A N A C T
RELATING TO STATE AFFAIRS AND GOVERNMENT
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. Title 42 of the General Laws entitled "State Affairs and Government" is hereby amended by adding thereto the following chapter:
BUSINESS FAST-START OFFICE
42-132-1. Purpose. -- The purpose of this chapter is to provide a convenient, accessible, and timely one-stop system that will enable the business community to acquire, maintain and file the necessary state licenses required to start and conduct business in Rhode Island. It is the intent of the general assembly that use of the fast-start system by a business be optional and that any business may continue to work directly with the appropriate state agency if preferred.
42-132-2. Definitions. -- As used in this act:
(1) "Director" means the director of the secretary of state's first stop business information center;
(2) "Department" means the secretary of state's office;
(3) "License" means any certificate, permit or other evidence, by whatever name called, of a right or privilege to engage in any business activity, except occupational licenses;
(4) "Occupational license" means any certificate, permit or other evidence, by whatever name called, of a right or privilege to engage in a profession, occupation, or field of endeavor that is issued by an occupational licensing agency;
(5) "Occupational licensing agency" means any board, commission, committee, or other agency of this state that is established for the primary purpose of regulating the admission or conduct of persons in a particular profession, occupation, or field of endeavor, and is authorized to issue and revoke licenses. The term does not include a state agency or department that issues permits or licenses as only part of its regular function;
(6) "Office" means the first stop business information center.
42-132-3. Organization and responsibilities. -- (a) There is hereby established, within the secretary of state's first stop business information center, a business fast-start office ("Fast- Start Office") which shall be under the direction of the director or other full-time state employee as appointed by the secretary of state. Additional staff sufficient to perform the duties of the fast- start office shall be provided under the direction of the secretary of state from the personnel currently assigned to the office of the secretary of state. Nothing in this section shall be construed to explictly or implicitly permit the hiring of any additional personnel to perform the duties and responsibilities designated herein. As a clearing house for state business licensing, the fast-start office will:
(1) Work in conjunction with the office to establish a license information service detailing requirements for establishing and engaging in business in this state, including state licensing and regulatory requirements. The fast-start office in later phases of its program will, to the extent feasible, extend its service to include local and federal requirements.
(2) Develop recommendations for the elimination, consolidation, simplification and/or expediting of business licenses, or otherwise improving licensing procedures affecting business undertakings. Said recommendations, with the approval of the secretary of state, will be submitted to the general assembly for approval;
(3) Promulgate and adopt rules and regulations necessary to carry out the purposes of this chapter;
(4) Develop an operating plan for an automated master application system;
(5) Determine the software and hardware needs of the system;
(6) Determine staffing levels and space required for the system.
(b) State agencies that issue business licenses shall assist and cooperate in the development and implementation of the plan as required by the fast-start office. In making the determination and developing an operating plan for an automated master application system, the fast-start office shall identify the business licenses appropriate for inclusion in a master application system and shall develop a master application form that consolidates the information needed for the various state agencies to issue the licenses.
(c) Each state agency that issues licenses shall cooperate fully with the fast-start office in providing information on the licenses and regulatory requirements of the agency and in developing a plan for an automated master application system.
(d) Each state agency shall designate a business license coordinator. The coordinator shall have the following responsibilities:
(1) Provide to the fast-start office the most recent application and supplemental forms required for each license issued by the agency, the most recent information available on existing and proposed changes in license requirements or agency rules and how those changes will affect the business community, and agency publications that would be of aid or interest to the business community;
(2) Receive and respond to communications from the fast-start office; and
(3) Review state agency regulatory and license requirements and provide a written report to the fast-start office no later than January 1, 2002, and every two (2) years thereafter that:
(i) identifies the regulatory and licensing requirements that affect the business community;
(ii) indicates which, if any, requirements should be eliminated, modified, or consolidated with other requirements; and
(iii) explains the need for continuing those requirements not recommended for elimination.
42-132-4. Services optional. - - (a) The services offered to persons by the fast-start office are optional. Any person may deal directly with a state agency in obtaining information, assistance, or in applying for a license if the person so prefers.
(b) The authority for determining whether a requested license shall be issued shall remain with the state agency legally authorized to issue the license.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect upon passage.