as one of the 10 most onerously burdened states when it comes to occupational licensing. Additionally our state already suffers from bottom 10 rankings on the Family Prosperity Index (FPI), overall business climate, and on Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI).

It is precisely because of heavy-handed licensing mandates, such as those imposed on natural hair braiders, that RI has such dismal national rankings. Recognizing this specific problem, Speaker Nicholas Mattiello, in his remarks to open the 2018 General Assembly session, said that reducing regulatory burdens should be a priority this year. This legislation would advance the Speaker’s agenda.

In 2017 Rhode Island ranked low in ‘entrepreneurship’ according to the national Family Prosperity Index. Per the Center, unfair and unreasonable occupational licensing restrictions must be repealed if we want more Rhode Islanders to have a chance to improve their quality of life and engage in entrepreneurial commerce.

House bill H7565 and Senate Bill S2323, which will be heard in the House Corporations and Senate Commerce committees, today (Tuesday) and this Thursday, respectively, would exempt natural hair braiders from the requirement to be licensed as hairdressers or cosmeticians, while also defining the safe practice of natural hair braiding.

The new year did not bring any change in Rhode Island’s ranking of 47th place on the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s January 2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI). The five of 12 datapoints that changed for this iteration split between positive and negative developments.

Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI), January 2018: Year Not Off to an Auspicious Start

The year 2018 did not bring any change in Rhode Island’s ranking of 47th place on the RI Center for Freedom & Prosperity’s Jobs & Opportunity Index (JOI). The five of 12 datapoints that changed for this iteration split between positive and negative developments.

Employment was up from the revised number for December, by 330, while labor force was up 334. RI-based jobs increased, from their pre-revision number, by 400. Medicaid enrollment worsened, however, adding 2,380 enrollees, while SNAP (food stamps) also increased,
by 804.

The first chart shows Rhode Island still in the last position in New England, 47th in the country. Regional leader New Hampshire is still in 2nd place, nationally, behind Wyoming. At 18th, Maine remains ahead of Vermont, which slipped a spot, to 21st. Massachusetts held on to its position of 33rd, while Connecticut fell one spot again, to 43rd.

January 2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index Race To First

The second chart shows the gap between RI and New England and the United States on JOI. In both cases, The Ocean State gained slightly on the U.S. average but slipped slightly against New England. On the official unemployment rate, RI lost ground against both regions.

2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index New England And US

2018 Jobs & Opportunity Index New England And US Unemployment

Results for the three underlying JOI factors were:

  • Job Outlook Factor (optimism that adequate work is available): RI held on to 18th.
  • Freedom Factor (the level of work against reliance on welfare programs): RI remained 41st.
  • Prosperity Factor (the financial motivation of income versus taxes): RI remained 47th.